Take a moment to think about the inspirational people in your life and how have they inspired you. This post is about acknowledging all those people who lift you up and motivate you, and realizing that you too are one of those people.
Inspiration is an amazing thing. It creates positive feelings in people, and it fills them with the urge to do something creative and to feel good. The word comes from Latin inspirare which means to breathe or blow into. The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, to impart a truth or idea to someone. Even today, the word is very accurate since inspirational people do impart truth in our lives, breathing new life into a sometimes stale perspective.
The thing about inspiration is that is it requires some effort. You have to choose to be inspired. There are people all around us everyday who are truly inspirational, but if you are not looking you will miss them all together. But the good news is that deliberately choosing to be inspired tends to create a more consistent inspired state over time. That is, the more you flip the switch, the more it becomes automatic and spontaneous.
When it comes to who can be inspirational, the answer is anyone, including you. It doesn’t take a formal education, wealth or power, it is something we possess inside of us. Living in a world of billions of people it is easy to forget how truly unique each and every one of us are, and how we can use that to inspire others.
For me, inspiration is a funny thing. Often times I find those people who could be inspiring to be just the opposite. If they are too perfect or too fake or too “in your face” instead of feeling lifted, I start to shut down. I feel jealous and even angry at them and for their perfect lives or my lack of one. Instead of feeling lifted, I feel put down even though that was probably not the person’s intention. So that led me to think about what it is that actually makes someone inspirational. By characterizing the traits of inspirational people we can both prepare ourselves to be awakened to those individuals around us, and to become one of those people ourselves.
1. Be Genuine. I think this is really important, because inspirational people always embrace who they are. They take it for all it is good and bad, and they use it, shape it, and make themselves successful because of or in spite of it. Sometimes we get so busy trying to be someone we are not because we think that’s what people want we forget that being ourselves is the one truly unique thing we have to offer. “Never forget who you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like an armour and it can never be used to hurt you.”- Tyrian Lannister
2.Be Positive. The great thing about positivity is that it is contagious. The bad thing is that so is negativity. Everything that happens in life is neither good nor bad, it just depends on your perspective. By choosing to see things in a positive way you are helping yourself live a more fulfilled life and you will encourage those around you to do the same.
3. Lead by example. It may be cliché but actions do speak louder than words. Don’t just talk about doing something, do it. Don’t long for the life you wish you had, live it. Be the person you want to be and that is who you are. One of the quickest ways I lose respect for people is finding out that while they talk the talk, they don’t follow through. I remember getting down on my hands and knees and scrubbing the bathroom floor at work when the cleaner called in sick because everyone else was busy, and I always said that I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.
4. Share your successes and failures. People cannot appreciate where you have come from or what you have achieved without knowing both sides of the story. While you may want to burn all the pictures of you from when you were 60lbs overweight, no one will appreciate your struggle without seeing them. While it can be scary to openly admit your failures, odds are there are others out there who are failing and will really appreciate that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
5. Be Enthusiastic. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about something, and yet sometimes we feel like we have to curb our enthusiasm to stay within the accepted norm. Don’t. There are some people out there who really lack passion in their lives, and seeing you can help open their eyes to the world of possibility out there.
6. Challenge those around you. People who inspire do not get to where they are by standing on the backs of others. They encourage them to rise up and share the opportunities for happiness. It’s not about what I have that you don’t, it’s about showing you how you can get to the same place I am, even if it’s not by following the same path.
7. Make people feel good about themselves. People will rarely remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Make an effort to make others feel good. How many times have you thought something like “oh I like those shoes” but kept it to yourself because it is a complete stranger. Say it! Don’t be fake, just take the time to spread a little love whether it’s through a smile, a hug, or just a simple thank you.
8. Listen. The world is one big dialogue. A person who standing in the middle of a party shouting at everyone may be surrounded by people but they are actually the most alone. Engaging with people is the best way to make connections, and that includes listening to what they have to say. And once you are truly listening you may be surprised by what you can actually hear. Enlightenment comes at some of the most unlikely times.
9. Have a good moral compass. Despite the hundreds of philosophies and religions out there certain themes ring true. Right thoughts lead to right words which lead to right actions. We are so lucky to have an innate sense of right and wrong, but its amazing how quickly we learn to override it. If you think you shouldn’t say something don’t. If doing something feels wrong, don’t do it. I can honestly say that there are several things I have done while overriding my conscience that I later regretted, but I have never regretted following my conscience even though it would have been temporarily advantageous to do so.
10. Let go of the past. While our past makes us who we are, if we hold on to it too tightly it becomes baggage that weights us down and keeps us from moving forward. Learn from it, celebrate it, but never forget to live in the present moment. Similarly appreciate others for who they are. They are not their past any more than you are yours. Each time you meet someone act like you are encountering them for the first time and with fresh eyes appreciate them for exactly who they are and not who they used to be or who you wish they were.
11. Take Risks. Sometimes you have to take the smart risk in life in order to succeed so don’t be afraid to take them. As long as you are staying true to yourself and your morals then something will be gained, no matter what the outcome.
As part of the parenting community we have a wonderful opportunity to both look to each other for inspiration as well as to be inspirational, all it takes is a little effort. I encourage all of my fellow parents to put aside the petty judgements, the guilt, the anger, and everything else that drains the energy you so desperately need to be a good parent. Instead surround yourself with people who make you feel good and become one of those people yourself. I can honestly say that even if I have only ever truly inspired one person that still made my life worth living.
This post is dedicated to all the people who have inspired me throughout my life and specifically to Be Inspired Mama who prompted me to write this post.