Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Channeling Pollyanna

I will be the first to admit that being called “Pollyanna” is not usually a compliment, connoting someone who is excessively and even blindly optimistic. I have found the idea of Pollyannaism to be annoying and unrealistic. However, I recently happened across the film (based on the book by Eleanor Porter) on cable, and was able to see it with new eyes. Pollyanna was a young girl who came to a small, uptight town after her parents died and ended up making a huge difference in people’s lives. She helped them to see another point of view – a more positive one that better served them. And in the end, they were grateful and returned the favor by coming to her side when she was in need of love and support after a debilitating accident that crushed her spirits.

Pollyanna is about perspective. She played the “Glad Game,” which involved taking a bad situation or issue and asking the question, “What can we find that’s good about this?” It’s not about making up something that is not true, or about ignoring the realities. It is about acknowledging what may be so, and taking it a step further by shifting focus and attitude toward something positive.

I have been playing with this for a few weeks and have found that there are so many default perspectives I have going on within me that tend to focus on the negative. While they may help highlight areas where caution is needed (warning), or where empathy toward another is warranted (when the situation involves someone else), these points of view only get me so far. What I’m most interested in is how can I take heed, but create a more positive outlook at the same time? I believe in the power of choice. When presented with a situation where I may have a variety of points of view, I want to choose a perspective that empowers me.

There has been a lot of press about the Law of Attraction. In essence, it says “like attracts like.” Our thoughts, as demonstrated in quantum physics, have the power to shape our experiences and the world around us. So, if we think negatively about something (e.g., “I’ll never get out of debt” or “I know I’m going to screw this up”), we tend to get exactly what our mental vibration is putting out. In contrast, if we focus on the more affirming perspective (e.g., “There is an abundance of money out there and I just need to find it” or “I am a strong, intelligent person who will do an excellent job here”), we are more likely to attract that. This could also be explained simply by the power of our own beliefs – when we believe we can or can’t, we’re usually right.

If the Law of Attraction or Pollyanna sound hokey or completely out in left field, consider this: Wouldn’t it be better to go through our days feeling good about our experiences, to channel something positive, and to open our eyes to what’s possible? Wouldn’t we rather choose a perspective that allows our minds to refocus on what’s amazing in our lives versus what’s missing and broken? I challenge you to practice playing with positive perspectives and affirmations every day for a week and see how your attitude and experience shift.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

I love the Disney movie, Polyana, and watch it probably twice a year and it is usually when I have allowed my own attitude to take a dip. The daily news is so riddled with bad news - it is what sells and what reporters are paid to do - report what gets our attention. Our brains are wired to fix things, therefore we are easily attracted to negative news. However, there is so much good that is happening each day that is never reported. People are doing extraordinary things in their lives on a daily basis.
One of my favorite books is: Unstoppable by Cynthia Kersey and is another way to remind myself that great things happen that we do not hear about.
I think that Pollyana can remind us to see what is good in the world, because it is out there, just not reported. Even Pollyana had a hard time seeing what was good when her legs became paralyzed. But,it was the people who she taught to think differently who came to her and supported her when she needed support.
Our job as coaches is similar in that we provide support when clients sometimes can not see what is possible for them - not that we paint a rosy picture, but we can hold the mirror of their life up to them so that they can see what was right there before but unnoticed. Just like the people in Pollyana's world, they just did not see what was right there before them until she helped them think in a different way.
Thanks for sharing your perspective!