The new year isn’t the best goal-setting time for everyone. Some of us find the timing arbitrary and avoid January resolutions. Others are in poor mental health as Covid-19 spikes a third time, nearly two years into the pandemic.
Resolution setters or not, we all benefit from inspiration, which sparks intrinsic motivation, helps us progress toward goals, and improves wellbeing.
Need something to light your fire? Read on for ideas.
Inspiration is Contagious & Cumulative
Inspiration is key for creativity, work, and learning, say psychologists. It helps us see new possibilities and perspectives. It can transform mundane thoughts and concerns that fill our minds. Simply put, inspiration is like a fresh breath.
In the past 20 years, researchers found than we can activate, capture, and build upon inspiration; it’s not just something that happens. They also find that inspiration is contagious and cumulative. The more open we are to inspiration and the more often we are inspired, the more apt we are to be inspired again.
In their studies, psychologists Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J. Elliot found that “Inspiration was also positively related to perceived competence, self-esteem, and optimism, variables that represent psychological resources.”
So how do we find inspiration – or help it find us?
Thrash and Elliot admit that while being open to inspiration is key, you can’t make it happen. You can be inspired from the environment, a person or object. You can also be inspired from within, such as a divine revelation. We’re often inspired by qualities of truth, beauty, and goodness and moved to emulate those qualities. We can be both inspired by things and inspired to do something, the research shows.
Since we’re all sparked by different things, you may be more inspired by helping another than reading poetry. (Perhaps reading poetry to another will light you up?!) Play with the ideas below and notice when inspiration hits. Recalling that moment later will further inspire you, says the research!
Ideas to Spark Inspiration
1. Change what you see daily. Add flowers to your work desk, rearrange the house, or leave yourself love notes or inspirational quotes. Paint a room a new color!
2. Get out in nature. A new destination is likely to inspire, but you don’t have to travel to feel nature’s spirit. In your neighborhood, marvel at how snow sparkles in the sun, decaying leaves stain a sidewalk and birds socialize.
3. Meditate. Detaching from the world’s distractions and clearing our minds helps us tap into our unconscious so we may be inspired from within. Mindfulness, or being completely present in the moment, can do the same.
4. Try a different workout or instructor. A new walking route, yoga teacher, or type of workout can alleviate doldrums!
5. Make micro-changes to your daily habits. Start the day with a new alarm ringtone and a glass of water. Take a virtual trip to museums around the world on your lunchbreak. Cite three reasons to be thankful before bed.
6. Attempt a new hobby or art with NO commitment. What’s the saying? Be willing to be terrible at something new. If it’s a craft that requires expensive equipment or supplies, rent or borrow them rather than investing at first.
7. Cook or bake a new recipe. Pick something you love or something totally out of the ordinary for you. Not a cook? Maybe frost a cake form – no calories or guilt, just fun.
8. Listen to something new. A different style of music, podcast or audible book may be more enlivening than you’d imagine. Looking for specific motivation? There are over 3,500 Ted Talks!
9. Reward yourself for nothing. We typically reward ourselves when we reach a big goal. But if you’re struggling with a lack of motivation or depression, getting out of bed deserves a reward! Buy yourself a treat, indulge in selfcare, or declare a staycation day with no responsibilities.
10. Teach someone something you enjoy. In person or online, teaching can be as inspiring as learning.
11. Volunteer. We feel connected, open, energetic, and clear when we’re inspired, according to the research. Since inspiration is contagious, we can be both inspired and inspiring by helping others.Have another idea for sparking inspiration? Please share on our Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.