(Note: There’s a huge easter egg for you at the end of this post, so don’t miss it!)
Have there been times in your life when you felt inspiration came easily – like you were “plugged in” to the universe and on top of your game? When things just connected for you mentally?
Maybe you felt like it came on suddenly – that whatever you had tapped into, whatever the source of your inspiration – it was random and fickle, and it might leave you just as suddenly as it came.
But inspiration doesn’t have to be like the pesky gopher you wait hours for, net-in-hand, until it finally peeks its elusive little head out of its hole – only to disappear again the moment it spots you.
There are ways you can engineer inspiration so that you can harness its creative power when you need it.
Inspiration: The definition
First, let’s define inspiration so we’re on the same page.
1. something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone
2. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative.
So it’s clear from this definition that inspiration is the force that animates your creativity.
It’s the lightbulb that goes on, the switch that’s flipped, the lightning that strikes. When the connection happens, your eyes light up and you suddenly have. an. idea. Maybe its a creative idea for something new or for how to crack a problem.
Or maybe it’s the connection that happens when you feel the positive feelings of joy and hope, as in, “I just watched Oprah and it was really inspiring.”
No matter the form you’re using the word in, there are some ways that you can make inspiration happen, rather than just wait for it.
Making inspiration happen
There are a few essential ingredients for facilitating inspiration. Without them, inspiration disappears down the gopher hole just as quickly as it popped out. But set the mood, and viola! Here they are:
Inspiration: The Essential Ingredients
1. Inspiration thrives when you’re relaxed, calm, and happy a.k.a “in the shower magic.”
Ever wonder why you have all your brilliant ideas in the shower? You’re not alone. In fact, so many people have brilliant shower ideas that there’s a whole company built around capturing those thoughts (safely, people – don’t slip while you’re running for your pen) with handy, waterproof notes.
The shower is a calm, relaxed space where you let your mind work on nothing in particular and that is the perfect recipe for inspiration to strike.
2. A Judgement Free Zone
If you judge your ideas, you’ll dismiss them almost before you think of them. And if you’re constantly shooting your ideas down, how can you possibly hope to come up with one that’s great?
After all, think of how ludicrous some of the greatest ideas must have sounded before they actually happened.
- Adjustable strength eyeglasses
- Gene therapy and stem cell generation
- 3-D Printing
Just allow your ideas to flow without judgement.
3. Take your mind off it and let your subconscious do the work
Trying to force inspiration can have the exact opposite effect. If your conscious mind works too hard at it, you’ll shut down the part of you that connects with intuition in the first place. So instead of continuing to power through the problem, let go and let your subconscious mind float inspiration to the surface.
4. Do something mindless
Some of your most dazzling ideas come to you in the shower partially because you’re doing something mindless. There are many tasks that can get your body in motion without engaging your mind too deeply, and these activities can really be fertile ground for lightening to strike. Think: washing dishes, running, driving. You get the idea.
People who meditate will also tell you that it is a great way to prime yourself for inspiration.
5. No room for fear
When you’re engineering inspiration, you simply can’t be afraid. The two things can’t coexist at the same time. So do your best to let go of whatever outcome you have in mind related to why you’re trying to get inspired, and just focus on getting the other elements right.
So, for example, if you’re really worried that you’ll never get promoted if you can’t find a great angle for this new project, then you’re sure to seize up. Do your best to let go of your fears if you want your creativity to flow.
6. Go to your happy place
If there are things that you know connect you with inspiration, they should be on your go to list. Maybe for you there are certain books you like to read, or music you like to listen to. What works for you to get you in the inspiration zone?