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Is Inspiration Deficit Disorder Haunting You?

by Dr. Jonathan Ellerby

It is one of those words that just sounds good. People hear it and know they want more of it – inspiration! To be inspired is to find something that fuels and excites - maybe even inspiring others. But what does it really mean, and how can it be channeled in the most beneficial way?

Inspiration is fundamentally a feeling, and it is one that communicates a kind of wisdom. It's an exhilarating merging of intuition, motivation, and clarity. It can become the foundation of work, relationships, health changes, invention, and transformation. Once it has taken root, if it is fed, it grows and eventually will bear fruit.

Inspiration is a spiritual quality. Its source is impossible to define; it feels bigger than the mind and deeper than emotion. Frequently, when people feel inspired, they say their ideas and actions are not their own doing. They say they "just know" what to do. They are certain that "something greater" has come to them – or through them. When a person "receives" an inspiration, they have a feeling of certainty and power, yet also humility and faith. Inspiration comes with its own evidence.

There are many people who are financially successful and have accomplished a lot but still report feeling lost or out of balance. Typically, it is the lack of inspiration that is at the heart of why they are still seeking happiness, peace, and meaning.

A great example is the case of a very accomplished director at one of the world's most successful technology companies. Extremely intelligent, financially set for life, but endlessly unhappy. He remarked to a counselor, "Despite years of therapy and having tried all the spiritual techniques that science has corroborated, happiness and joy still evade me."

His focus was always on what he had read, the things he could explain, and his tolerance was only for things that science could measure. His real problem was: Inspiration Deficit Disorder! His heart and soul had almost zero role in directing his life. He lived in a world that looked good on paper but was about as vital as a piece of paper, flat and cold. His choices were all approved by his mind but disconnected from the most important source of power available to him: his own heart and soul. Without this connection, like a plant kept from water and the sun, eventually his life had become stunted and dry.

A lack of inspiration, or Inspiration Deficit Disorder, is one of the most crippling ways to live. When a person lacks inspiration, they lack a sense of meaning, intuition, and purpose in life. They live from the outside in and not from the inside out. They live in reaction and not in response.

When someone says they feel "stuck," "drained," or even depressed, the first thing to look for is the level of inspiration in their life. Where is it missing, how did it get lost, and for how long? People can go years without inspiration. Usually it's because life's demands have triggered old attitudes and hurts which results in situations that take more than they give. This is when people say "this doesn't feel like me" or "this just doesn't feel right for me."

Fortunately, inspiration is something that can be cultivated. For many, an increase in inspiration can be healing and even life-changing. Here are 5 steps to end Inspiration Deficit Disorder and put some spark back in the soul!

1. Look for it. Seek out films, books, people, and stories that might inspire. For example, choose a movie with a story of triumph over adversity instead of cheap thrills. Find people who lead inspired and inspiring lives, and spend time with them. It's contagious!

2. Remember it. Think of a time, place, or person that was inspiring. Tell someone about it or write about it. The energy of that experience can be felt as it is recalled. Ask what can be done today to reconnect with that feeling again.

3. Inspire a vision. Set aside some quiet time to envision the ideal future. Write a vision. If life was truly inspiring one year from now, what would that look like? Inspiration today can result from a dream of a better tomorrow.

4. Give to receive. A great way to become inspired is to try to give it first to others. Help a stranger, coach a team, share expertise in something. It could be baking a cake, fixing a car, or applying for a job.

5. It may look different. Remember, inspiration is a feeling. It can come through things like music, dance, time in nature, and dreams. Pay attention to the feelings first. They are the guide to the next step.

To be inspired is more than just having a great idea, it is having a great idea and the feeling of energy, creativity, and worth that goes with it. To be inspired is more than just being impressed with genius or natural beauty; it is also the feeling of connection and personal relevance that goes with it. It may be found in a strange place or at an unusual time. Instead of questioning it, welcome it in, follow the feeling, and allow the inspiration to be the guide.


About the Author: Dr. Jonathan Ellerby, Spiritual Program Director for the highly acclaimed Canyon Ranch Health Resorts, has a doctoral degree in Comparative Religions and has traveled throughout the world, studying with spiritual teachers from more than 40 cultural traditions. He is the author of a new book published by Hay House, Return to the Sacred: Ancient Pathways to Spiritual Awakening. Dr. Ellerby is also an interfaith minister and leads workshops, retreats, guided travel journeys, and trainings. You can contact Dr. Ellerby at jellerby@canyonranch.com.

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