A new year brings with it new ideas and inspiration. But where, who and what inspires you? Is it influencers with the latest over-sized, over-priced cool cup aka the Stanley Quencher! (I know, it's crazy, but I'd love one of these!) Read on to find out why inspiration is important to your wellbeing - and not from a keeping up with the Joneses point of view - but to show you what is possible and help you move forward in your life.
A few years ago I read At Home by Bill Bryson. I found it absolutely fascinating and my love of all things home and interiors was taken to another level through the knowledge and information provided in this historic account of the spaces with live in. However, there was one historical account that has stayed with me. It is in the opening chapter of the book and sets the scene for the time frame of the book - 1851. It is the story of Joseph Paxton.
Now, you may or may not know who Paxton was, but at the time of reading this book, I certainly didn’t. And the abilities and audacity of the man filled me with awe. His story is one of imagination, inspiration and ingenuity.
What makes Joseph Paxton so intriguing is his humble beginnings together with his foresight. He was born into a poor farming family and became an apprentice gardener aged 14. And through his clear speech, hard work and determination, he was appointed the head gardener at Chatsworth House aged just 22 years old. But it was not this that caught my attention. It was what he achieved several years later when he went on to design and oversee the creation of the world’s largest building in only 35 weeks.
The Crystal Palace, built to house The Great Exhibition of 1851, was a feat of architectural design and engineering not seen before. Paxton designed a glass house so futuristic and unimaginable, that the novelist Charlotte Brontë, who was so impressed, thought it “a wonderful place – vast, strange, new and impossible to describe”. She felt “as if none but supernatural hands could have arranged it thus, with such a blaze and contrast of colours and marvellous power of effect”.(1)
This design, Paxton’s position as a mere gardener, and the timing of such an achievement inspire and remind me of the power and problem solving of creativity. You may feel the same about other historical, technological or scientific discoveries - the pyramids, landing on the moon, penicillin. It is these moments in our history that mark brilliance, hope and the very best of the creative spirit. And it is the people behind these moments that inspire us years later.
It is people who are breathing life into their dreams, no matter how improbable, that give us a glimpse of what is possible.
Recently, I have found inspiration - the feeling of being enthused, hopeful and encouraged - very important to my wellbeing. If I am feeling particularly down about a situation, or cannot find a solution to a problem (and I may be close to giving up), I will look to others who have gone before and read about their creativity, tenacity and ability to keep going. It is people who are breathing life into their dreams, no matter how improbable, that give us a glimpse of what is possible. These individuals raise our hopes and imaginations, they lift our spirits and spur us on.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
In the past 18 months I have taken this further and started to seek out and spend time with people in real life that inspire and uplift me, those who are living out their dreams. I am seeking out the optimists in this life. As Winston Churchill said “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty."
Inspiration isn’t only reserved for arty or creative types. Inspiration is important to us all - it is an emotional spark that allows us to see beyond a problem to a potential solution. And so, it is good to be aware of where your inspiration is coming from - seeking out inspiration intentionally.
And so, as I build my own business and a life I love, I am determined to surround myself with dreamers AND do-ers, those who believe they can AND achieve it. Those who keep going, who don’t give up and importantly, lift others with them along the way. I want to live with as few “what ifs” as possible and be inspired by people who are big thinkers, expansive in their visions and ideas. Individuals who radiate optimism, hope, encouragement and purpose show me what is possible. They are living proof of what can be done. And also, they can usually relate to the struggles of real life, with it’s ups and down’s, plot twists and turns. These are my people - full of integrity, who follow through on their words and walk the talk.
I like to believe Joseph Paxton was like this. I'm not sure what he would have thought of the over-sized over-priced cup craze! But I imagine him as a bright spark - full of optimism, hope, encouragement and purpose. It is my hope to be this for others. That I might be the person who encourages, gives hope and provides a spark of enthusiasm for another’s dream.
And to get you started this year, I have a gorgeous FREE PDF for you to help you find the time to be inspired and become happier and healthier this year. I've put the link below - just click on this and it will drop into your inbox like magic!
I’d love to know in the comments below, or on my social feeds your thoughts on inspiration - what inspires you and lights you up? Get in touch @iamsarahalexcarter Let me know what resonates with you when you think about wellbeing and the letter I. Share this with others who you know could benefit from being inspired. You can also click to subscribe and join me on this journey from A to Z and be the first to receive updates and all the goodness I'm going to share this year.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PDF - TIME FOR YOU - HERE!