Showing posts with label experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experience. Show all posts

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Can You Feel the Inspiration?

How often have you heard a song playing on the radio, watched a favorite movie, or been part of a conversation where the subject matter was so familiar, so woven into your memory that it transported you to a positive, pleasant, and comforting place in your mind? Do you find solace there? Do you feel waves of nostalgia and happiness wash over you? I do.

I'll give you a couple of examples to illustrate my point. While in college, my roommates and I (who are still good friends) would watch Braveheart and Independence Day repeatedly. I'd say almost everyday, one or the other movie was always on whenever any of us walked into our dorm room. It got to the point where we could all recite the dialogue ad nauseam. 

Obviously one of the most famous scenes in the movie Braveheart:

ID4- one of my favorite lines in the movie. 

Another example is the song Take On Me, by A-ha. Okay I'm aging myself here but this one is a classic. As MTV began to emerge as a musical powerhouse (long before they abandoned videos for trashy reality TV), I'd watch with amazement and thoroughly enjoyed A-ha's video blend of live action and animation (I also had a school boy crush on the girl in the video). 
A-ha's video, Take On Me:

My last example is Rob Dougan's Clubbed to Death, the Kurayamino Variation

While I was writing my novel, everyday before I put pen to paper, I would listen to the entire seven minutes of this musical masterpiece. It got to the point where anytime I heard even a snippet of this tune, I was ready to write (almost Pavlovian you might say). 

All of these examples or triggers you might call them, elicit an emotional response of positivity that allows me to tap into my creative side. Now I deliberately focus on the positive here because I believe you gain more by positive motivation rather than negative. I'll admit negativity is powerful and it can elicit tremendous feelings that can be utilized for creative purposes. I would warn you, though, that negativity has a tendency to distract and divert more than it does to motivate. 

Now you might have a knee jerk reaction of "I don't have anything like those triggers to draw upon". Perhaps, but if you gave it enough thought I believe you could find a wealth of positive triggers to use. Remember, it doesn't have to be a song or a movie, it could be a poem, a painting, a play, perhaps a joke or limerick  or even a dance or gesture. In fact there is quite a bit of research to show the sense of smell is the strongest sense in recalling past emotions.

So why do I bring all this up? Well one of the first lessons I learned studying to be a writer is 'write what you know.' I believe everyone's life contains volumes of stories - adventures just waiting to find expression. Friends and classmates would ask me 'where do you get your story ideas?' To me the answer is simple: my life, my experiences and my emotions, it's what I know. And it's a great place to start. Your life experiences are a great resource to find motivation and inspiration for future endeavors, because you experienced them. Who better to tell us about them than you? You see, it doesn't have to be through a written story, it can be through a painting, a sculpture, interactions, a hobby. Building new experiences upon positive older ones can and many times does create a positive loop you can use to improve your perspective, disposition, and outlook. 

As a writer I hope when someone reads my work they'll have the same positive reaction I do to my triggers. You might work in a different medium, but if you can reach your audience in a similar manner, well, to me that's an incredibly moving inspiration story. 

Thanks for reading. 
Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can You Ask For Help If You Need It?

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  ~AnneFrank

I really hate asking for help. I’ve always been one to figure things out on my own, charge through the glut and muck to come to an understanding. For the most part, that’s the way I learn. Sometimes, I’ll have to go over something a hundred times (like Algebra) before it sinks into my math-averse brain. Applying myself and employing my own brain cells to solve a problem or figure out a process gives me a sense of personal accomplishment that makes me feel capable. However, there are times when it is most advantageous and prudent to ask for help, to request a helping hand to get you through a difficult situation. There’s no shame in that. Sometimes, pride or stubbornness get in the way and just makes things really messy.

There have been times where I didn’t ask for help, initially, and wound up totally stuck. Case in point: One time when I was 17 I was working on my old beat up jalopy of a car. It was an ancient Monte Carlo, a rusted out, oil burning, hideous mess of a car, but it was mine. I tried to install brake pads on the back. And if any of you ever attempted to change old style drum brakes, you know the mess you can get into pretty quick if you don’t know what you’re doing. Anyway, I tried for about two hours to figure it out. Frustration mounted until I felt like my head would explode. I broke down, asked my dad to help, and within ten minutes, the brakes were together and working perfectly.

Now that I’m older, I understand the value of asking questions, and seeking out help when the time calls for it. I still don’t like it, but I’ve put aside my stubbornness and pride. I realized that learning doesn’t have to come just from my own experiences. Learning from others’ experience and life knowledge is an excellent way to increase your own capabilities and understandings. The self-improvement we all need and yearn for (even if we won’t admit it) starts with expanding our minds and opening ourselves up to new possibilities. Anne Frank was right; you don’t have to wait a single moment to make things better, starting with you. No one lives life completely alone, so no one should ever try to learn everything completely alone either.  

Someone out there has experienced something similar to your situation, whatever it is. With seven billion people on the planet, I’m confident in saying that. It is not a waste of time to employ others’ knowledge and experience to make your own a more positive one; it will be an investment. That investment will pay dividends. Ultimately the difference will be a better life. And a better life is what we all should strive for.

Go ahead, ask for help. Trust me, it won’t hurt and you might just learn something.

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Does it Mean to Get Ahead?

“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves” – William Penn

Life is about quality experiences and honorable achievements you work towards.

Life is not about getting ahead of everyone else. Life is not about accumulating every attention-getting trinket in existence. Life is not about comparing yourself to others as if they are the official measuring stick of accomplishment. Granted, I’m being completely subjective here. I know to others life might very well be solely about acquisition of power, wealth, fame, stuff; who knows. I’m sure having ultimate power might be cool, for a while; being able to buy whatever my heart desires would fulfill my wants, for a while; having people adore me and fawn all over me might be gratifying and feed my ego, for a while. 

But I’ve observed that a lot of times people compare their status with others (usually ones ahead of them) and feel as if they are not as successful or accomplished as they should be; then they lose sight of what they have in favor of what they might be able to attain. So they persist in their drive to acquire more and more, never really appreciating what they have now. This ladies and gentlemen is what is called the rat race.

My suggestion is to never start running that race, because once you do, you immediately lose. Striving to be successful is an admirable goal; one I agree with and continually work for. However, I’ve learned to follow an ideal of what my future successful self looks like, but only compare myself to where I have been and what I have achieved in the past. You see an ideal is just that; an ideal, it is not real and most of the time it’s not attainable in a realistic sense. Think of how you structure your future self’s image. Is it perfect? Maybe not but it’s probably idealistically constructed, meaning ‘if things were perfect’ played a small part in its creation, even if you weren’t consciously aware of it. So striving toward that ideal gives you focus and a goal, which is good. Comparing yourself to the past and what actually was keeps you grounded, examining real world facts.

It is unfortunately very easy to fall into the trap of thinking things like “Everyone has so much more than me,” “I’m never going to have as much as that guy,” or “I’m never going to make it.” That’s jealously talking there. In the grand spectrum of success, there will always be those ahead, and behind you. This is a fact. Worrying so much about what other people have accomplished and comparing yourself only to those that are more successful will ultimately lead to you feeling like a failure. Now it’s okay to model your actions after successful people (they’re a success for a reason); any other comparisons on success is just shortchanging yourself.

I once fell into that trap. I’d look at all the successful authors out there and lament that they succeeded where I still failed. I saw their body of published works and compared that to my unpublished writing. And I was miserable. What I failed to look at was just how much more I wrote in the last two years compared to the eight years preceding them. In the last two years I’ve written a weekly blog entry almost every week, I’ve written a Novel, and two short stories. The previous eight years I wrote only a fraction of that. So in comparison to myself the last two years have been a resounding success. And I gained fulfillment from those valuable and rewarding writing experiences. Sure I’m not published yet, but I’m light years ahead of where I was. The key there is me, not those published authors. My being jealous of them served no purpose except to make me feel like crap. So I changed my perspective. And guess what? I changed my life, yet again.  

You can do it too. I dare you. 

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do You Need Recognition?

How much have you accomplished in your life? Is it a lot or just a little? Are you satisfied with the things you have done or do you feel the need to excel, to strive, and continue onward? For me, life is an ever expanding opportunity to experience more and attempt new things. I'm still working on finishing my novel. I've got one chapter to go for a completed draft and I can tell you I'm a much better writer for the attempt. For the most part, I don’t need others’ approval or blessing when attempting something new; I’m not overly concerned with their praise or validation either. However, I would admit that a bit of recognition once in a while is really important, dare I say needed. Now I’m not waiting around for people to stop me on the street and point their finger at me and scream like I’m some kind of rock star, or have to paparazzi chase me down for a quick snap shot. It is nice though, to be appreciated and know your efforts are at least worth someone taking note.

But how much do you need to be lauded, praised and applauded? Do you need it at all? With so many people in the world, it’s almost impossible to not get lost in the crowd. The law of averages almost assures that most of us will be the anonymous majority, but that doesn’t mean you have to be average, or mediocre. You can always strive to be your best and make a lasting impact, even if it’s only toward the ones you love. But mediocrity, don’t let it overshadow who you are. It reminds me of the last scene from the movie Amadeus. Salieri laments that he is nothing compared to Mozart and that fact drove him mad.

Salieri’s obsession with things he had no control over became too much. His fatal flaw lay in the fact that he constantly compared himself to Mozart, instead of measuring is own abilities and talents against himself. There’s a danger in wanting recognition, and that danger is the fact that comparisons will always be drawn to competitors, peers, contemporaries, etc. In my view, that’s a trap. So don’t get caught in it. Only compare yourself with yourself and always try to improve on the previous version. You might just keep your sanity. At the very least you’ll know where you’ve been and how much you have improved.

Can you think of a specific time you got lost in competition with others? Was it worth it?

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Closely linked to Creativity is the Inspiration necessary to create.  I've often wondered 'where' Inspiration comes from.  To be totally honest, Inspiration comes from everywhere, anywhere and nowhere.  At first this may seem like a cryptic and convoluted non-answer, but bear with me.  Life is really just a person's perspective.  It's the sum of all their experiences, knowledge, intellect, hopes, dreams, fears and relationships, to both others and their environment.  People see life through their own perspective, not Bob's, or Jim's, or Sally's.  If one were to remain isolated in their comfort zone, that comfort zone would shrink and they would be less and less likely to try new things, keep an open mind about different perspectives and generally become closed off.

This is where inspiration does NOT live.  Inspiration is closely linked to experience, variation and  emotional variance.  If you become exposed to more and more things, your understanding increases and the ability to see things from differing points of view grows.  The possibilities of 'what if' become stronger and it leads you to think in new ways.  Once the power of 'new' takes hold, Inspiration becomes easier.  All of the things in your life now take on the possibility of inspiring a new thought or idea, dream or scheme.

Try this:  Go into a room you have been in many times.  Look around.  If it all looks the same change your perspective.  Stand on the chair and look down.  Climb up on the counter and look around (please be careful).  It's the same room, but you're looking at it from a totally different and probably new perspective.  You changed your perspective of that room and your view of it changed too.  Keep that feeling alive and inspiration will come.

I believe in you.  It can happen.  Just change your perspective.

Thanks for reading.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...