Inspiration vs. Motivation

Inspiration and motivation – I have thought these were the same and not bothered to interrogate my own understandings of their inherent nature and what they truly mean. This is odd for me – I’m usually a “word” person (read: grammar geek) and I like to know the subtle differences between words and when it is more appropriate to use one over another. But I have never thought deeply about this pair of words, together or separate. Besides, everyone knows what they mean – they are everyday words. I know that sometimes they are used as synonyms for each other, but I still haven’t defined or delineated them well. That is, until I read the start of a great post by Nerd Fitness. (Yes, it’s nerdy; it’s also got some great writing and *inspirational* stories!) In essence, my take home message was this:

Be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality. {tweet me}

Let’s go back to definitions, though, and get a foundation from which to build our understandings.

in·spi·ra·tion  n.
1a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
1b. The condition of being so stimulated.

mo·ti·va·tion n.
1a. The act or process of motivating.
1b. The state of being motivated.
2. Something that provides an inducement or incentive.

When I look at these words in the cold light of a dictionary, they are starkly different: one is about personal enjoyment and engagement without seeking a reward or benefit; the other is about a reward or a lure to make someone do something. Wow. Just think about that.

One is from an intrinsic internal place; the other is external and requires something tempting. Black and white. Open and closed. On and off. Opposites.

Questions: Why do we so often interchange these words or not recognize the differences that are inherent in their meanings? Have we become so desensitized by the media, the pack mentality, the global grab that we cannot distinguish between these two anymore? Or is it just me?

The difference between these concepts is astounding. Going back to my take home message from Nerd Fitness’s post – be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality – I didn’t realize it at the time, but at a subconscious level I understood. Now, it’s time for me to raise my awareness to a conscious level. Two questions (from Nerd Fitness) prompted my own introspection and interrogation:

What drives me daily to be better?

  • My desire to have my dream life that I have built inside my head based on others’ dreams and perceptions of “happiness”: buying a home, having a family, being stable, being “fit”, being “successful”, being “happy”.

From where do you get your inspiration?

  • My friends and my family: they have all had their own struggles and weaknesses (as we all do, sometimes even more), but they have never let those negatives stop them. They continue to achieve, continue to dream, continue to do. I admire every one of my family and friends; they are amazing people. (Yes, I am *that* lucky!)

What about you? What drives you every day to be better? Where is your inspiration? Share with us in the comments below~

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(not atypical) conversation with myself

Swan in Ireland 2003Me 1: So, how do you feel today?
Me 2: I don’t know – I had a good day and yet a feel a bit down because it’s not quite going as planned. I don’t know why – I want to let it flow but I also want to push it.
Me 1: Just let it flow – they are the ones who will lose out if they say no. You know better than to push it. Look at what happened on Friday! And now how is that affecting what happened today?
Me 2: I know, I know. I know better; I really do. You know I just to get it all organized! But I know I need some patience.
Me 1: So, did you notice the sky today? And how the clouds were playing with each other?
Me 2: I did – actually, I wanted to lay down on the grass outside and just watch them float by. But, as you know, we were busy, and now it’s night and all we can see are the millions of stars.
Me 1: That’s right! You need to go outside and look at the stars and remember how amazing this planet is and how amazing it is that we are alive.
Me 2: Yeah, I should. But my eyes are tired tonight. They are sore and I think it’s because I used a different cream on them.
Me 1: I know – and you know better. This has happened before but you didn’t take notice. Now you can’t finish the work that you need to do. Look at yourself – you’re squinting at the screen as you write this!
Me 2: Argh! How do you know me so well? How can you see what I’m doing and know what I shouldn’t be doing?
Me 1: Because we are the same. You know this. We are just two voices in the same mind having a conversation. We are like two sides of the same coin, you and me.
Me 2: I know, but sometimes I feel like I’m the poor cousin to you – you know the “better” ways and the “better” ideas and all that. I’m the complaining one; the silly one; the selfish, self-centred one. It’s awkward sometimes…
Me 1: We are the same; we have one heart, one mind, one body, one soul. We are just different views of the one being.
Me 2: But it’s hard to accept – it feels like we are different people at times. Kind of schizophrenic or something. Maybe we need to stop playing this game of “same same but different” and just join forces so we can rock this world.
Me 1: I agree! Joining forces would be the best – then we will be in sync more and not feel so torn. 🙂

*insert loving hug here*