We all need a touch of inspiration to reignite the fire in our soul, be it to stimulate creative ideas for a project we are working on or simply to break the monotony of life’s autopilot and lose ourselves in the moment of possibility for a while.
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle that steals our time and robs us of feeling connected to personal inspirations that give us a zest for life.
I personally felt this disconnection last week. I’d been wandering through a routine for a solid while and felt detached from the things I enjoy that make me feel inspired; simple things like listening to music, going for evening walks and socialising with friends.
So I took affirmative action and wrote down a list of things I like doing on my whiteboard, as a way of reminding myself to incorporate these things back into my life on a regular basis.
This got me thinking about other inspirational actions that we can all do to put a spring in our step and help us make peace with our seemingly nonsensical existence.
Here are 12 I came up with:
1. Get out into the world and connect with other humans
Work, family commitments and the general daily grind often prevent us from being the sociable beings we were designed to be. Instead of making time for this essential human pleasure, we substitute the real thing for virtual friendship on Facebook, or a TV series that engages the mind with interesting characters.
This really isn’t enough though. You are human. You need social interaction, and plenty of it. You thrive on talking, laughing, debating, helping, listening, smiling and generally being part of a group (tribe). So make time for nights out, days out, a coffee and a chat, a walk with a friend. Don’t be too busy to socialise. It is absolutely essential to your wellbeing.
Note: Being sociable at work doesn’t fill this void, so make sure you meet friends for chats and fun in the real world.
2. Make a cup of your favourite tea (metaphorically)
I’m throwing this into the list because I have a passion for teas of the world that I tend to forget about. At times I go weeks without getting out my collection of teas and one of my teapots to indulge in the making of a soothing green or lotus flower tea.
The fact that this is about tea is metaphoric in a way because it could be anything you like really, just something simple and rewarding that you enjoy doing and takes you away from the day’s monotony and into a warm, spacious place for a while.
3. Book a trip to somewhere you’ve never been
It doesn’t have to be to the Rocky Mountains, though I’d love to go, but just somewhere that makes your face light up when you think about a visit. It could be anywhere: a new museum in town, a famous railway station you once read about, a national park, whatever, just book it and treat yourself to its wonders.
4. Change your perspective on something
There is always more than one way to look at a situation, and we do ourselves a disservice when we close our minds to possibility. So break for five minutes today and consider a situation that troubles you and mentally explore its dynamics.
I often break from writing for a moment and look out of the window at the swaying trees and vast sky. Fixated on nothing in particular, I allow the situation to process through my mind of its own accord, allowing for an alternative viewpoint to emerge on whatever I’m thinking about. This is a particularly good exercise when you are seeking creative solutions.
5. Create an inspiring work space
Tidy room, tidy mind, so the saying goes, but tidy might not be as inspiring for you as it is for me. So take a look around at the space you are working in and see how it makes you feel. Is the clutter making you feel penned in? Is the blandness of an overly organised, minimal desk making you feel glum?
Think about the things you enjoy looking at and love to be surrounded by and design a new and inspiring space. Perhaps bring in a plant or some pictures of your family to your office. If you work from home, or if you have the authority to change your office around at work, move your desk nearer the window so you can look outside whenever you like. Think about how you could create a more pleasant, inspiring place to sit and work.
6. Walk Among Mother Nature
At the core we are animals; sentient beings with an interdependent, interconnected relationship with the natural world. That is why it feels so good to be out in the fresh air, to see animals in the wild, to stand at the shore of the sea. So what are you waiting for? Get out of those four walls and go and spend some time with Mother Nature!
7. Sing in the shower
Who doesn’t love to sing, even if you have a terrible voice like me? Sure, a shower is always refreshing, but is transformed into a liberating, almost primal experience when you bellow out one of your favourite songs at the top of your voice as the water cascades down over your body. Stay in the shower for an extra 5 minutes today and enjoy a spot of singing.
8. Draw something (even if you are the world’s worst artist)
Even if you can’t draw for toffee, grab a pencil and pad and try. It’s fun, and even more so when shared as a group activity with your kids or partner. Choose an object in the room and draw it as you see it. There need be no reason to do this other than to simply drop down a couple of gears and exercise a bit of mental creativity. You might actually surprise yourself when someone says, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” Unfortunately, I usually just get laughed at, but I always enjoy trying.
9. Read any book for a minimum of 20 minutes
It is so easy to forget how enjoyable reading is, not least because these days most of the reading we do isn’t really reading, rather more like snippet-digestion of text messages, emails and social media posts. So fiction or non-fiction, whatever type of book you enjoy, make a date with a good book for a minimum of 20 minutes quiet reading time. Combine with #2 for a blissful experience.
10. Listen to forgotten music
I absolutely love music. From folk to drum and bass, I have broad taste and different moods inspire me to listen to different genres. Last week, however, it struck me that I haven’t been listening to much music lately.
I am conscious of this though: I’ll be tapping away on my laptop thinking, I’ll put some music on in a minute, or a specific song will pop into my mind from ‘way back when’ and inspire me to put it on. But then I’ll get distracted and forget. This is madness because listening to music can make even the most laborious task enjoyable, not to mention it takes just a few seconds to turn on.
So when you think about an artist or album you love, or when an old song pops into your mind and triggers some happy memories, don’t let the moment pass you by. Dig out the track, turn up your speakers and dance, whistle along, or just nod your head.
11. Do something spontaneous and fun
The definition of this will of course differ greatly between people, but all the same it’s an essential act of self-liberation. Spontaneous and fun in this context means something outside of the normality of your daily routine; something you wouldn’t normally do that will spice up your life a bit. It could mean that you suddenly feel the urge to run, and instead of ignoring this urge and carrying on with what you’re doing, you immediately put your trainers on and go outside and sprint for a minute or two. Or it could mean that you call up and friend and go clubbing on a week night, then go into work the next day feeling tired as hell but with a whopping smile on your face. Just break the monotony and live a little. You deserve it.
12. Play with your dog, cat, or kid(s)
I saved my favourite until last. Nothing makes me happier than playing games with my daughter. Her smile lights up my soul and, in that moment of seeing her happiness, life is absolutely complete for me.
If you haven’t got a child, or a niece or a nephew to spend time with, perhaps you have a dog or a cat. Or perhaps there’s someone you love being around but don’t get to spend as much time with as you’d like. So instead of spending time wishing you had more time, and thinking about how much you enjoy being with that pet or person, make time! Do it today. Take a day off work if you have to. You deserve it, they deserve it, and you will both benefit immensely from the connection.
Pluck a few things out of this list today and inspire yourself to be happier. Break the monotony by doing something fun and creative.