What is Inspiration?

Posted on June 24, 2013


I’ve been thinking a lot about emotions recently. I’ve always thought that being inspired was such a great feeling, but wrestled with what it was exactly. I know what it feels like, but I struggled to break it down and really understand it.


What are the conditions that lead to inspiration?

(this is version 0.1 of my answer that I came up with in the shower today, so it’s probably terribly naive)

1) Inspiration requires a challenge that is meaningful (something you feel is worth solving or completing)

2) Inspiration requires an appropriate challenge (you feel there is something you can do to make meaning progress toward the goal)


That’s it really. The more I think about inspiration, this is what it boils down to. Every time I feel inspired it’s because there is something that I care about that I want to work toward where I feel like my talents/ideas can help provide meaningful progress.

I was inspired to write this blog post because I care about exploring emotions (I think they’re incredibly important to everything we do, especially education, work, and relationships), but before this morning, when I thought through these ideas, I wasn’t inspired to write this post. As soon as I came up with a way to make some progress toward the goal of understanding emotions more effectively, I was immediately inspired to write this post.


So how do you inspire others? It may be as simple (or as difficult) as accomplishing these two goals:

1) Convince them that the goal is worth caring about.

2) Give them a way to make meaningful progress toward that goal that is neither too easy or too hard for them to accomplish.


I find it interesting that both of these factors play an important role in “flow“. In order to get in to flow you need to be making progress (via quality feedback loops) toward a clear goal that you care about. It’s as if flow and inspiration are deeply connected emotions…



Posted in: Motivation, Thoughts