Wait, wut? Get inspired?
I wrote that change is hard. I stand by it. I’ll say it again. Change is hard, motivation fades and inspiration is catching lightning in a bottle, it’s here and then it’s gone.
I can tell you, and I have told you, that you need to:
- lower the barriers,
- create a schedule,
- develop a routine,
- integrate it into your life
- show up
- push through and
- let it come
I can tell you, and I have told you, that following this script will transform your life. It will bring the expected benefits, whether they be physical (fitness, strength, endurance, weight loss), mental (stress relief, improved sleep), psychological (fewer and smaller mood swings).
For all of these I say the benefits are expected because there is plenty of documentation, completely outside of anything I’ve written, to back it up. Mindbodygreen.com, Livestrong.com, WebMD.com, Health.com, the Mayo Clinic, I’ve directed you to all of these and more to back up my more outrageous claims.
Beyond that, it will transform you in unexpected ways. I never expected that embarking on a lifetime of yoga would fix my marriage, make me a better father and even improve my hockey game, yet it did.
And none of it matters. I can tell you the stories, give you the examples and it won’t matter. I can’t argue you into it, no one can because the change must come from within. From you, not your spouse, not your kids, not your doctor, not from random stranger jabbering on the internet. Let me say it again:
The change must come from YOU.
And this is where inspiration comes in. Inspiration is the spark, the precipitating event, the beginning. Without it…nothing.
So, where does inspiration come from?
I don’t know.
Wait, wut? All that buildup and your answer is “I don’t know?” Thanks, Andrew, thank you so very much.
Wait, hold on a sec, please don’t leave.
Let’s go to etymology online. The root words of inspire are the Latin words “in” and “spirare.” Literally, to breathe in. Breathing is the unconscious act of drawing in air. Further, in the 14th century inspiration incorporated the concept of being under the “immediate influence of God or a god.”
So the answer to where does inspiration comes from literally is, “I don’t know.” We draw it in unconsciously from the great unknown. Once we’ve felt it, we can reason our way back to the origin, but we don’t know where or when it’s going to hit.
One of my great moments of inspiration came from my second son. About four, five years ago I was supervising teeth time, and I saw him, standing on his little stool over the bathroom sink, brushing away. His head was tilted forward, his shoulders slumped and his back rounded out.
My first boy tends strongly toward his mother’s side of the family. My third was too young at that time. But little Andy-man (not his real name), well he’s a miniature carbon copy of me and seeing him there, well, suddenly I wasn’t seeing him. For the first time in my life I saw me, really saw ME, as others see me.
Seeing him standing there in my “comfortable slouch” was jarring. I’ve talked about poor posture, and its negative health consequences. Extensively. I even have a website for that exact purpose. In fact, I started it because seeing my little Andy-man, slouching down the road to a lifetime of poor posture and back problems, like me. It inspired me to make a change.
You see, I could tell him to stand up straight. I could tell him all the rational, logical reasons to stand up straight, but it didn’t matter. He had no emotional attachment to good posture, he did have an emotional attachment to being like Daddy.
And so it was for me. I knew all the reasons for fixing my posture. I knew I didn’t look good. I knew I had pinched nerves and back pain. I knew I had neck problems and migraines. Didn’t matter, all the rational arguments in the world made no difference because I had no emotional attachment to good posture. Thing is, I do have an emotional attachment to raising strong, healthy, successful children. When I saw my little boy slouched over brushing his teeth it hit, and it hit hard.
It inspired me to change. To learn to undo a lifetime of bad habits, and the damage they caused. To learn what to do, to eliminate the barriers to doing it, to show up, and to do it. To make it a part of my life and most of all, to make it permanent. To make a change.
Inspiration. It got me going.
But it didn’t keep me going. Change is hard, and it doesn’t get easier as you get older. It’s said that the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago, and the second best time is right now. It’s the same with a healthy lifestyle. The best time for me to learn proper posture and spine maintenance was 40 years ago. The second best time was the moment I actually began.
So, what do you do?
Well, let’s we return to the theological roots of inspiration for…inspiration (yeah, I know, sorry).
What do all religious traditions have in common? A search for the divine. Call it whatever you want, it boils down to seeking to receive from the great unknow. Call it meditation, call it prayer, call it communing with nature, call it a vision quest, call it what you will.
If inspiration doesn’t come to you, go to it, seek it out. And when it arrives, don’t reject it, receive it.
But what is the precondition to receiving? Being open. Being willing to receive. Logic and reason are useless without a receiving frame of mind. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.
So start with the change you want to make, then make it personal. Look inside and find what matters. Inspiration to fix my back and posture didn’t come from knowing the right reasons. It came from an emotional attachment to doing the best for my boys.
Do you want to lose weight? Don’t look at pictures of anorectic super models, you have no attachment to them. But what about fitting into your old clothes? You know, the ones you put away in the late 90s, “just until you lose the Christmas weight.” Look at pictures from back in the day, when you liked how you look. Seek inspiration in what you are already attached to.
Whatever change you want to manifest, seek inspiration in your own life.
If we can find inspiration we can strike the spark that starts the engine. If we control that engine, through discipline and showing up, it will take us anywhere we want to go. If we’re lucky, along the way it will take us a few places we need to go. Whether we know it or not.