Getting Inspired

road view

Yesterday, as I returned home from a meeting of the National Speakers Association, Ohio Chapter (a great meeting and great organization by the way), I was thinking of times when I get particularly inspired to come up with good ideas. Generally, the two major times when ideas come to me are:

1. During Catholic Mass

2. While running (particularly outside)

Let me explain a little bit about each. When I first thought about having great ideas during Mass, I thought “I hope this doesn’t mean my mind is wandering too much during worship.” I then realized that my mind doesn’t really wander too much. In fact, the ideas usually come during the times in the Mass reserved for quiet reflection. I am guessing this shows that I really am paying attention (sometimes I admit my mind can wander…I am human after all).

Typically my best ideas come when running, mostly when running outside. I think my running ritual creates a great opportunity for thinking. First, running relaxes me and loosens me up, physically and mentally. Second, I love being outdoors, so when I run outside, I am immediately in a good mood, and receiving the mental benefits of sunshine and fresh air. Third, since I usually run close to 4-6 miles at a time, I am sure I am getting some sort of “runner’s high” by the middle of my run. Fourth, I typically take some Acetyl L-Carnitine or DMAE before running, which enhances my mental clarity. Finally, I often run alone; this gives me that rare time to just gather my thoughts. All of these factors make running both physically and mentally enjoyable.

Now, let me explain what doesn’t usually inspire me. I am not usually inspired by quotes or gimmicks. You know, the type of stuff that gets you excited and makes you go “ah ha” on Monday, but doesn’t really impact you anymore by Friday. I know that many public speakers and inspirational speakers thrive on this sort of thing, as does the average American. A lot of people have quote-a-day calendars that they glance at every day. I have tried that and usually by February my calendar is still on January 10th. I do like inspirational quotes, but they don’t have much lasting power in my life. I tend to be inspired by content, rather than inspired by inspiration. Friends and life, just as they are, tend to inspire me as well. Also, a very good movie or song can inspire me in lasting ways, especially if the story reminds me of my own story. Well, that’s just me! I am sure that most of you are different, and that is cool too.