Yoga & Spa Magazine Winter 2019 Inspire Issue

Page 35


hat exactly IS inspiration? Think of a moment in which you have felt truly inspired by someone or something. You likely felt both an increased motivation to work toward a certain goal, as well as a connection to something greater. Inspiration is often described in spiritual or religious terms, as a divine message because of which the soul ignites. Inspiration is what allows us to see beyond what is, and allows us to see a world of possibilities. In other words, it allows us to transcend our current experience. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman reviewed the psychological research on inspiration, noting that inspiration was found to be related to the personality trait of Openness to Experience and not Conscientiousness. He concluded that “…inspiration is something that happens to you and is not something that is willed” to happen through conscientious work. Kaufman also notes that inspiration is linked to increased positive mood, as well as increased progress on goals, interestingly without competitiveness. This suggests that inspiration creates an internal motivation that is not about “winning” or outperforming others. If inspiration is that valuable (and feels that good), how can we experience it more often? Given that research indicates that it is evoked spontaneously, inspiration is akin to creativity. It’s not something we can force, or simply work hard enough and be guaranteed to experience. However, there are certain things we can do to set the stage for inspiration to strike:

How to Encourage


1. Become open to the experience. Try to challenge limiting thoughts that inspiration cannot happen and instead open the door to the possibility that you can be inspired and have creative ideas. Allow yourself to imagine. Shift thoughts from observing "what is" to thinking of "what is possible". 2. Be a kid again. Further your openness by getting in touch with the dreams you had as a child, before life taught you to believe they could not happen. When an idea strikes, think, “how can I make that happen” instead of all the reasons “that can’t happen.” 3. Get in a good mood. Easier said than done, right? But, research shows that not only does inspiration create well-being, but also positive mood precedes inspiration.1 Gratitude exercises, meditation, quality time and conversation with family or friends are great ways to increase positive mood to set the stage for inspiration. 4. Have an approach-oriented attitude. Fear and anxiety can make us have an avoidance attitude. Shifting into an approach orientation means that you’re willing to move toward problems and goals with action, rather than avoiding them. Inspiration is linked to an approach orientation.1 5. Take action and make progress toward goals. Achieving goals can increase the likelihood of feeling inspired to set and achieve future goals.2 6. Read about or surround yourself with inspiring people. Role models or mentors who have achieved goals similar to yours or individuals who have overcome great obstacles to achieve success can create inspiration in you.

Dr. Katie Boyd is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Boyd specializes in individual therapy with adults, with a focus on treating anxiety. Visit her website for more information.

By allowing yourself to be open and focusing on how things could be possible rather than shutting down ideas with limiting “that won’t work” thoughts, you could experience more inspiration in your daily life. That inspiration can lead to overall improved mood and achievement.

Kaufman, S. B. (2011). Why Inspiration Matters. Psychology Today. Retrieved from 1

Milyavskaya, M., Ianakieva, I., Foxen-Craft, E., Colantuoni, A., & Koestner, R. (2012). Inspired to get there: The effects of trait and goal inspiration on goal progress. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(1), 56-60. 2 | WINTER 2019


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