The poetic determination: Ella Wheeler Wilcox on positive thinking and how that impacts success in life


On a few occasions I have used poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox in my posts and I have always found her verse to be very empowering and inspirational. For that reason, I’ve decided to explore further her philosophy on life and how that impacted her way of thinking and writing

Ella was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin in 1850 and her writing has made significant influence on the late 19th century american poetry. She began writing her poetry very early and managed to get published by the time she graduated from high school. Her writing is remarked by plain and simple rhyme style, which made her poetry accessible across diverse generations and very popular. She was also famous for writing about everyday human problems and struggles.

Lesser known facts are that at times she faced struggle herself when her work was rejected – once even 10 times. But her continues optimism and faith in persistence gave her courage to endure. She writes:

From reincarnated sources and through prenatal causes I was born with unquenchable hope and unfaltering faith in God and guardian spirits.  I often wept myself to sleep after a day of disappointments and worries but woke in the morning singing aloud with the joy of life.

I always expected wonderful things to happen to me.

In some of my hardest days when everything went wrong with everybody at home and all my manuscripts came back for six weeks at a time without one acceptance, I recall looking out of my little north window upon the lonely road bordered with lonelier Lombardy poplars, and thinking, ‘Before night something beautiful will happen to change everything.’  There was so much I wanted.

…Once I read a sentence which became a life motto to me.  ‘If you haven’t what you like, try to like what you have.’  I bless the author for that phrase it was such a help to me.

The trust she had in her work gave her strength to go through all negative events that followed her writer’s life. Seeing the positive side in every misfortune and the way she cheered herself is timeless wisdom we all as writers can adhere. What kind of power our thoughts have she also wrote in one of her poems:

I hold it true that thoughts are things
Endowed with bodies, breath, and wings,
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results – or ill

The desire of wanting something so badly is the drive that goes beyond any negative opinion someone else can hold against us. And in spite all stay gentle and kind:

It is easy to be pleasant when life flows by like a song, but the man worth while is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong. For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always comes with years, and the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through the tears.”

Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox died in 1919, with poetry collections left behind her: Poems of Passion (1883), A Woman of the World (1904), Poems of Peace(1906), Poems of Experience (1910), and Poems (1919).

For this is wisdom- to love and live
To take what fate or the Gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion’s ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in time–let go.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To further explore the topic on power of belief, I recommend:

  1. 3 reasons why we should “revisit” our core beliefs, from time to time
  2.  Removing your biggest obstacle towards success: fear of failure

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