- If you can dream it, you can do it.
- —WALT DISNEY
I am a firm believer that inspiration can be found almost anywhere if you are open to new ideas. Because of this, I try to expose myself to as many different experiences as I can. And anything that I see that catches my attention, sparks my imagination, or triggers a visceral emotive experience, I record in an idea bank for later reference.
Ever since I can remember, I have kept a journal (in fact, several at one time) to collect and store ideas. I’m an avid reader and books are one of my favorite sources of inspiration. I jot down words that I don’t know and look up their definitions, and I keep track of quotes, notes, descriptions of places and people, lyrics, anything that triggers a visual that I feel is worth remembering. I don’t know when I might use it, but I don’t want to lose it. I keep a pencil and paper next to the bed at night so that when I have that artistic insight I can write it down so that I will remember it in the morning. I relish knowing that I have diaries of inspiring references that I can return to at any time.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
To make work that tells a compelling story, we need to look closely at the things that surround us, which can be very difficult to do when we’re merely going through the motions of our lives. Habits in and of themselves are not bad, but we need to avoiding the mind-numbing routines that form when we set our lives on auto-pilot. I try to constantly push myself to break out of the comfortable cocoon that I find I am predisposed to spin around myself. If I’m not paying attention, I will drive to work by the same roads, eat the same foods, and solve problems in the same way, time after time. Instead, open yourself to new experiences—explore a new neighborhood, try a new food, play a new sport. Try to do something new every day. Challenge yourself to constantly evolve.
Learn how to do something unique every year. Be a beginner and ask questions. Flip on your “learning switch” to expand your mind in new directions. Keep your brain exercised. Take an active part in the world. Be a creator as often as possible; don’t be satisfied with merely being a bystander. Do interesting things, and chances are you will become a more interesting person. It’s far more gratifying to generate your own content and tell your own stories than it is to simply watch and consume other people’s take on life.
Visit other places; seek out other cultures. Traveling is one of the easiest ways to alter your consciousness. Changing your environment can instantly expose you to different customs, divergent architecture, distinctive fashion, and diverse behaviors. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” These predetermined views prevent us from exploring things. Trying to understand other people’s point of view and seeing the world through their eyes can help us overcome some of our own fears. Don’t fight it. Open yourself up to others’ ideas and ways of life. Don’t judge; just be a part of it. Be in the moment and experience the situation, and see where it takes you.