What Does Inspiration Mean?

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Here at keepinspiring.me, it’s our job to inspire, motivate, and instill a deep burning passion within you to do better and be better. And one of the most frequent questions we get is: What is the meaning of inspiration?

Well, we’ve thought it over and have come up with an answer to help you discover what inspiration means to you.

Definition of Inspiration

Now, if you Google “definition of inspiration,” some dictionary sites will give you something like this:

  • “The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative.” Source: Oxforddictionaries.com
  • “A feeling of enthusiasm you get from someone or something, which gives you new and creative ideas.” Source: Collinsdictionary.com
  • “An inspiring or animating action or influence.” Source: Dictionary.com
  • “A divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.” Source: Merriam-Webster.com
  • “The excitement of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.” Source: Thefreedictionary.com

Here at Keepinspiring.me, we define inspiration as follows: Inspiration is when you feel a deep-rooted passion and motivation to do something.

We are all inspired by different things and in different ways. Yet, inspiration is all around you and can appear at a moment’s notice.

For example:

  • You may see a young man helping an elderly woman with her groceries and get inspired to help others.
  • You may see your good friend order Mexican food in Spanish and get inspired to learn a new language.
  • You may read an inspirational quote and get inspired to finish your work/school project.

The trick is to learn how to tap into this inspiration that’s constantly around you all the time…

How to Discover Inspiration

Now, to help you discover your inspiration, we’ve broken things down into these five easy-to-follow steps:

Step 1. Observe your surroundings

To become inspired, you need to observe your surroundings. As we mentioned before, opportunities to become inspired are happening all the time; you just need to be aware of them. So, try observing your surroundings instead of texting with your friend on the phone or checking Facebook. Look around, watch what other people are doing, and get involved.

Step 2. Tap into your emotions

You’ll also need to tap into your emotions about how you see things happening. If something makes you feel good, motivated, and inspired, then do it.

Step 3. Take action

The moment you feel inspired, take action immediately. Don’t wait a minute, day, or week to get started. If you feel inspired to learn something, sign up for a class right away. Email someone who can help you get started if you feel inspired to do something.

Step 4. Start small

If you’re just starting to tap into your inspiration, start small. Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Eisenstein didn’t change the world in a day. They made small changes and slowly built on them.

Step 5. Keep it up

Inspiration looks and feels a little different for everyone. It’s when that inner flame kicks in, and you feel that passion and motivation to do something. And if you start doing something and that flame burns out, don’t worry; keep trying and revisit that initial thought and feeling when you were first inspired.

Examples Of Inspiration

Inspiration can mentally stimulate us and translate into both productivity and creativity in our daily lives. But what inspires you? Below are a few examples of inspiration you can use as sources for your own.


As human beings, we tend to model ourselves after others as we are commonly inspired by people’s bravery, kindness, creativity, and other amazing traits. Some people are inspired by those with a higher social status, while others are inspired and influenced by famous people, close friends, or family members.

An Example: Teachers change lives and inspire their students each day. When a student is inspired by their teacher or an inspiring person, they can accomplish great things and gain the motivation they need to move forward in a positive direction toward their goals.

Elon Musk, for example, was encouraged and inspired by Richard Feynman, a famous American theoretical physicist who gave lectures and wrote books on physics. Elon Musk also grew up around engineering and science.

Art and Culture

Many are also inspired by talented artists and the visual expression of culture and artistic inspiration. When we turn to art and culture for design inspiration or a new idea, it allows us to travel to different perspectives and experience something we may not have experienced prior. Art and culture can inspire creativity and innovative thinking.

An Example: When we walk our favorite art exhibits or admire culture and artwork in general, the right side of our brain takes what it sees and expands on that.

When we stare into a painting of a forest, our brain can envision us actually doing this. This allows creative people to look beyond the painting’s frame and imagine what else is out there.

A great example of this was Steve Jobs. He had dropped out of college and made a pilgrimage through India, hoping to find enlightenment and divine guidance. However, the Japanese path of Zen Buddhism ultimately awakened his sensibilities. He looked at Zen culture as a deep influence.


Nature can also inspire people as it reflects our natural environment. Spending more time in nature allows us to experience a sense of awe and astonishment. We are no longer pressured by time and take things in stride. Nature also provides lessons we can learn from.

An Example: When in nature, human beings are guided by divine inspiration. Breathe through your nose and out of your mouth. Experience the sun shining on you and discover how bright the day really is.

Velcro was actually invented by someone who was inspired by nature. The inspiration for Velcro came from the thistle’s hooked barbs. George de Mestral was a swiss engineer who noticed how the barbs stuck to his clothing and dog in 1948. After studying this, he discovered how an interlocking system could be used to design Velcro.


Music is considered pure and unadulterated inspiration and can influence our emotions, ideas, creativity, and energy. Music has the most effect on people ready to listen to it. Listening carefully and paying attention to the composition can inspire people while healing their bodies. Inspiring music also spurs intellectual activity.

An Example: Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky was heavily inspired by music. He began playing the violin at a young age and revealed just how much music had inspired him in a performance of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Andy Warhol, a pop artist, was also heavily inspired and influenced by music. He was a fan of The Velvet Underground between 1965 and 1967. He even provided them with artwork they would use on their album covers.

What Does It Mean To Be Inspiring?

So, what does it mean to be inspiring? Well, it ultimately means different things to different people, as you can see from our examples of inspiration above. To be inspired is easy. When we try to inspire others, we realize the dedication required.

Inspiring others means becoming a positive role model for someone and requires you to remain committed to a cause you are passionate about.

Traits Of Inspirational People

What are some of the common traits inspirational people share? Well, to begin with, they are amazing storytellers and have a vision they are eager to share. They not only talk about what is important but also act on it and work hard to overcome obstacles.

Those who inspire others are often innovative and more forward-thinking people. They are dedicated to inspiring others and are admired for being authentic and real. An inspiring leader is driven by value and a sense of purpose and responsibility. They crave positive change and offer encouragement to others.

How To Be A Positive Influence And Inspire Others

Ready to be a great leader and offer a positive influence to others? You just need an easy and actionable tip to get started:

  • Always have a positive attitude
  • Lead by example
  • Express confidence
  • Be happy and live happily
  • Encourage creativity
  • Be knowledgeable
  • Don’t preach; lead by example
  • Offer words of encouragement

Motivational speakers are often inspiring people whom others aspire to be like. Their words have a positive impact on others, and in some instances, on society as a whole. If you want to have this effect on others, start by reading our Guide to Improving Self-Expression and see how to start.

Inspiration and You

Now that you’ve seen our take, do you have a new meaning of inspiration for yourself? Do you have the tools and traits needed to inspire others and help them find their better selves?

As always, definitions and explanations only get us so far. The best thing to do is put them in practice in your own life. You never know where you’ll find inspiration until it strikes!

Photo of author

Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's editor, and has collected and shared inspiring quotes and stories since 2005. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.

3 thoughts on “What Does Inspiration Mean?”

  1. Kindness in the hardest places inspires me to get on with my life and be grateful and kind as well it’s a challenge these days but a simple kindness really makes a difference

  2. Who in my life inspired me? How? Why? I cannot say that any one person inspired me. I feel now like I just instinctively knew that I was responsible for creating my own inspiration. At the same time, I do get inspiration from the world around me, from books and magazines, from movies.


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