We begin with a video (bear with me, this is a new concept we’re trying out…full length podcast-esque episodes coming soon…).
“Hey Leigh. How do you deal with times where you feel uninspired? How do you stop your mood from controlling your decisions?”
Ah, the eternal question rises. I love when people ask me questions that pertain to my life. It forces me to rumble with it myself before I can offer advice or insight.
But first, a definition!
Inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
When was the last time you felt inspired? You know that feeling— the bursting, intense ‘WOW’ feeling that ignites your soul. It feels so good.
Eh. I’m gonna put it out there: I think inspiration is a trap. I think we’ve misconstrued what inspiration is, and what the intention of the action is meant to accomplish.
Inspiration is flighty; it arrives quickly, with no warning. It’s hot and powerful and full of action and juicy; it’s fast and in your face and there’s no denying that an inspirational moment makes you feel like you can change the world with your bare hands….ah. It also makes you run out of breath, really fast.
First off, what do we think it means?
We believe that inspiration is meant to provide a consistent surge of energy, a spark that carries us through like a speeding train from one point to another. We know that that’s not how it works, and yet, we’re surprised when after a day, a week, or a month, the things that totally inspired us disappear into an mundane mush.
Inspiration is akin to lighting a fire under your feet. It’s quick, it’s alive, sometimes it’s painful but it makes you move!…until it doesn’t. Before you know it, the fire is out, and the only thing to show for it is 3rd degree burns.
Do I feel particularly inspired today? No. Shouldn’t things that I fill my days with—writing, school work, work-work, learning how to run a home—feel inspiring, engaging, and alive? Otherwise, why do them? Why not be a couch potato until the inspiration surges through me again?
Ah. There’s the trap.
I have written about the three stage process of permeating inspiration here, but to recap: Inspiration is a balloon on a thin piece of string. It’s up to you to transform it into something more permanent and internal. You have to draw it down, make it a part of you, and be willing to continue the work once the twinkly feelings have worn off.
In Hayom Yom, the Alter Rebbe says: “A lamp comprises a vessel, wick, oil and flame. But one must kindle the flame – and then it sheds light. ”
A lamp sheds long lasting light if there is a wick to contain it. A spark without a wick is temporary.
So…how do we remain inspired? I’ll tell you… I don’t know.
I am still learning what it means to cultivate and retain meaning within the mundane…because, that’s what life is. The bulk of our day is filled with ordinary, common things that don’t feel particularly engaging or inspiring; even the things we love can weigh us down if we view with ‘inspiration goggles.’
Inspiration is the flame, but you have to provide a wick.
The wick is internal motivation. It’s energy that is cultivated from the inside and radiates out, not something that begins on the outside that tries to break in. Internal motivation is slower, more deliberate, and easier to be around. It’s friendlier; it believes in you long after the intense flame of inspiration has burned out.
My remedy for inspiration? Internal motivation. It’s inspiration that begins at the core. Become inspired by where the journey—with its hard work, mundane moments, and less than exciting feats—will take you.
Next week: My follow up to the next question—What if hard work is too hard?
Do you have a question about spirituality, Judaism, or life in general that you’d like me to take a crack at? Email me!