Per Google, the definition of inspiration is as follows: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
Now, like most, I feel inspired by people, their journeys, and their stories. Oftentimes, it’s these stories and the protagonist’s ability to grind through difficult circumstances and rise above adversity to accomplish something seemingly impossible. Whatever the story, or difficulty, it’s that end result that we love and leaves us feeling like we can go climb that mountain. But why?
Why is it that we feel energized, hopeful, and inspired after watching that TED Talk, listening to that podcast episode, or conversing with that friend who has been going through some tough shit? On the surface, I would say it’s pretty easy to identify the reasoning. People are incredible and we are hardwired to adapt, to survive, and to make the most out of nearly every situation so, only naturally, we crave these stories and relish in others’ success.
I do want to acknowledge, and not simply gloss over, the struggles, the hardship, and the loss many people feel throughout the process of overcoming. But, something does have to resonate with you to “do or feel something, especially to do something creative”, and it must happen at a deeper level.
A perfect example for me is the true story of The Man in the Red Bandana. Welles Crowther, the protagonist in this inspirational story, helps trapped victims in the World Trade Center on September 11th and who unfortunately dies while saving lives. The unbelievably touching twist in this narrative is that, before this act of selfless heroism, Welles had plans to leave his job in finance to become a New York City firefighter. It wasn’t until weeks after Welles’s death, that his father found a half-completed application in his apartment. Welles used what firefighter training he had to save others—a true sacrifice.
Undoubtedly this story raises many emotions and is incredibly inspirational on a multitude of levels. However, for me, I wasn’t ready to join the local fire department and become a firefighter. Which leads me back to the deeper question of why? Why am I inspired?
If we are able to identify with and implement something from these inspirational stories, then we are able to spur action in our own lives—at least that’s my take. So I guess my next question is, if you love that feeling of being inspired at a deeper level, where, again, it prompts you to sign-up for that yoga class, or pick up your first book in years, or even pre-maturely register for that upcoming 5K, why aren’t we seeking out more inspirational stories?
To be frank, I struggle with this active search for inspiration. As to why, I am not quite sure. Perhaps it’s the fear of judgment I will receive if I start something new and fail, or comparing myself and my journey to that of the protagonist, or maybe I was never inspired to do “the thing” in the first place. Yet, I want to explore more of this because I love where inspiration has taken me so far: to move my body continually for 26.2 miles, to explore some great National Parks in southern Utah, and have a tremendous drive to be the best parent I can be, if and when that day comes knocking.
But I will say this, I will strive to search for true inspiration whether it be through reading, through conversing, or through other means and I will start by identifying what I want to work towards. From there, I know it will be easy to find countless others who have gone before me and laid the foundation needed for my soon-to-be accomplishments. In a sense, sometimes you need to be inspired to search for inspiration—whew that’s something to think about!
I challenge you to seek out what motivates you and what inspires you so that you can become that protagonist in that story for someone else to feel something and to spark action in their life.