Lacking Inspiration? A New Emotion Might Help

The word inspiration often conjures up nebulous, vague, airy images. It can be difficult to pin down what is missing when we aren’t feeling inspired, but we often feel 'heavy' or listless. Is there a more practical way to think about and generate inspiration rather than waiting for it to 'strike'?

Our word inspiration comes from Latin and means to "breathe in." Taking a deep breath can help us begin to generate inspiration, but there's more. Out of the two hundred or so emotions humans have, there are some that help us become and stay inspired. 

To list just a few:

  • Hope tells us the future can be better than the past
  • Passion drives us to immerse ourselves in a certain activity
  • Wonder connects us with things we don’t understand but find attractive
  • Faith gives us the ability to believe without evidence
  • Delight occurs when we find something fun and enjoyable


You will probably notice that if inspiration is lacking, you're in one of these emotions:

  • Boredom which means there is nothing of value to me here
  • Obligation which can lead us to feel overly responsible at times
  • Ambition in which you are pursuing an objective and doesn’t allow time or space for inspiration
  • Anxiety which keeps us looking for danger

Why not experiment to see if you can inspire yourself? It only takes a few steps and can have surprising results.

  1. Sit down somewhere comfortable and quiet and take a deep breath. Breathing through your nose, fill your lungs fully and slowly release all the air. When you think your lungs are empty push a bit more. Repeat this five times.
  2. Think about your lack of inspiration. What are you doing that inspiration isn’t present? What emotion is moving you to do what you are busy with?
  3. What emotion would take you out of your boredom, obligation, or ambition? Is it one listed or something else. There are other many possibilities: Adventureousness, play, joy.
  4. Who can help you shift to one of those? Often we need the support of others when we get temporarily stuck in an emotion. What activity could you lose yourself in? What would be enjoyable enough to forget the passage of time? What have you been yearning to do but dismissed as silly or not worthwhile?
  5. When will you begin?

Inspiration isn't something we need to wait for. We can invite it, create it, generate it. Our ability to do that demonstrates our emotional intelligence and is key to our well-being. When we realize our emotions don't control us and that we have a tremendous influence on what emotion we are in and its impact on our life.

12/3/2019 8:00:00 AM
Dan Newby
Written by Dan Newby
Dan Newby is the founder of and author of several well-received books on Emotional Literacy. He works with individuals and organizations globally to elevate their emotional awareness and competence. He is a global champion for emotional learning and literacy. Dan leads online courses and workshops ...
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