Saturday, April 3, 2010

How To Be Happier: A Poet’s Guide To The New Cognitive-Behavioral Science of Positive Thinking

No whining.

“If only I had the vacation time and the money to live on the beach in Provincetown like Mary Oliver….” If only Jorie Graham was my godmother…” Um, hello? You’re whining.

Think positive thoughts.

What’s a positive thought?

A review: a positive thought is a thought you think that makes you feel good.

For instance, here’s a positive thought: “I totally could have written that drivel that was just published The New Yorker. Totally could have written.”

Create a feel-good mantra. “Though my poems have been rejected, “I [fill in this blank with something that affirms your inherent worth].”

Picture in your mind, a wonderful place. Like a podium at Mt. Holyoke College.

The auditorium is packed with good-looking, poetry-loving girls who still have their jodhpurs on; they’ve just come from riding.

Though it is a full-time job, ruminating on the genius of Mark Strand is not aerobic.

Get outside. Walk. Run.

Get a dog, one that does not read The Paris Review.

Vitamin D has been proven to be good for poets. Go outside, seasonally, for haiku.

Divide a page of your Moleskin journal into two columns. On the left side, write down all of your negative thoughts.

On the right side, refute them, with “I can choose not to be jealous of Kay Ryan; I have my own voice -- if not right now then very very soon.”


  1. Please can I be just a little jealous of Mary Oliver and Mark Strand? I need to be. Then I will be positive. I promise.

  2. Oh, please don't ev-er become a positive thinker. I love all your angst, and your real human remarks of "totally could have written that drivel from the New Yorker."

    Yeah, that's why I come here. All.of.that.

    If I wanted sunshine and pink ponies I'd go to "Charlie the Unicorn."

    Love, your number one fan.

  3. I'm only a fan of positive thinking when the thoughts happen to be true as well.

    You are exceptionally funny. Glad I found you.

  4. Ok, let me try this: My readers think I am just as funny as Erma Bombeck. Sounds good! Next: I have more talent in my little finger than that guy who writes "Mashable." BETTER! Now: The only thing that is stopping me from fame and fortune is the fact that I don't have an agent. WOW. This works!