The past few weeks I fell into a habit of playing games on my cell phone in my free time. “Just one quick game,” I’d tell myself. Then I’d find that I had been playing for thirty minutes, and now I’d lost the motivation and time to do anything else, so I’d just keep playing until bedtime. The next thing I knew I had quickly fallen into a nightly habit of zoning out that way, and I’d lost all inspiration for meaningful, purposeful action (or intentional inaction).
A few days ago, I listened to Mark Nepo’s audio program Holding Nothing Back while doing household chores. As I was listening, I immediately felt things shifting inside of me. It snapped me out of this going-through-the-motions rut I had been in and inspired me to live life more fully. Since then, I have been making more conscious choices about how I want to spend my time and energy.
I wish I could just decide to feel inspired and it would happen, but it doesn’t always work that way. We can’t force inspiration, but we can, as my dear friend and teacher Tobin Hart says, woo and welcome it, as happened to me with the audio program. We can cultivate the ground in which it grows. Below is a list of things that woo inspiration, creativity, and joy for me. It’s helpful to have a list so that when I get in a rut, I have multiple ways I can invite inspiration back in. I share it in the hopes that it will help you connect with what inspires you.
FAVORITE WAYS TO WOO INSPIRATION, CREATIVITY, AND JOY:
1. Listen to an inspiring audio program or podcast. There are many inspiring free programs available online and at the library. One of my favorites is Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist Tara Brach’s weekly dharma talk, which is accessible as a free podcast. I am also a Ted Talk junkie.
2. Music. Listen to music or, even better, make your own. Also helpful is listening to bilateral sounds that stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. This quickly helps me shift into a calmer, more whole-brained state, ripe for wooing creativity and joy.
3. Go outside. I especially love a walk in the woods, camping, and lake swimming. But when those things aren’t accessible, something as simple as sitting on my back porch or walking through my neighborhood help cultivate the ground for inspiration.
4. Move your body. Movement regulates blood flow in the brain, stimulating creativity. When I exercise with this intention in mind it helps even more. Some of my favorite kinds of movement are yoga, dancing, walking, swimming, and jogging.
5. Ask. Sometimes I just ask for inspiration, much like an intention or a prayer. I invite all parts of me to open to the creativity and joy that is already within me. Once I ask for inspiration, I let go and stay on the lookout for it, because I know it will be there if I am willing to receive it.
6. Play! I know I don’t play enough. I spend far too much time focused on my to-do list. But the truth is, in order to feel inspired and creative we need to play and for significant amounts of time. Play is so limited in my life that I know I would benefit from making an additional list of ways to play. That list might include speaking in silly voices, a dance party in my kitchen, board games that make me laugh, throwing a ball, hula hooping, stilt walking, laughter yoga, etc.
7. Journal. Having a place to express myself fully, even if self-expression means complaining about feeling completely uninspired in my life, helps me become more conscious of what is really going on. Often times processing my feelings, struggles, and experiences in writing gives rise to inspiration. Sometimes just giving it a voice helps it shift.
8. Meditate. Being still and quiet invites inspiration and creativity.
9. Spend time with someone inspirational. I’ve learned to pay close attention to how I feel after my encounters with different individuals in my life. When I am in a rut, it is a good idea for me to seek out the people with whom I tend to feel enlivened and inspired. And it’s better for me to avoid too much contact with individuals with whom our interactions leave me feeling depleted and uninspired, ready to head straight to bed with my cell phone game.
10. Make healthy food choices. When I eat a healthy diet of natural foods, I feel more alive in general. This helps with inspiration.
11. Say no to things that keep me feeling uninspired. There are certain things that I know do not in any way woo inspiration. For me that list might include too much screen time, too much busy-ness, junk food, inactivity, and certain relationships.
12. Psych-k ®. Psych-K is a set of “belief-change technologies” that rapidly shift limiting beliefs to more supportive ones. It can be used to address beliefs that may be limiting us from accessing inspiration, expressing creativity, and feeling joy.
13. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT, or Tapping, involves tapping with your fingertips on meridian end points that are used in acupuncture and acupressure, and can be extremely effective at quickly reducing resistance to creativity, inspiration, and action.
I am always open to new ideas and reminders to help me live a more inspired life. I welcome you to share your ways of wooing inspiration below.