I recently saw a news report that William Shatner, who played Capt. James T Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series that piloted in 1966 was planning to go into outer space. He is 90 years old and will be the oldest person ever to do this. I was inspired by him. He is not letting his age get in the way of doing exciting things. He gave me hope that just because I am getting older doesn’t mean I have to stop challenging myself to do interesting things.
I got to thinking about the concept of inspiration. What is it? Miriam Webster dictionary gave many synonyms: breathtaking, electrifying, exciting, galvanizing, stimulating, stirring and thrilling. I would add motivating to this list. When we are inspired, we often are motivated to make important changes in our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors to increase the ways we give to others and care for each other.
In this era of so many stresses, losses and fears, I think it is important to take time to reflect on who and what is inspiring us and is increasing our sense of the goodness of humanity despite all the negativity in the world.
Steve Hartman, a reporter for CBS This Moring and other CBS News broadcasts is known for bringing unique and touching real life stores to the big screen. For example, this story of a woman who decided to bring meals to the workers touched me deeply and made me feel grateful for what she was doing to bring comfort and sustenance to these hard workers. Her story inspired an outpouring of contributions and offers to help because people were so inspired by her.
My daughter Sandra is inspiring hundreds of girls and young women to embrace whatever their body shape and size is and to see the beauty of who they are even if they don’t match some of the stereotypes for what constitutes beauty in a female. She started her own nonprofit organization called United and TRU (which stands for Transformed, Redeemed, Unique). By her own admission she felt like she was in over her head having had virtually no experience in starting an organization, but she pushed forward and found people who helped her along the way. Not only is she inspiring those who come to her events, she is inspiring because she is taking chances and putting trust in God to guide her.
We are inspired by acts of bravery as often is reported in wartime situations or other times when lives are in danger. We are inspired by people who go over and above expectations with their jobs, as is the case with many teachers who dig into their own pockets to provide supplies for their students. We are inspired when we hear beautiful music that touches our hearts and increases our sense of faith or patriotism appreciating that someone put words and music to beautiful thoughts and beliefs. We are inspired when someone chooses to let another person win a race or succeed on a playing field even though another could easily overtake them. Inspiration is all around us if we just take the time to notice it.
Being inspired by someone can motivate us to find our own courage to imitate them. When we are inspired, we can become more altruistic, feeling the satisfaction that comes from knowing we are making a difference in the life of a fellow human being. When we are inspired, we have a sense of increased hopefulness in the moral integrity of our fellow human beings. Being inspired has the power to touch that inner part of ourselves that wants to contribute to the well-being of others. We can share with children and grandchildren the stories of people who have been courageous or caring or willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of others. Following through on what inspires us can also give us a sense of purpose, helping us appreciate that there is meaning in life and that meaning often involves finding ways to care for others.
Consider who and what inspires you and why they are inspirational. Consider ways you might be inspirational to others, inspiring them to do those things that promote the best in others. The opportunities are there if we choose to take them.
Invitation for Reflection:
Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute