Matt Hersh, PhD

Dr. Matt Hersh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a specialization in child and family clinical psychology. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a private practice in the Boston area.

Intention. Inspiration. How often do you use these words at work or at home with family or friends? Do you have a good sense of what they really mean and how they operate in your life to facilitate lasting happiness?

A while back I heard an interview with Dr. Joe Vitale, a contemporary self-growth guide to the masses. (Apparently he was homeless and completely destitute for a decade before realizing his full potential). Vitale spoke about intention, the act of consciously and purposefully directing your will and attention toward something you are trying to accomplish or see expressed in your life. Intention can also involve dialectical (both/and) properties such as gentle but also firm, open yet resolute. Vitale noted how he always looks to the act of being intentional to help himself and others create the life they truly want.

But he said something else that was equally as poignant and powerful.

He spoke about inspiration.

Inspiration is a lauded idea but an often dismissed action.

According to Collins dictionary, inspiration is a feeling of enthusiasm one gets (from someone or something) that generates new and creative ideas.

But it’s hard to be truly inspired by something and then act consistently in accordance with that internal experience.

“Oh wow! That’s so inspirational!” we might say when watching an artist paint something incredible. Or witnessing an athlete or scientist display their prowess on the field or in the laboratory.

These feelings of inspiration might very well be fleeting as we witness such amazing talent. But then, for most of us, it’s back to the grind, and the autopilot mode of life takes over.

Can you think of a time in your life when you’ve been inspired by something that mattered to you, and it really moved the needle? You really began to shift your mindset, your behaviors, and even your lifestyle?

For Vitale, to be inspired just for the sake of it may regrettably leave certain vital energies dormant, even though the hedonic positive feelings we might feel from being inspired actually feel good for a little while.

He is a big supporter of inspiration because it has the potential to actually motivate the soul toward expansiveness and greatness. (Yes, I’m a clinical psychologist, and I just said “motivate the soul.” 😉)

When we get inspiration from various sources (our own emotional and motivational depths, repeatedly strong feelings about something, a mentor, watching a good deed, experiencing beauty or love, etc.), we can (re)awaken a dormant aspirations to act in certain ways: to be a better person, to innovate, to offer true compassion to others, or to contribute to the world with unconditional love and integrity, to name but a few vital qualities.

Vitale argues that the art of intention can then be invoked to harness the inspiration we might feel. We look to intentionality to…well…intentionally bring about our inspirations.

So how do we use this information in practical ways?

1. Actually look for inspiration in your life

Instead of constantly looking for what’s going wrong and what needs to be “fixed”, we can orient toward what can fuel us or bring about a neglected vitality and ignite our passions.

Q: But you might ask “where do I find this inspiration?”

A: Anywhere and everywhere. It could be in two puppies playfully jumping up to get a treat from their “owner”. This is currently happening as I write this post. 🙂 It could be watching a YouTube video clip with your child about the most Brilliant Kid Inventions. When you are in awe of these things, you naturally ignite passions for other things you want from life

2. Don’t ignore the feelings of inspiration

Often times we let these feelings pass over us or pass by us. Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist, Buddhist practitioner, and positive psych guru calls this “Taking in the Good.” We have to let ourselves linger in these feelings. Let them wash over us and see what they bring about in us. But watch out for the overly cynical voice in your head that says, “This is just childish or stupid.”

3. Bring intention to your inspiration

See if you can harness this newly found inspiration with an intention to act in a different way, see things differently, set yourself on a different course for your life (or some small but significant aspect of your life). It doesn’t have to be big at all. It just has to be done.

Good luck turning your inspirations into intention for some potentially life changing stuff!

Drop a comment below to let the community know what inspires you and how you intend to manifest that in your life.

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