Art in Action: 4 Ws of Living Life Inspired

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Art in Action is a weekly post: a short, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

Creativity isn’t something that some people have and some people don’t. Creativity is a way of moving through the world, a way of approaching life. Creativity is a choice. And while we have no control over how and why we get inspiration (or don’t), we do have the ability to put ourselves in a receptive position to receive it. Get curious about the circumstances in which you are inspired.

Here are 4 Ws for intentionally seeking inspiration; four ways to increase your chances of being there when the light bulb comes on.

1. Who – Ever spend time with someone and walk away with your heart humming and your spirit tingling? Some people are just inspiring to be with. Notice how you feel when you hang out with different people and make a point to spend time with at least one inspiring person every day. It might be your child or your writer friend or it might be watching Oprah or reading Brené Brown. Whoever it is, make time to be with them today.

2. What – Notice what you’re doing when you have even the smallest feeling of – Ah! Cool! That’s it! Knowing what activities inspire you can be huge in creating a creative life – and what you notice may surprise you. I get great ideas when I’m weeding. A friend gets her writing inspirations in the shower. Another person I know gets insights while driving. Yet another when swimming laps. Meditation and prayer are a common time to have flashes of insight. Be aware of what you’re doing when the lightning bolts (or the tiny sparks) hit … then do those things often and with a notebook handy.

3. Where – There are places that open us up and light us up. Where are you when you feel the breath of inspiration? Walking in nature? Sitting in a chapel? Lying in the grass? Swinging on a swing? Working in your office? Going to those places doesn’t guarantee that inspiration will be there, but it’s like watching for shooting stars: it’s not a sure thing you’ll see them as you gaze at the night sky but you can be absolutely positive you won’t see them while watching Survivor.

4. When – Some times of the day are more fertile for creativity. For some people, it’s late at night. Or maybe after the kids have left for school. Some get great ideas when they are tired and others when they are well-rested. For me, I get all kinds of inspiration in that slippery sliver of time when I’m not really sleeping and not really awake. Over time, I’ve learned to take those little early morning bubbles of creativity seriously. They are ideas worth pursuing. Which leads to…

BONUS W – Work it. Once you’ve gotten a hit of inspiration, act on it. If you have an idea about a story to write or a way to solve a problem at work, use it, act on it, do it. If you get a flash that you should give someone that book you love or take your kiddo to a concert or plant 600 daffodils in your yard, go do it. You might come up against resistance (in yourself or in others). Check that. You definitely will come up against resistance. When you do, rather than giving up on the idea, get curious about what’s stopping you. It might be a valid issue (you live in an apartment with three flower pots – no room for 600 bulbs). And the resistance might be (it probably is) fear wanting to keep you from stepping outside doing things as usual. As Seth Godin says, resistance is great. It means you’re on the right track and onto something big. So instead of giving up, work it.

Inspiration feels great. It’s a worthy endeavor to pursue situations that inspire you. And once you get the spark … act on it. Follow through. See what happens. The outcome isn’t your business, your job is to show up and allow what comes through to actually come through you.

  1. Pete Kashatus said:

    Creativity is something I have thought about a great deal over the years. You would think as a teacher of math and computer science I would be a stickler for algorithms and precise problem solving strategies but I was constantly amazed by my students who solved problems or wrote interesting computer code that showed out-of -the-box thinking. I am dismayed by some teachers and administrators today who insist upon problems being done using very specific techniques. Creativity is all about exploring, intuition based on previous experiences, sometimes lucky guesses or being in the right place at the right time. It is not bad to have a technique to fall back on when nothing else seems to work but the fun and excitement is in finding some new way to see or do. I am finding this as a very novice artist trying my hand at water color painting. I am beginning to learn that good artists are those who are keen observers and see the world in colors and shapes and arrangements that often escape me but I keep working at it. What a great topic. “Creativity”

    • I love this, Pete! And exactly what I’m talking about… We can choose creativity no matter what we’re doing. Thanks for sharing this. You inspire me!

  2. Pete Kashatus said:

    One other thought. Can you teach young kids to be creative? My opinion is that most kids are naturally creative. This is brought home to me every time I work with one of my grandkids on some project. They try all kinds of crazy ideas and if it doesn’t work they just try something else until they get something that works. Instead of teaching kids to be creative, we should simply avoid driving the creativity out of them by having them all do their work the same way.

    • Right on, Pete. It’s only adults who need coaxing back to expanding their view of themselves and the possibilities! ❤

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