Make Your Own Bible (or Book of Inspiration)


What inspires you? Do you feel you have a constant source of reflection and inspiration?

Lately I’ve been feeling uninspired though I check a lot of positive articles, quotes, and images on different sites.

I feel good for a moment or two, then it’s gone. And I’m back to my pattern of thinking. Nothing has been a source of continued inspiration.

Do you feel the same? Inspired for a few moments, then back to drudgery, overwhelm, or boredom? Why do we feel this way?

There are many reasons behind the feelings. From conditioned thoughts and beliefs, to feelings of helplessness or confusion about what matters to us, we get lost in repetitive thoughts and emotions.

But we don’t have to continue with the same unexamined pattern.

A simple idea

One idea that I came across recently is simple and has been around for a very long time—creating our own personalized inspiration book.

“Make your own bible,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his Journals in 1836.

This is not about making up your own religion. Emerson meant to encourage the readers to follow the Renaissance practice of compiling favorite quotes, poems, letters, and passages into a simple book to be used for reflection and inspiration.

Today there are so many inspiring stories, quotations, images, and videos that get shared thousands of times on social media. Most messages, however, are forgotten within a few hours or days.

Before getting into making the book, I’d like to share the benefits of having your own inspirational bible.

The advantages of creating your own book

I started experimenting with this idea a couple of weeks back. Here are some of the advantages.

Awareness and focus: It takes time and focused effort to copy something over, and add it to your book. This means you don’t bookmark something on a whim, never to look at it again. You intentionally make a decision, and thus, become more aware of what you’re reading, and whether it can be a source of continued inspiration.

Easy and effective access: Having your notes in one place makes it easy for you to access your book any time you feel you need an emotional or spiritual boost. Also, you won’t need to worry about any site closing, changing its terms of service, or losing your bookmarked messages.

Motivation and strength: Reflecting on inspirational thoughts and ideas can motivate you to do something, or at least it will improve your mood and attitude.

How to start compiling your book

We really don’t have an excuse for not compiling our own bible. We have at our fingertips all the sources we need.

Easy access comes with a few challenges: information overload, over-sharing, and more frequent updates. Where do you start? Do you use a physical notebook, or use its digital equivalent?

My personal preference is a paperless digital book. It’s best to start small, and add material over time.

1- Choose format and application. The simplest way I found is creating a presentation in Google documents and adding slides as needed.

You can use PowerPoint or Keynote (for Mac), instead of Google.

I’m recommending slides because they’re flexible and simple to use. Just drag images, or insert text boxes that you can easily format.

If you prefer to have your book layout in portrait (more length and less width) instead of the default landscape, go to your page setup and choose custom, then enter the desired dimensions. Finalize your format before adding material (you can test it with a few quotes and images). This way you don’t have to reformat misaligned content.

You can add text, images and imbed videos (will need to be online to access the video). It’s best to watch the video and keep your notes in your book. You can add a link to the video, if you decide to watch it again.

Once I’m done adding slides, I download the file in PDF format, and use it on any computer or device. I replace the PDF with a newer version after adding more slides.

2- Determine sources of material. You probably have material scattered around in your inbox, Twitter favorites, Facebook Likes and Shares, Pinterest pins, or good old bookmarks.

To start, go through each item and decide if you want to add it to your book. If it’s something that’s of value to you, add it, if not, delete it, and move on.

Sometimes you have full articles. But the ideas that resonate can probably be summarized in a few sentences or paragraphs. This would be a good practice to read the article, find what you really like, and delete the rest.

Every time you read, or see something that inspires you, stop for a moment and decide if you want to add it to your book, and do it right away. If you don’t have access to your book, make a note of the item and add it as soon as you can.

3- Use it. After you add your slides, export the file, and put it to use. Whenever you feel unmotivated, flip through your book. A few notes about making your own book below.

Practical considerations

Not a to-do or wish list: This book should contain things that inspire and center you. I don’t recommend adding things you wish you could do or experience, which might lead to painful feelings of wanting and yearning, the opposite of strength and insight.

No action required: Inspiration is not an action—it’s an emotional fuel that may encourage action, or alleviate negativity. We don’t need to do anything other than look at the pages of our book, and reflect on what we read.

Refresh: The beauty of a digital document is that we can add, delete, or rearrange the pages any way we want. This is not a set in stone document.

Not system dependent: It’s best to keep your book in a format that you can work with on any computer or device. This way you don’t need to worry about proprietary software, and exporting to various formats.

It’s intimately private: This is a personal book that you don’t need to share with the world. This way you can add anything that resonates with you without ego, or the need for attention or approval. Also, when you keep things to yourself, you won’t need to worry about copyright infringement.

Use color and imagery: The mind loves variety. So don’t shy away from adding color to text, and using images in your book. Inspiration can be a lot of fun.

If you prefer to create a paper inspiration book, just get a notebook and start adding clippings and images, or write your favorite passages and quotes. It’s not as flexible as a digital book, but it is simpler to maintain, and you may feel better holding a physical book in your hands, instead of staring at a screen.

Inspiration is an inside job. Just like how we see the world and how we interact with it is our responsibility, what moves and motivates us is something we can only do for ourselves—with the help of external resources of wisdom and knowledge.

With all the distractions and noise, it’s more important now than ever to have our own guiding compass. Having your own bible is the best way to stay focused, truthful, and inspired.