“I feel inspired!”
When was the last time you said that? Given what’s going on in the world, no judgment if you haven’t said that in awhile.
Having said that, your first response to my question might range from “often” to “are you kidding?” When you’re living with the ups and downs of life as we know it, inspired may feel like a word that belongs in someone else’s vocabulary. And if you’re maybe a little more aware of your HIV status during this global pandemic, you might be feeling like you have even more reasons to ask what there is to be inspired about.
But before you decide that inspiration is for anybody but you, let’s take a look at the definition of inspiration. Dictionary.com defines “inspire” as follows: “to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence.” And, in turn, an inspiration is “a thing or a person that inspires.”
Inspiration Is Within Your Grasp. And Worth the Effort!
My personal definition of inspire is to give someone a push forward in a positive direction. I do it with my clients, my friends, and myself. And an inspiration is whatever gives you that push. And inspiration is accompanied by positive emotions, including happy or excited, on one hand, or calm and confident on the other.
Here are some examples of inspiration. An account of someone who has overcome a challenge against what seemed like impossible odds. Music that makes you want to leap out of your chair and sing. Words from a leader that cause you to look at life in a different way. An athlete who sets a new record. A scientist who has pushed the limits of what was considered possible.
And here’s how being inspired can benefit you:
Inspiration can lead to action. You may feel inspired to be more, to do more, to have an impact on the world around you. Starting with your own corner of the world.
Inspiration can lead to a sense of greater meaning. Inspiration is a moment when you feel like you are at one with the world, that you’re in sync with the ebb and flow of humanity.
Inspiration can lead to acceptance. Inspiration is one of the moments when you nod your head and say to yourself: “Yup, that’s another reason why, even on a tough day, I know life is good.” Being inspired might just be about helping you to be okay with life as it is, even during a global pandemic, and committed to living your life to the absolute fullest.
Just think about how living with inspiration can mean for living with HIV!
So how to you get your hands around inspiration and bring more of it into your life? Is it something you can add to your to-do list with a deadline attached? And if not, will inspiration be one of those nice-to-haves that you think about during the time it takes to read this article and then assume is probably out of reach?
Inspiration is within reach. In fact, chances are you’re already inspired. You just haven’t been taking the time to think about what inspires you.
Here are some ideas for identifying your own inspiration along with bringing more inspiration into your life:
Get quiet. Find some time to spend some time alone on a regular basis. Away from the noise and the demands and the distractions. Sit with yourself. Allow your mind to wander. Let your emotions come and go. Think about what it means for you to be inspired, and what has inspired you in the past. Get reacquainted with yourself.
Crank up the sound. Music can be inspiring. It speaks to a part of your brain that is beyond words and logic. Music can help you to connect with positive images and emotions that you’ve been pushing aside to focus on the day-to-day stuff of life. Put on some of your favorite music and see where it takes you.
Go into nature. Spending some time in nature is one of the old stand-bys for getting inspired. Take a walk in a park or a drive through the country. All nature requires is that you watch and enjoy. There’s nothing to do. Relax!
Push yourself out of your familiar zone. How about trying something new? A new hobby. Switching your morning routine around. Challenging yourself to be even more excellent at something you are already pretty good at. It’s not so much what you choose as it is the act of choosing. Positive action inspires more positive action!
Read/watch. An inspiring book, like a self-help or a book with a spiritual theme. An inspirational movie. Tool around on the web and check out inspirational websites. You might even find an app on your smartphone that inspires you to look at life in a different way.
Find a role model. Make a list of the people who have inspired you in some way. People you know personally or have read about or watched in the media. People who are living their life in a way that inspires you to do more in your own life. If possible, get together and talk with someone who inspires you and see what you can learn. Or, read or watch a biography of someone inspiring. There’s probably a seed of wisdom, or a few seeds, that you can apply to your own life.
Clean your house. Get rid of the clutter in your house and in your mind. The stuff that you have accumulated over the years, that no longer serves a purpose. Or that holds you back. Create space for new ways of thinking and feeling.
Be an inspiration! Share your story with someone else who could use some inspiration. You might be surprised at how your own experiences with overcoming life’s challenges and staying positive might be just what someone else needs to hear. Think of it this way: It might take someone else to help you identify the ways in which you are already living an inspired life. And if that happens, do more of whatever it is you’re doing.
Don’t work too hard. Getting inspired isn’t a chore that you add to the list and then beat yourself up trying to accomplish. This is one of those times to take your eye off the ball. Spend time with yourself. Spend time doing things that open you up to new ways of thinking and living. This is a journey. An inspired one.
Open up! Your heart and your mind. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Let the inspiration find its way to you.
How about this for inspiration: Embrace your life. Make the most of each day. And give yourself a push to take the best possible care of yourself!
Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist, patient advocate, and author in New York City, who specializes in working with individuals diagnosed with chronic and catastrophic medical conditions, their caregivers, and professionals. He maintains a website, JustGotDiagnosed.com.