How to climb out of quicksand

With each passing day, humans are making incredible strides in art, science, medicine, technology, entertainment – in fact in any area you choose to mention. Yet at the same time we’re getting sicker, tireder and more miserable by the minute. How can this be?

I believe part of the reason is that our daily lives lack inspiration.
What is inspiration? And what purpose does it serve?

Inspiration is the state of being stimulated or moved to take creative or meaningful action. Feeling inspired means feeling energised, excited and courageous. Inspiration empowers us to reach beyond our perceived limitations to make a positive difference to our lives and to the lives of others.

Yet most of us are so caught up in the daily grind that we feel we have no time to seek out inspiring experiences or even to reflect on what that would mean. It’s a catch-22. When I get through my to-do list, THEN I might have time to do something that inspires me. But as soon as I cross something off my to-do list, something else immediately takes its place. My to-do list operates like quicksand – sucking me down no matter how much I scramble to escape. In reality, incessant busy-ness is a state of mind. It’s a habit of thinking and it’s addictive – and it’s a habit I’ve also acquired.

So I decided to break the habit by doing something to throw me out of my routine. I entered TEDxSydney’s Fast Ideas competition. The goal is to present a big idea in just 30 seconds. Anyone who knows me is aware that brevity is not my strong point. I struggle to present an idea in 30 minutes let alone 30 seconds. So this was going to be a major challenge.

To my amazement, I have been selected as one of 7 finalists to present their 30 second idea this Friday 16th June at the International Convention Centre Sydney.

TED (which stands for Technology Entertainment Design but has come to incorporate every field of human endeavour) is a worldwide community dedicated to sharing ‘ideas worth spreading’. There are TED conferences all over the world and you can watch the talks online for free. Visit or specifically for the Sydney event:

Watching TED talks have been a wonderful way of infusing inspiration into my life. And the difference this has made is profound.

Inspiration changes how we feel, how we think and how much energy and creativity we bring to what we do. When I’m tired and uninspired I approach my to-do list with dread. When I’m feeling inspired and excited (regardless of what brought on the excitement), I power through even the most mundane of tasks. I relish challenges and view them as a mental workout.

So – in addition to watching TED talks – how can we get inspired, excited and energised?

The answer is embedded in the meaning of the word ‘inspiration’.

In medicine, inspiration means ‘the drawing in of breath’. In order to feel inspired we need to pause, take a breath and bring ourselves into the present moment. Only then do we give ourselves the chance to notice the lavender bush in full bloom and the pleasure of eating home-grown passion fruit.

We are surrounded by opportunities to inject inspiration into our daily lives. What makes you feel inspired? Listening to a special piece of music? Reading historical novels? Ringing a particular friend? Engaging in a hobby? Meditating? Spending time in nature? Composing poetry?

Whatever it is, do it! Feeling inspired makes a to-do list seem much less daunting and I guarantee you’ll get through it more easily and efficiently.

And if you’re short on ideas, let TED inspire you.

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