10 Classic Ways to Get Inspired

Last Updated Mar 22, 2010 5:55 PM EDT

Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon National ParkEver wonder what your brain is doing most of the time? Me neither. But I'm pretty sure it's either observing, remembering, or associating one with the other. Sometimes it's actually reasoning or trying to solve a problem, although in my case that probably happens less often than it should.

In any case, once in a great while you get that rare flash of insight that completely changes the way you look at a problem. In my experience, certain environmental conditions are highly conducive to inspiration, while other conditions can squelch neurological activity more effectively than seven or eight margaritas.

I don't know why, but I got to wondering if the same conditions that work for me also work for you and everyone else. Well, there's only one way to find out. Here are one blogger's ...

10 Ways to Get Inspired

  1. Drugs. No, not that kind of drugs. We're talking coffee or tea in the daytime and wine at night. Just one or two. More than that and it has the opposite effect. Also the act of having something, anything to drink seems to make a difference.
  2. Nature view. Not to be confused with being in nature, which always makes me wonder if ants are crawling on me or I'm sitting in pine sap, which is usually the case. I'm talking about a nice, long view of trees, mountains, or water of some sort.
  3. After mental or physical stress. When you come down from mental or physical stress, your blood vessels either constrict or dilate, I'm not sure which. Whichever, it leaves me open to abstract thoughts and new ideas.
  4. Not when I'm whitening my teeth. Or otherwise being bugged by anything physical or mental that's not supposed to be there, like whitening trays and toxic chemicals in my mouth.
  5. When I'm half asleep. It happens a lot. I'm not even aware that I'm thinking about a problem when a unique solution just pops into my head. The same goes for the morning shower ... sorry about the visual.
  6. Conversing with a like-minded individual. The smarter and more involved in the subject, the better. It could be anywhere, in a hallway conversation or on a bullet train in Japan.
  7. Zero human or electronic distractions. I prefer relative quiet although white noise, like a fountain or the ocean, is great. Some types of music in the background are sometimes okay, but nothing else manmade.
  8. Brainstorming offsite with a management team. It does depend on who's running the session, how it's being run, the individuals involved, and what's going on at the company, but it generally works for me.
  9. Not at work or in a cubicle. I don't think I've ever come up with a single inspired concept or brainstorm alone in my office - certainly not in a cubicle - at work. The office at home is fine, probably because it fits some of the other criteria (view, distractions).
Wait a minute, that's only nine. Hmm. Sorry, can't find the inspiration for the tenth. An associate says things come to her when she's driving. All I know is she's always late meeting me because she misses highway exits. Maybe she should get a ticket for Driving While Inspired (DWI).

So, how do you find inspiration, and are any of your environmental conditions consistent with any of mine?

Image of Inspiration Point - Bryce Canyon National Park by Zaui CC 2.0