In defense of Pollyanna.

Pollyanna (n): a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and the tendency to find good in everything

I have actually read the book that started the whole “Pollyanna” trend. It’s a 1913 children’s book by Eleanor H. Porter and tells the story of a little girl who overcomes extreme obstacles by keeping a positive attitude, which allowed her to be happy, despite her challenging external conditions. Eventually the people around her caught on to her way of thinking and became happier as well.

It’s possibly the first book written about positive thinking and its message somehow got twisted throughout the years. Probably due its 1961 annoying-as-fuck film version, now every time you hear somebody being a called “Pollyanna,” it’s an insult, implying that person has no grip on the reality of the situation.

It appears that “Pollyanna” is grandmother of “Karen.”

I think we could all use a little Pollyanna in our lives right now. Especially if you’re like me and in early recovery from a severe eating disorder.

Nothing will send me to the grocery store late at night faster than a headful of negative thoughts. Mine tend to run in the “What if” category:

  • What if I lose my job?
  • What if I don’t ever get married again?
  • What if nobody really likes me?
  • What if I say no to this party and then I never get another invitation?

These thoughts generate hysteria, which leaves me to turn into a REAL person who has no grip on the situation. Most – if not all – my “What Ifs” have never happened, or if they did, were of a much lesser degree or turned out to be blessings in disguise.

Yet the thoughts wreak havoc in my emotional life. They drive me to seek comfort in food, other people, cigarettes, excessive Netflix watching – all the while never really addressing the root of the discomfort.

Negative thinking is the culprit.

The antidote is, of course, to Pollyanna the shit out of those negative thoughts.

  • What if I continue to advance in my career and achieve even higher levels of success and service to my company?
  • What if I find fulfillment in myself and in a new, loving, gentle relationship that will happen in its own time?
  • What if I learn to say yes to only those invitations that make me happy .. or better yet, start sending out invitations of my own?

It takes effort to turn the negativity around, but it takes a lot more effort to live in hysteria.

I don’t care what people think, I’m on team Pollyanna.

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