Think Pollyanna

I’ve been thinking a lot about my outlook recently. (No, not my email program, although I do spend a lot of time there.)

I’ve been thinking about the way I view things in life.

I try to be a positive person, generally believing (or at least attempting to believe) the best about people and my circumstances. But once in a while, when something goes south–personally or professionally–I can withdraw into my thoughts and start thinking darker, less positive thoughts.  Slights that normally would mean nothing can become wounds. Words that might regularly not bother me start to hurt pretty bad. And when I spend too much time in this place, losing my sense of happiness and joy, I spiral further into negativity.  Soon, every blessing is forgotten, every good thing is gone, and I see only the hurt, the wound, the injustice.

This year, I’m attempting to do less of that thinking and spending a lot more time being glad. The old book (and great Disney film) Pollyanna was about an orphan girl who played what she called “The Glad Game” every day.  No matter what circumstance she found herself in, she tried to find something to be glad about in it.  In doing so, she ended up changing the lives of an entire town of crabby, dour people who were so busy focusing on the negative things in life they had lost their joy.

There’s a great song by Johny Mercer that says, “Accentuate the positive! Eliminate the negative! Latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween.”  This is a good and healthy mantra for any of us.  Put your focus on the good. Cut the negative talk and thoughts. Affirm what is good and right in your life and your outlook will definitely change.

If a classic book and film and song don’t convince you, perhaps the writer of most of the New Testament can.  In Philippians 4:8, Paul says,

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

What is interesting about this concept–focusing our hearts and minds on the good, the right, the beautiful, the admirable–is that not only will it change our outlook, it has the potential to fundamentally alter the lives of those around us as well.  Our coworkers, our friends, our families–their thoughts and hearts will also be uplifted as well.  Imagine a world where fewer people focused on what is wrong and focused so much more on what is beautifully, wonderfully right in our world.  It would be a different, better place.

So whether you play the Glad Game or Accentuate the Positive or just want to be more biblical, join me in focusing on what is positive. I’m going to think more like Pollyanna this year and find something to be glad about, I’m going to spread joy up to the maximum and bring gloom down to the minimum, and think about things that are worthy of praise.

Or, in one more example, from the musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’m going to “Think Positive!”  Let’s do it together and change the world.

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