Animenz – a classically trained anime pianist

In life, we may come across a myriad of experiences that inspire us. It may be a poignant story in a movie, a mind-blowing book, or even a heart-wrenching piece of music. It may be a breath-taking marvel of nature, an individual’s noble actions in a situation, or even a blog that you follow. In some enigmatic way, these characters, moments, and people lead to a shift in our perception of the world, of which our psyche bubbles with new possibilities. In and of itself, inspiration cannot be a bad thing – I don’t think we’ve ever heard of someone being too inspired. 99% of the time, however, it is more so that we feel a pervading apathy from the monotony of daily living.

A brilliant article titled “Why Inspiration Matters” by Scott Barry Kaufman in the Harvard Business Review describes inspiration in this way:

In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities. Inspiration may sometimes be overlooked because of its elusive nature. Its history of being treated as supernatural or divine hasn’t helped the situation. But as recent research shows, inspiration can be activated, captured, and manipulated, and it has a major effect on important life outcomes.

Scott Barry Kaufman

Inspiration, though mysterious, is very much an organic process. We can’t rush inspiration or hurriedly seek to will it. Rather, Inspiration happens to us. Nuggets of inspiration can be found in the most unexpected nooks and crannies of everyday life.

Though we cannot actively will inspiration on ourselves, we can design an environment in which we can allow inspiration to grow. Much like how Japanese farmers can engineer the best conditions for growing the most pristine fruits or designing the best net to catch fish in the wide ocean of possibility. This requires an open mind – a mind open to fresh experiences. A mind that is not exhausted, but well-rested. A mind that is humble and willing to change.

It is through these bouts of inspiration of which I’ve felt most alive. In understanding its potency, let us strive to catch these moments when they do arrive, as well as to facilitate these moments in others. By doing so, hopefully, the world may ever so slightly be a brighter place.