#inspo

inspo

  noun

1. a tag commonly used online to mean a source of inspiration or influence

Inspiration has increasingly become a bit of a buzz-word among millennials. The term “#inspo” features largely on Instagram and Twitter and continues to grow alongside our obsession to share our thoughts and experiences with anyone who will listen - such is modern culture. However in the University setting, with standardised tests and ability test scores, the emphasis on inspiration to see beyond University study can sometimes be lacklustre. This year, Chiasma aims to bridge this gap and acknowledges the importance of experiencing inspiration alongside a University degree. In 2016, Chiasma aims to inspire students to achieve the incredible.

Though the philosophy of inspiration is deeply rooted in Ancient Greek mythology, arts and literature, studies today demonstrate this uniquely human experience to be largely scientific. Psychologist professors Andrew Elliot and Todd Thrash describe “openness to experience” to be closely linked to the dopaminergic neurotransmitter – one of the ways in which neurons in the brain communicate with each other. As the release of dopamine is associated with behaviour and cognition, Thrash and Elliot examined subjects who scored higher in being open-minded during an experience with relation to their levels of dopamine release. It comes as no surprise that they found a positive association, one which evoked wider thinking ability and mental flexibility; a state which most would describe as being inspired.

Image: Neuron plasma by Manel Torralba [CC BY SA 2.0] via Flickr

Image: Neuron plasma by Manel Torralba [CC BY SA 2.0] via Flickr

The science makes perfect sense; put yourself out there with your eyes and mind wide open and you’re far more likely to experience a hit of inspiration. However, a particular concern towards inspiration becoming a trending topic is that it “peer-pressures” us to seek out constant inspiration, leading to a feeling of inspiration inadequacy driven by yet another buzz-word; “FOMO”, the “fear of missing out.” In author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk, she addresses this fear of inspiration inadequacy; explaining that inspiration can’t be demanded, it just happens, and the only way to really ensure you’re making the most of your innovative mind while you’re still studying is to;

1) Feed your curiosity.

Image: I see cat by Petras Gagilas [CC BY SA 2.0] via Flickr

Image: I see cat by Petras Gagilas [CC BY SA 2.0] via Flickr

Something as simple as going after your interests is the answer to how a lot of inspirational people embarked on their journey to leaving a mark on the world. When we think of inspiring people, more often than not, sports greats or world leaders spring to mind. When I think of my personal inspiration however, it would be impossible to pinpoint one situation or person who has inspired me to have the guts to do something I previously thought was beyond my capabilities. Inspiration for me has come from a multitude of sources; from my ever understanding parents, to the persistence my high school biology teacher taught me, to the confidence and creativity my friends share with me,  and most recently, the vibrant and refreshing perspective on achieving our goals which my Chiasma Connect mentor in 2015 gave me. These individuals, plus too many more to name, provided something which is innate to the concept of inspiration; a snowball effect and the importance of;

2) Paying it forward.

Image: Umbrella Revolution – Mongkok, Hong Kong [CC BY SA 2.0] via Flickr

Image: Umbrella Revolution – Mongkok, Hong Kong [CC BY SA 2.0] via Flickr

Inspiration is beautifully cyclical in that once something or someone inspires a person, their subsequent creations or attitude is contagious and inspires others. In a community setting, inspiration has the potential to transcend into something actionable. The millennial generation has been described as the most self-expressive and connected generation yet. For us, this means that integrating opportunities for inspiration with University study shouldn’t be a problem, as long as we continue to be part of awesome communities that encourage us to do so.