We often forget that inspiration — along with its cousins elevation and awe — are positive emotions that make us feel more content, joyful and satisfied with our lives. One way to bring more of these positive emotions into our lives is to memorize a part of a poem that inspires us.

This is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

The lines I say to myself for inspiration are, “the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

Use the Internet to find a poem you remember loving. Print it out, highlight your favorite lines, and commit them to memory.

Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a coach and the author of RAISING HAPPINESS: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.  A sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, her goal is to help parents bring more joy into their own lives and the lives of their children.

ADVERTISEMENT

Want more great tips?
Happy Mom Tip #1: Disconnect
Happy Mom Tip #2: Stop Rushing Around
Happy Mom Tip #3: Express Gratitude
Happy Mom Tip #4: Organize
Happy Mom Tip #5: Forgive Someone
Happy Mom Tip #6: Get Excited About Someone Else’s Good News
Happy Mom Tip #7: Celebrate a Mistake
Happy Mom Tip #8: Talk To Strangers
Happy Mom Tip #9: Share Your Good News
Happy Mom Tip #10: Flex Your Generosity Muscle
Happy Mom Tip #11: Be Kind
Happy Mom Tip #12: Take a Break 
Happy Mom Tip #13: Dance Around
Happy Mom Tip #14: Make Yourself Guffaw
Happy Mom Tip #15: Take a Stroll
Happy Mom Tip #16: Go Out and Play With Some Friends
Happy Mom Tip #17: Give Out Some Hugs
Happy Mom Tip #18: Find Some Inspiration
Happy Mom Tip #19: Get Out into Nature
Happy Mom Tip #20: Imagine Your “Best Possible Future Self”
Happy Mom Tip #21: Get Enough Sleep
Happy Mom Tip #22: Let Yourself Feel What You Feel
Happy Mom Tip #23: Expose Yourself to Someone Else’s Pain
Happy Mom Tip #24: Turn Off the Boob Tube
Happy Mom Tip #25: Don’t Buy That Thing That You Really Want
Happy Mom Tip #26: Take a Blatant Nap
Happy Mom Tip #27: Play a Game That Makes You Happy
Happy Mom Tip #28: Spend Some Time Alone
Happy Mom Tip #29: Take a Power Nap
Happy Mom Tip #30: Learn Something New
Happy Mom Tip #31: Have an Easy Morning
Happy Mom Tip #32: One Kind Thing.
Happy Mom Tip #33: Exhale. Twice.
Happy Mom Tip #34: Stop Stalling 
Happy Mom Tip #35: Make Your Task List More Fun
Happy Mom Tip #36: Ignore Your Kids
Happy Mom Tip #37: Take 20
Happy Mom Tip #38: Call a Friend
Happy Mom Tip #39: Lower Your Expectations
Happy Mom Tip #40: Commit to Kindness
Happy Mom Tip #41: Automate a Hassle
Happy  Mom Tip #42: Say No to Someone Besides Yourself
Happy Mom Tip #43: Hang Out with an Animal
Happy Mom Tip #44: Listen to Your Favorite Songs
Happy Mom Tip #45: Skip Those Christmas Cookies
Happy Mom Tip #46: Write a Love Letter
Happy Mom Tip #47: Stick With Your Routine

photo courtesy of Torsten Mangner via Creative Commons