September 30, 2020

Enlightened Life Lessons from Pollyanna.

For years, I was uncomfortable when I was called a “Pollyanna.” 

But now, I admit, I’ve read more into the meaning and see the riches; I am happy with the nickname.

Here is why:

Imagine all of the buses you’ve missed, all the minutes you’ve waited in traffic, long queues, sullen people, tough bosses, and grumpy parents. None of that bothers Pollyanna.

I live life with a sense of inner peace and see the beauty in every moment. What a great gift! Pollyanna must have read Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now.

What can we call permanent in this life? Nothing. Everything changes; everything renews; everything flows. 

In this fluidity, I (the Pollyanna type) recognize that emotions can also be fluid and variable. Even though most of us try to accept life as it is, I’ve noticed a more common tendency toward negative thoughts. Almost as if negativity is cool. It’s more popular because people feel like they can come together in the negative; this is an easier way to feel.

Think about this:

What’s happening around you right now?

People are fighting with each other, while (somewhere) the sun is slowly setting. Curses are dealt back and forth, and the sun’s color changes from bright orange to red. People point out each other’s deficiencies, they are exaggerated, and the sun eventually becomes invisible, leaving a pinkish sky behind. There is pessimism in the air; they are pissed off, and nobody notices the gorgeous pink air left behind from the sunset. 

Not with a Pollyanna. We know that there is always beauty in the moment.

Of course, the color of the sky cannot always be our saving grace. There are bad situations and painful emotions. But the philosophy of Pollyanna emphasizes the beauty in everything that exists. It’s an effort to see the good despite the bad—despite the hopeless moments. (I’m also not saying we claim that the bad feelings disappear or don’t exist.)

But you can trick the brain.

Think about your busy days. You might be hungry, but you don’t even notice it because your focus is on your work. That is a tiny example, but imagine if you put your focus on the beauty in life. It might be easier to see less of the negative if you’re focusing on the positive!

What struck me, even more, was how Pollyanna believed in people’s goodness—and reminded everyone of it—even if their own belief in humanity was lost. 

How many times have we waited for someone who believes in us in this life? Wouldn’t you want your own Pollyanna rooting for you?

It is our turn, the Pollyannas of the world, to become a hairdryer—warming hearts of ice. Or maybe we are a gentle hammer, destroying the existing walls.

As Simon and Garfunkel said, “I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.” 

If you see yourself as a nail, you can’t complain about your bowing head. Pollyanna’s head was always up. While the people around her felt sorry for her, when the situation seemed impossible, she was doing what she believed.

So being Pollyanna doesn’t feel like a bad thing anymore. 

Now I don’t really understand why I was so uncomfortable with the label. Maybe it was because I hadn’t actually read it before. Or maybe because I felt the implications in their words.

But now, I thank everyone who ever called me Pollyanna. What a great honor! 

Maybe living like Pollyanna can become a new trend?

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