I loved the Disney movie, “Pollyanna,” about a young girl sent to live with her aunt after the death of her parents. Pollyanna had a cheerful outlook and looked on the bright side of life. Unfortunately, her name became mistakenly synonymous with being naïve, wearing “rose-colored glasses,” or ignoring facts. That wasn’t her philosophy at all. Pollyanna simply looked for the best in each situation.
Over the years, positive thinking has also gotten the erroneous reputation of ignoring the negative. The common belief is that if you have a positive attitude, it means you must repress any distressing emotion, disregard negative circumstances, and dismiss reality.
That doesn’t accurately represent what optimism is. Being positive doesn’t mean you won’t grieve, feel sad, angry or get upset at times. It just means you allow yourself to experience the normal flow of those emotions and then begin to bounce back to a more positive frame of mind. Eventually, you’re able to view things in perspective, rather than wallow in the suffering.
When you’re positive, you don’t pretend that unpleasant occurrences don’t exist. You simply don’t focus on them. Recognizing reality is essential to formulate a constructive strategy to overcome obstacles. It’s like driving a car. You notice where the other cars are and what they’re doing, so that you can make informed decisions about how to avoid collisions. But you keep your gaze on the direction you’re going.
When you’re optimistic, you seek positive solutions and are open to possibilities. If someone calls me a “Pollyanna” in an attempt to put me down, I say “Thank you” because I know what its real meaning is. Smiling when pessimists want to spoil your day will make them nuts. It’s a win-win situation. Now that’s positive.