10 Places to Go for Inspiration
Inspiration comes to people differently. With the internet (ahem, Buzzfeed), there are tons of inspirational quotes and stories, but for me, physical locations are often more inspirational than memes. (See also: 8 Quotes to Inspire Your Dream Career)
It usually all boils down to what your interests are, or what you're struggling with in the first place. Below are the 10 places that inspire me, but I'm sure there will be an overlap in your own lives.
1. Live Music
I work at a music venue sporadically, and live music is simply the best. From seeing music in a small, intimate setting or in a large arena, you're able to see a musician really dig deep into what they're playing. Their love for what they do always reminds me that we should love what we do for a living as well.
My father loves jazz, and the live experience of improvisational jazz can't be topped by recorded music. It's freeing, and you don't know what could happen next. In college, I met almost all of my friends through music, whether they played it or enjoyed it as equally as much as me. In fact, it was a friend I met through one specific band's (Warning: Autostart Music) many live performances who then inspired me to move to New York and ultimately shaped my destiny.
2. Comedy Clubs
When I moved to New York, I met quite a few comedians and improvisers. I've seen some of the funniest people alive today perform comedy, and it's amazing to see how quick their minds work and how they can recall the slightest detail. Also, laughter allows you to steer your mind in a different direction, so you distract yourself long enough to work out an issue. It's also nice to hear a stand-up comedian make fun of something that's been on your mind lately. Having people find the humor in sometimes difficult situations can help you move on.
3. Public Parks
Sit on a bench, play on the swingset, or just stroll around. Public parks are often filled with children and watching them smile, share toys, or ride a slide 50 times because it's just as fun the last time as it was the first time is uplifting. Children take joy in the little things, and it's a nice reminder that we should too. Take a journal with you and write down random thoughts or observations. Life is short, and being happy and having fun every day is important.
Find a trail to hike or bike. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds as you go. There are no car horns or televisions on those trails, just the blowing wind and crunching leaves. Or if you live near a beach, head down to the shore for a few hours and lay in the sun, taking in the crash of the waves and the smell of sea salt. The ocean refreshes itself, so let it refresh you. And don't think nature is just for art — nature has influenced quite a few tech geeks as well, so you never know. (See also: Over 50 Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun)
5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
You have nothing but time while in transit, and the momentum helps to get your juices flowing. While traveling, I've always had the ability to completely clear my head and focus. I've written some of my best stories with the unlikely aid of leg cramps and exhaustion. Use your time wisely and charge up your laptop or don't forget a pen. And if you're worried about anyone reading what you write, who cares… it's all worth it in the end. (See also: 6 Ways to Get More Done on a Plane)
6. Bookstores and Libraries
Books themselves are, of course, often inspiring. Often when I read a book, I think like the author and pick up on their writing style. But I love diving into one piece of literature and a chapter later reading another piece of literature. I sit on the floor surrounded by books, reading everything at once.
Go through different sections and topics — you might be surprised at what might pique your interest, especially books from different time periods (both fiction and nonfiction). After all, history can be a great source of inspiration. We constantly learn from the past to shape our future.
7. The Gym
Exercising is the perfect way to unwind and relax. It's also the perfect way to think about things you might be pushing away because you can't make a decision or don't know what you want. Yoga helps me meditate and plan things out, and I find that the grueling task of spin class helps me to refocus my energy and teaches me self-discipline. You go hard in spinning classes, and there is no room for complaining. The stress relief will make you feel better and really get you moving both mentally and physically. (See also: 20 Really Cheap Ways to Relieve Stress)
8. Flea Markets and Thrift Stores
As they say, one man's junk is another man's treasure. Browsing around flea markets and thrift stores is a great way to get inspired by the past.
I have a number of friends who are excellent "pickers," and when they buy an item that is slightly used, they're instantly ready to go to work on it or use it to change their entire motif. Looking at something worn and run down and creating something beautiful from it is inspiration at work. For instance, my friend used thrift stores and flea markets to style her wedding. It was cheaper, and she felt more of a connection with the items because they were made or improved by her own hands. In the end, working on her wedding inspired her to pursue a career in styling weddings and photo shoots.
9. Dreaming/My Bed
Yes, my own brain is my inspiration. I'm often described as random, mainly because my brain goes from one totally inane topic to another. Therefore, my dreams do, too. Most of the time it's my brain working something out for me, whether it be a problem I need to solve or an issue I need to address. My dreams are also vivid and creative, which leads to imaginative storytelling. And sometimes at lunch I take a power nap so I can refocus myself, as Thomas Edison did. A nap hasn't led me to an invention like the light bulb, but it has helped me sort out issues for clients.
10. Restaurants and Bars
Eating and drinking with friends is a great source of inspiration for me. Discussing issues with a friend and sharing personal experiences makes me think of the problem in a completely different light. Getting away, having a drink or two, and relaxing makes me focus on the big picture, rather than being stuck on one problem. It also gives me new perspective on the issue because I'm able to step away and come back to it later.
What places serve as your inspiration?