Are inspiration and motivation two manifestations of the same thing? Or are they different things entirely? They are similar in that they both affect how we feel but are very different in how they make us feel. If there were an Inspiration Continuum, motivation would be at one end, and inspiration would be at the other.
Inspiration is soul-centered creativity that powers focused activity toward a mental goal. It influences desire, emotion, and yearning. Inspiration is a harbinger of creation. Artists call it “the Muse.” Athletes think of it as being “in the zone.” When someone is inspired, she finds herself accomplishing more than usual. Time flows differently. Hours feel like minutes. The inspired person practices more, studies more, eliminates bad habits, takes more risks, and overcomes negative thoughts and difficult situations. The inspired person is internally driven, highly focused, and optimistic. She is willing to do whatever is necessary to get what she sees in her mind’s eye.
Inspired people alter the course of history. They do the impossible in spite of overwhelming odds. They build cathedrals and cities, launch businesses, establish governments, and bring enduring religions to life. They create timeless masterpieces of art, write classic novels, eliminate incurable diseases, and take us into space and the sub-atomic world of quantum mechanics.
Some of the greatest minds in the world have made their contributions while suffering from devastating physical and mental disabilities. Others have innovated and created with few resources other than their own internal vision of what could be. They are unshakable in their resolve to turn the mental into the physical.
Inspiration is ever present and accessible to all but rarely realized. For most people, inspiration is a fleeting thought, a disregarded idea, or a dream in the night. Of these people Thoreau wrote, “The masses lead lives of quiet desperation.”
In a global culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration as a harbinger for meaning, fulfillment, creativity, passion, and life-changing ideas.
Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels us from apathy to possibility and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities.
Inspiration energizes, ignites, invigorates, elevates, enlightens, expands, and galvanizes. Originating from the fountain of all wisdom, inspiration is the highest form of learning and the foundational thought of all good things. May we all be gifted to recognize it when inspiration manifests itself in our minds and hearts.