While listening to a Podcast on Positivity last month, it came to my attention that there are a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the character Pollyanna. What?! As someone who grew up watching the movie “Pollyanna” starring Haley Mills, and loving it, I was a little shocked by this news.
A “Pollyanna” remains excessively sweet-tempered and optimistic even in adversity.”
Pollyanna is the quintessential optimist. She is someone I’ve always admired because I can relate to her outlook on life. I remember watching this movie over and over again, feeling good about the impact Pollyanna had on people and thinking about my own impact on the world. It’s a “feel good” story. The main message is to look for the glad in every situation as there’s always something to be glad about.
Find the Glad
Finding the glad is not just about adding stickers to notes, dotting your i’s with smiley faces or overusing exclamation points in emails when you’re excited. (Although guilty as charged here).
It’s all about having a positive mindset. Is there a situation you’ve been complaining about? How can you turn those complaints around into something glad? I dare you to try it. For example, in one scene of the movie, everyone is complaining about how it’s Sunday and what could be glad about that, and Pollyanna’s explanation is as simple as, after today there are 6 more days before it will be Sunday again.
Finding the glad focuses on the current situation. What is happening right now? How do you feel about it? What is the glad in it?
When you change your perspective to be positive, it causes you to look at things differently. When you change your thoughts, your actions change too and it creates a chain reaction.
The problem solver
I’ve noticed how people are using the term Pollyanna and it’s getting on my nerves. “…not just naive Pollyanna optimism” or “Not to be Pollyanna about it” or ” Don’t be such a Pollyanna…” There seems to me to be a misunderstanding here…
It’s not that she is so naively optimistic, her head is in the clouds and she’s wandering around oblivious to everything around her. She is a problem solver. She pays attention and listens to people around her. She looks for and suggests ways to improve on current situations . She’s not standing around complaining about life. She’s challenging those who are to do something about their situation or at least change their mindset about it.
The Power of Positivity
Being a positive person gets a lot of mixed reviews, on one hand you’re viewed as fun, happy and care free; on the other hand flighty, silly, naive, unrealistic. It’s hard to get people to take you seriously sometimes, but I’ve learned the best way to accomplish that is to take yourself seriously.
It wasn’t until I started paying attention to the responses from colleagues and friends, when they said things like, “the world needs more of what you’re putting out there” or “you have such a good attitude” that I finally realized people need that upbeat energy. I think I used to take it for granted. I now realize it doesn’t come easy to everyone. There is a lot of negativity out there and people really appreciate a genuine, sincere, optimistic outlook.
At the end of the Pollyanna movie, her positive influence is felt so deeply and made such an impact on the lives of those she meets that they change the name of their town to Glad.
They changed the name of the town.
The final scene is one of those of happy ending movie moments where the whole town gathers, sharing their love & stories of transformation as they send her off.
(Cue the “proud tears”, grab a tissue)
Positive not perfect
It’s not to say that positive people don’t complain at all, it’s just not their “default” mode. Being a Pollyanna isn’t about being a perfect ray of sunshine all the time. In fact, people appreciate a little snark every once in a while. Sometimes, it even gets noticed more than the usual complainers, because if a Pollyanna has an issue with it, you know it’s serious.
There are days when the world gets you down, but not for too long. So if you see a Pollyanna having a bad day be sure to send some glad their way too.
What’s your glad?
What does your world start to look like when you start find the glad? If you can’t find it, then make it. Challenge the complainers. Be a change maker. Be a bright light on a dark day. Share your positivity. Be the Pollyanna problem solver.
Feel free to share the things that make you glad in the comments below.