Inspiration Is An Inside Job

Have you ever been inspired in the presence of natural beauty, a piece of music, or a work of art? Or maybe you’ve been inspired by a particular quote, some grand architecture or a special companion?

I can say yes to all the above and, of course, there are hundreds of other possibilities. Yet, paradoxically, we can learn more from the anomalies – the times we are inspired for no apparent reason. Has this ever happened to you? Here’s a story of how it happened to me.

It was a dull, wet morning and I was attending a course in London. This was the third day that I had been commuting and because it was now Saturday, instead of the weekday crowds, there were just a handful of people waiting for the train.

Collar up, I sheltered under the canopy. Outside its reach was a dirty puddle, its surface pock-marked by each raindrop. On the opposite platform, the greenery that clung to the fence was soaked and bedraggled and, in the gulf between, the tracks lay dark and greasy.

Then, completely unexpectedly, I was overwhelmed with the joy of being alive. It was if my senses were suddenly switched to full volume – I was thrilled by the scent of freshness; I was able to hear the exquisite singing of a blackbird; I could feel energy surge through my body. My eyes welled at the sheer beauty of the scene; I felt so glad to be part of it.

At the time, I couldn’t explain how this happened and for many years afterwards it remained one of those anomalies. While it ‘made sense’ to be inspired at the top of a mountain, this didn’t apply to an ordinary railway station!

But over the last year or so, I’ve come to realise that whatever experience I have is created first by my thinking. Whether this is conscious or not doesn’t matter – my thoughts are the origin of my experience. This is true for you too and every other human being.

As being inspired is a particular type of experience (a very rewarding and life-affirming one) this too must come from our thinking. Somehow, at that rain-soaked station, my thinking led me to the inspiring experience.

Now comes a tempting but ultimately fruitless folly – to attempt to control the thoughts we have. We can’t – by the time we realise they are thoughts, we’ve already thought them! Neither can we think ourselves into inspiration by will-power – I guess you’ve already proved this to yourself – becoming inspired is not an intellectual process.

Fortunately we have another priceless human characteristic – a built-in bias towards inspiration. Whenever our thinking gets less busy, our nature is to find inspiration, just like a compass needle will naturally find north when interfering magnetic forces are removed.

This is what happened to me waiting for the train – my interfering thinking died down enough for my natural bias towards inspiration to be revealed. Whenever you are inspired, the same is true.

Remember that you are the creator of inspiration. Rather than your world inspiring you, you inspire your world!


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