This is a guest post by Amy Eliza Wong
What drives your actions and decisions? Do you tend to focus more on measuring up to other people’s expectations, or do you make choices based on what feels amazing to you? When posed that way, the answer is a no-brainer. No one would actively align to someone else’s standards at the cost of their own happiness.
But the sad truth is, we often don’t give ourselves the option. We let society, prevailing narratives, friends, and family influence many of our big-life decisions. We listen to others’ perceived judgments:
“Follow your heart? Where’s that going to get you?”
“What on earth will you do with an art history major?”
“Don’t study literature. Go to law school.”
“Quit your job to travel? What?!!!”
But following the advice of others often means we ignore our true impulses and lose touch with our inherent inspiration — our inner guidance. This is the guidance that points us to what we really want, which is a desired feeling state and a way of being in the world.
Without a strong connection to our inherent inspiration, we can end up in pervasive discontent or uncertainty. We’re left pondering:
“Who am I? What am I about? What are my real values?”
“I wish I knew what I wanted in life.”
“I need help figuring out what’s next for me.”
“I wish I knew what I was meant to do in the world.”
Such thoughts tend to be the rule, not the exception. Many of us have learned to tolerate lifelessness as the norm, leaving us unable to pinpoint what we really want for ourselves. We’re trained to analyze, calculate, and strategize the path to our goals. We let ourselves believe that reaching those goals equals happiness, forgetting that what we’re looking for is a state of being. We want the feeling we think the accomplishment will give us. Yet if we numb our ability to attend to what feels right, we get swept up into what sounds right and end up living a life of mediocrity. It’s not our desired life. It’s an idea of what our life should be.
Fulfillment through inspiration
Living our best life starts with getting in touch with how we want to feel, not what we want to achieve. To get in touch with that, we have to know what feeling we’re looking for.
Enter inspiration. Think of inspiration as the doorway to who we really are and what we really want. When we awaken to the white noise that lifelessness has become, and instead begin to honor the life-affirming pulse that transcends rational thought, we find the path that points us towards true fulfillment.
The root word of inspiration, “inspire,” means “to breathe life into, or put life or spirit into the human body.” Inspired thoughts are those energetically expansive thoughts that feel uplifting. Or, at the very least, hopeful. They’re the thoughts that don’t usually emerge from mental processing. They hit you out of the blue. They feel like an all-body knowing delivered with an energizing clarity. In essence, they feel amazing.
Following inspiration leads you to your authentic life of fulfillment — not the one that you’re supposed to live.
Use these tips to tap into your inherent inspiration:
1. Connect to the present.
To feel and allow for inspiration, make it a regular practice to “drop into your body” and rely less on your mind. Become aware of what is by focusing on a single sensation for 10 seconds. It could be that you focus on the ambient sounds in the room. It could be that you notice the feeling of your toes in your shoes. It could be the sensation of your breath coming in and out of your nose. Drop any thoughts about it — no judging, assessing, narrating, or analyzing. Simply be with the sensation. This stops the mental frenzy and opens up your perceptual capacity.
2. Reach for what feels expansive, not constrictive.
Consider any topic you’ve recently been entertaining. Sense what feels expansive, not constrictive, about it. What thoughts give you a warmth and openness in the chest? What feels light and spacious? What sparks deeper breathing? Conversely, what thoughts makes your chest or throat feel tight? What feels heavy or frenzied? What causes shallow breathing? Thoughts that feel expansive and relieving are thoughts aligned with inspiration. Those feelings that light us up are messages telling us that pursuing them will be worth the effort.
3. Take action.
Honor, don’t dismiss, the inspirational “hit.” When inspiration comes knocking at your door, follow it. Never question your inkling or impulse to do something that might appear illogical. That life-giving surge of an idea is your inner GPS to an authentic life of joy and fulfillment. The more you honor and take action on those inspired “hits,” the stronger your connection to the life force guiding you to your best life.
Tapping into your inherent inspiration as a practice frees you from the well-intended but faulty path to lifelessness. If you choose to honestly listen to what you’re feeling in a more present way and commit to acting on the expansive-feeling impulses when they emerge, you’ll be amazed by how life reveals itself to you.
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About the guest post author:
Amy Eliza Wong is a certified executive coach who has devoted more than 20 years to the study and practice of helping others live and lead on purpose. She works with some of the biggest names in tech and teaches transformational leadership and communication strategies to executives and teams around the world. Her new book is Living on Purpose: Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy (BrainTrust Ink, May 24, 2022). Learn more at alwaysonpurpose.com.