Ever wondered about inspiration and how to keep being inspired by life? This Blog is a simple philosophical discussion about enjoying inspiration in your life - a skill that can be learned and how it might start with awareness and acceptance of the end.
The culture we live in is complex and is comprised of millions of people, each with their own vivid imaginations and interpretations of life, partly informed by their experiences (nurture) and partly by their genetic makeup (nature). Each person is trying to be happy in their own way.
A MODEL FOR WELLBEING?
There are infinite ways in which one might feel a sense of well, but largely people equate this with happiness. At the root of this is a sense of connection with something in life that feels enriching and fulfilling. This is unique to each individual.
Happiness is a tricky word because everyone sees it differently. My friend Mark calls it ‘have-peace-ness’ to imply that happiness is more than just a fleeting emotion. Theories of happiness, like the PERMA model (Positivity, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishments), propose that by focusing on certain attributes of life, in a certain way, happiness will more likely occur - it states:
“Find the things that make you happy and can make you fully engaged. You could even put goals to achieving more and challenging yourself in the activities you enjoy. Focus on your relationships with your family and friends by finding ways to connect and enjoy each other's company. Find the meaning to your life and what gives you a sense of purpose, it’s different for everyone.” - PERMA model website
This is not quite as simple as it sounds. Humans’ primary needs are always around survival. After that it depends on the unique and individual nuances of psychology to find a sense of belonging, self-esteem and self-actualisation, which is where a sense of meaning to life becomes important.
“As each individual is unique the motivation for self-actualisation leads people in different directions. For some people self-actualization can be achieved through creating works of art or literature, for others through sport, in the classroom, or within a corporate setting.” (Kenrick et al., 2010)
Maslow (1962) believed self-actualisation could be measured through the concept of peak experiences. This occurs when a person experiences the world totally for what it is, and there are feelings of euphoria, joy and wonder.
IS IT WORTH IT?
If one struggles to find ‘meaning’ it could lead to a focus on problems, pessimism, hopelessness and negativity. This mindset will then look for ‘earthly value’, instead of a deeper meaning - a sense of ‘what’s it worth?’ This is where the ego comes into play (the part of the mind that forms the image who you think you are - your identity). The ego sometimes thinks that being perceived as ‘important’ (by oneself or by others) is a good indicator of value, because of the positive emotions it gives in the short term. Yet in the long term this can lead to a life based only on achievement, future thinking or being externally validated, which can be very hard indeed. At some point one will be forced to ask deeper questions about the purpose and direction of one's life.
“Life ... is a tale
Alan Watts notices how music is all about the ensemble and celebrating all parts. However, because the human mind loves drama and story it will seek it by looking for deeper complex story, meaning and to establish a hierarchy of what is ‘important’ and what is no. What is good and what is bad? This is reflected in our culture and people around you. These will be about self interest and largely based on fear, insecurity or worry that they won’t be ‘successful’ or that we are doing things in the ‘wrong’ way.
LOVE VS FEAR
The opposite of that is love - to have gratitude for what is, to appreciate each other and celebrate differences. To let each other experience and express themselves as they are. This doesn't mean we let people do things that are harmful to one another, no - that’s why we have laws and communities, to protect each other from actions borne from fear, which in turn fuels anger, grief and shame.
The collective fear is the impression that our deep desires for beauty and love are liabilities -they are dangerous, selfish, indulgent and stupid. If we put them first then we will ignore the needs of others and the practical requirements for a life. We will be lazy slobs! These are legitimate concerns, yet we can also balance that in remembering that fear can be easily disguised as practicality.
STAY IN LOVE
Jim Carrey suggests that if we find the balance,by letting our inner selves shine, by finding what is inspiring inside, if we choose things more from our playful hearts, then we might find a nice surprise. if we stay in connection with what we love then we will naturally develop compassion and the desire to help others, because happiness is more vivid when shared and we can only be partially happy if we are not including the world around us in it. When we look out into the world and see others in pain we will be inspired to help. Organically created, this derives from an inner sense of inspiration, instead of external sense of egoistic value or importance.
WHEN WE ARE STRESSED
Depression, apathy, limiting self-beliefs, anger or anxiety can hinder inner connection, intuition and inspiration as much as thoughts of greed and expectation can. Yet at the same time these emotions are helpful - they are signposts that require you listen carefully. And when opened up and looked at skilfully the thoughts of need and expectation can also be teachers, gifts and helpful. The trick is to ask good questions of the body and the mind (which are of course all part of the same single being). The unskillful way is to become impotent by thinking his is important, that one needs to do something.
HOW TO WIN AT LIFE
So we’d like to relax this need, right? Because acting from a state of emotional overwhelm is always problematic, or egoic thought , which is all based on fear for survival, - it is incredibly draining for you and or others, it creates negativity and a world of ‘needs/should’,or fear, obligation, guilt - a FOG of confusion. Positive thought is fuelled on creative endeavours, with a letting go of need. When we act from this we gain energy, inspiration, appreciation and love. So my theory of winning or success is the realisation of asking the question, in each moment, What’s Inspiring Now (WIN)., or what do I need, how do I feel, how do you feel, what might they be needing… this is empathy and it can be directed inward or outward. Asking these questions repeatedly leads you to reprogram the mind to focus on being the change you want to see in the world, rather than running from the things you hate or fear. On some level it requires an inner confidence, a trust, which can only be created in feeling inside, for a length of time, whilst letting go of negative thought. Only then may one express honestly.
One can wait for life to threaten our life in order to see this truth, through stress or pain or illness, or one can delve inside to discover it before that happens - to take preventive care, in the same way one brushed your teeth before you experience tooth decay. Meditation is this kind of practice - is is the art of listening, in non-reaction and non-judgement. It is designed to cultivate the art of intuition, which leads to more inspiration. When we are in contact with our bodies, with a calm mind, we can better realise, What’s Inspiring Now. We can also notice our emotions, like fear, with more curiosity and perspective. This leads to the ability to respond, rather than react. The ability to channel emotions positively and to adopt positive attitudes, even when one thinks ‘life is pointless’. This is a simple choice to feel into each moment of the dance, or the journey, to see that the journey is the destination - the moment is the point. When we keep returning to it we can more successfully stay in love, stay connected and stay inspired.k
If you are interested in learning more and practising mindfulness please contact me and arrange a drop-in to one of my classes, or set up a one to one session.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com