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Reading Poetry Can Instantly Boost Your Happiness, Says Deepak Chopra | Reader’s Digest

deepakCourtesy Ali KaukasReading poetry brings us joy

From colorful words and vibrant verses to vivid imagery and alternative meanings, poetry inspires us to stretch our imaginations to a greater understanding of reality and consciousness. Indeed, poetry can enhance creativity, sense of wonder, and it may even reduce stress and anxiety. We have made a habit of reading poetry, which motivated us to write a new collection of poems Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants. If you want to calm your mind and still your soul, make it a practice to read a poem because it will help you pause, reflect, and possibly experience more happiness. 

Poetry reduces stress and anxiety

After a long and stressful day, there’s nothing like winding down with a beautiful and lyrical poem. We enjoy reading poetry in the evenings because it helps us escape from the daily hustle-and-bustle of schedules packed with meetings, conference calls, and presentations. While reading a poem, we aren’t thinking about our obligations or commitments. We don’t feel any stress or anxiety. Instead, we’re focused on trying to understand the meaning of the words on the page. And it’s not just us who relax with poetry: US Army soldiers started a poetry night so they could better cope with deployments. “It’s like another world in there, it gets you away from the stress of work, and it gives you a chance to be able to relax,” said one of the soldiers. Here are some more quick, easy ways to reduce stress.

Poetry encourages empathy

Poems are full of emotion, from happiness and joy to sadness and despair. Take Kenneth Koch’s “In Love With You,” in which he uses dramatic and striking language to describe his affection:

“O what a physical effect it has on me
To dive forever into the light blue sea.”

By comparing the effect of love to diving into the ocean, Koch offers a lively image that fills our minds and tugs at our hearts. We all know what it feels like to be in love so fully and completely. And by reading these few lines, we are transported to an emotional state in which we feel for the poet and what he’s going through. We feel empathy for him. And compassion helps us build connections and relationships with other people. These poems about love and loss are sure to stir up emotions.

Poetry makes us more creative

As writers, we find it rewarding to express ourselves freely and without hesitation. But when we write prose, we’re constrained by the rules of grammar, which inhibit expression and speech. Poetry doesn’t abide by these rules. Poets can write whatever they want, and they are totally free to violate all rules, laws, and guidelines along the way. They can misspell words, turn them upside down, or even scatter them like rain drops on a page. By reading poetry, we become more creative, and we feel less restricted by conventional rules or wisdom. Because of poetry, we more readily write and say what we feel. Here are 10 easy ways to boost your own creativity every day.

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Reading a poem is quick

It doesn’t take a lot of time to read a poem. Of course, poems can be long and fill entire books. But most are concise and require only a few seconds or minutes to peruse. For example, the poem “Words” in our book is composed of only 12 words. And while a poem might demand little time of you, it could leave you in a thoughtful, reflective, and even happier frame of mind for hours and days. A short poem could even stay with you for years. By reading a poem, you can quickly center and refocus yourself so that you feel more at peace and happier. 

Our favorite poets make us happy

We love reading the poems of Robert Frost, William Butler Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Emily Dickinson. But our favorite poet is Rabindranath Tagore, from India, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913; he died in 1941. He wrote about nature, love, spirituality, and daily live in India. For example, in one of his poems, he writes: “Amidst the rush and roar of life, O beauty, carved in stone, you stand mute and still, alone and aloof.” Even as the world is filled with chaos and strife, his poetry helps us look for beauty. We try to see the good in things, the glass as half-full, whatever the situation. And poetry certainly doesn’t have to be heavy; these funny poems from the 2015 Reader’s Digest Poetry Contest prove that much.

Poetry gives us silence

When we read poetry, we reflect in silence. It’s during these periods of calm that we become more self-aware. We stop going about our daily activities and feel our own presence. By silencing our minds with introspection, we become aware of that which is most important. In this quietness, we can hear our inner voices, which is the language of the heart. Because of this silence, we feel more calm and serene. Take a step back from the warp-speed of your life with these beautiful poems about nature.

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