At last night’s Golden Globe Awards, Steven Spielberg spoke eloquently about the need to nurture inspiration and not make decisions based on what’s easy or popular. I don’t hear people talking about that much. No wonder inspiration is dismissed or ignored.

For a long time, I thought motivation and inspiration were two words describing the same thing. I no longer think that. As I see it, motivation is a force that generates action because of the consequences if we don’t. Motivation may or may not have anything to do with genuine passion or enthusiasm. In fact, many people who call themselves motivational speakers imply that motivation is a highly emotional state the we must whip ourselves into—or be branded losers. To be motivated often involves talking ourselves into doing something because we should or must. 

Inspiration, on the other hand, is a call to creative action. We act because we want to, not because we have to. 

The dictionary defines it this way:

arousal of the mind to special activity or creativity

a product of your creative thinking and work

a sudden intuition as part of solving a problem

inhalation: the act of inhaling; the drawing in of air as in breathing 

Although it’s somewhat difficult to describe the state of inspiration, most of us recognize it when we’re experiencing it. When we are inspired, we glimpse new possiblities. Continual inspiration is a reward for paying attention.

The results of living our lives and running our businesses from this state are enormous. Quite simply inspiration always leads us to be more and do more. When we’re inspired we feel more brilliant, creative, loving, alive, authentic. Not only do we accomplish more, but we do so with greater ease. It’s hard to feel inspired and complain. 

Happily, inspiration isn’t just for artists. It also doesn’t have to be random or rare. You do, however, have to know what turns yours on. As James Ball reminds us, “An uninspired mind is a handicap we can all do something about.” This week we’ll explore ways to do just that.

$100 Hour: Share what you know. Last spring, an article in the NY Times called Making Money the How-to Way caught my eye. They spotlighted Metacafe and showed how all sorts of people are creating how-to videos and a nifty profit center.

Explore More: Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary by Bill Strickland. One of the best books ever about inspiration in action.

Pay a visit to Inspiration Station for ideas on creating your own Inspiration Station.

The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. ~ Jack Welch

Look up from the computer you’re reading this on. What do you see? Reminders of places that inspire you? Books worth rereading? Does it matter?

You probably know what I think the answer is to that last question—and I’m not alone in thinking that it matters a great deal. In 1883 Claude Monet moved his family to Giverny. It remained his home for forty-three years until his death. Monet spent exactly one-half of his life living this place which became a daily source of inspiration for his life and painting.

No detail was too insignificant for Monet. Not only did he oversee the planning and installation of the gardens, he was equally involved in creating a beautiful home for his family, insisting that meals be a regular source of pleasure. While Monet’s talent flourished in this beautiful environment, he also became a skillful entrepreneur marketing his work with the same imagination which he applied to his painting and his personal life.

Would Monet have become such a successful artist without Giverny? We can only guess at the answer. One thing is certain: Monet intentionally found inspiration right outside of his door. 

Most of us will never live in as magical a place as Giverny, but we can set up our lives in such a way that inspiration is a daily, on-going event. First we must be brave enough to surround ourselves with those things, thoughts and people that lift us up. And we need to do it over and over again. After all, inspiration isn’t a vaccination. If you want to go beyond the ordinary, begin by bringing as much inspiration as possible into your world.

$100 Hour Idea: Welcome paying guests. Ever since I discovered At Home in London, I have given up hotels and stayed in private homes when I visit that favorite city. If you’re an empty-nester, why not turn the space into a profit center from time to time? A woman who lived near a college, frequently hosted visiting artists and professors in her home. Not only did she create a nice profit center, she met fascinating people from all over the world. She also loved the flexibility of opening her casual b & b when it was convenient. 

Explore More:  Alison Marks is the creative spirit behind Inside Out Design Coaching in San Francisco. Besides doing coaching, organizing and feng shui consultations in her area, she also offers teleclasses and lots of information through her Website and Dwell Well ezine. Read her 10 Things You Can Do to Turn Your Home Into a Haven.It’s full of great tips.

A strong imagination begets opportunity. ~ Michel de Montaigne