Monday, February 16, 2015

Why You Should Be Inspired Every Day

“Sustainable change is driven by inspiration, not shame.
—Jena La Flamme

Have you ever wanted to make a change in your life, or accomplish a significant goal? In what ways did you motivate yourself to do what you needed to do? Did you seek out inspiration and encouragement—or did you use shame and anxiety to prod yourself into action?

In the last two days, I’ve come across two different references to the importance of inspiration versus shame and/or anxiety in making change and accomplishing goals. The first instance is quoted above. How many times do we use shaming tactics to try to effect change? And how has that been workin’ for us? Not well, in my case. Browbeating myself about what I haven’t accomplished saps my will to do pretty much anything except surf Pinterest and eat M & Ms right out of the bag. It gets me nowhere on the road to my big dreams. 

I found the second reference in this piece, written by Amanda Stuermer, on Jennifer Louden’s blog (emphasis hers): “I believe we choose the direction of our days, and that choice begins with our first waking thoughts. If I wake up worrying how I will ever get my to-do list done, I will feel rushed and pressured the whole day through. My words, actions, and habits will reflect that sense of anxiety. If instead, I wake up grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passions, I will feel inspired and my words, actions, and habits will reflect that. I would so much rather that my character and my destiny be guided by inspiration than anxiety.”  

It seems that inspiration can help us both with lasting change and with how we go about our daily tasks. I want to be guided by inspiration, not anxiety or shame, and I’m guessing you do, too. So how do we make this shift? We can start by getting rid of comparisons and blame (of ourselves and others).  Instead of stewing about lost opportunities or mistakes, we can turn to words of inspiration or stories of people who have done the things we want to do. Instead of being frustrated by others’ perceived success (or our own perceived lack thereof), we can choose to be inspired by them, rather than depressed. I know from personal experience that this is not always easy. I can’t control who gets the breaks, but I can at least try to control my emotions if it’s not me.

We can also use the rhythms of the day to infuse inspiration into our lives. Rather than check email or social media (or, even worse, the news), begin the day with something that lifts us up, such as music, inspirational reading, meditation, a walk, or a few yoga poses. When we take a break during the day (and you are taking breaks, right?), use that time for further inspiration—flip through a magazine with beautiful images, get out in nature if possible. Even five minutes away from “to do” will help. At bedtime, we can turn off all our screens and end the day with the practice of writing down good things that have happened or what we are grateful for. Keeping our minds constantly tuned to what inspires us will help us through times of stress, struggle and change.

Inspiration looks different for everyone. Some of my sources of inspiration include the “Acoustic New Age” radio station on Pandora; my Pinterest boards Truth, Beautiful, and Isn’t That Cool?; blogs like Zen Habits , and inspirational speakers like Brendon Burchard.

What inspires you? Compile your own list of people, places, quotes, etc., you can use to inspire yourself every day—and please share in the comments section!

Inspired by paralympian Lauren Barwick

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2 comments:

Claire M said...

Wow... I'm glad I took a few minutes to read this post today. What a great observation - pointing out the two very different perspectives - inspiration vs. shame. I burdened at home with all the stuff we've gathered over 36+ years and 3 active sons. It is so easy to get bogged down and think 'how could we let ourselves accumulate all this stuff' and wallow in guilt and shame.... I think approaching it from the perspective of inspiration for a new beginning will be more productive. Thanks for calling my attention to this.

P.S. I guess stopping by here this morning was my heart calling out for some inspiration. ;-)

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Claire--I'm so glad you found this post of interest. I like the idea of using positive inspiration ot motivate changes so much more than trying to guilt or shame myself into doing things differently. Hope you found the inspiration your heart was looking for! :)