Sunday, October 21, 2012

In defense of Pollyanna

I'm one of those upbeat people.  Not all of the time, but most of the time.  It has come to my attention recently that sometimes people find this annoying. Lest you think I misinterpreted some slight cue, I will repeat the exact sentence that clued me in, "You know what I hate about you? All that Pollyanna crap." I'm absolutely positive I didn't misinterpret that. There was much more to the conversation, but you get the point. And oh, by the way, the person who said that to me is a friend (yes, still) and she was super pissed-off at me at the time. This will happen. We've had a little heart-to-heart and cleared things up, but it did get me to thinking. Is my never-say-never, look-on-the-bright side attitude somehow leading me astray? Is there something wrong with enjoying my life and finding people fascinating? Should I be getting my panties in a wad over what everyone else is doing or not doing?

Just to be sure we were talking about the same thing, I looked up the definition of Pollyanna in the dictionary.  It was described as a person who is constantly or excessively optimistic. I prefer to think of myself as relentlessly optimistic, but whichever way you slice it, I've been called worse. I've been worse. Oh, I've been much, much worse.   

Part of the reason my friend was upset with me is that I can tolerate loads of odd behavior from people.  It's just the way I am, and frankly I'm getting a little tired of explaining it and making half-hearted apologies for it. The truth is, I really don't care that much what anyone is doing, as long as I am able to live my life in a way that makes me happy. At this current juncture, I want to enjoy my children and husband, make art & write stories. Alas, somewhere in there I am also obliged to have a career. As long as these things happen, I'm good. I've either been extraordinarily fortunate or heartwrenchingly unfortunate (so difficult to sort out)  to have had a wide variety of experiences in my life, so when I see people doing strange things, making questionable decisions, or acting like dumb-asses, I totally get it.  I've been there, believe me.  

I think what bothered me a little about the Pollyanna comment was the idea that somehow my relentless optimism is born out of something negative, like ignorance or a lack emotional depth. I don't think either of these apply to me. I'm perfectly capable of becoming an emotional wreck, I simply choose not to. My positive attitude is absolutely intentional.  It's a skill that I have cultivated for a long, long time and it works for me. It is my opinion that if we all just tried to be a little more enthusiastic and positive, the world would be a better place, but what do I know?

I came across another definition of the term Pollyanna and I like it much better - one who finds cause for gladness in the most difficult of situations.  That one I can get behind. 

How does all this relate to creativity, which after all, is supposed to be the focus of this blog.  My attitude is inexorably linked to my creativity. On one of those rare days when I feel flat and deflated, devoid of liveliness and passion, I'm not very creative.  It's all I can do to drag myself through my daily tasks and prepare to start all over again.  That isn't living, it's drudgery and it happens to the best of us, but we don't have to live in that place permanently.  We can choose to change it, and make our lives a place of creativity and energy.  If your heart yearns to create, regardless of what your activity of choice is, regardless of how 'good' you are at it, you owe it to yourself to smooth out a small, serene place in your life which allows this process to take place. Being positive and unencumbered by resentment, frustration, and anger is a terrific first step toward that goal.  Even if you have to fake it at first, try focusing on being happy. Separate your actions and responsibilities from those around you, and then keep your eyes trained on what is yours. As much as possible, live in the present. It is my belief that these actions have the ability to propel you to a place of greater imagination and creativity, which is my wish for each of you.

The art in this post was created by Thomas D. Aaron. You may click on his name or any of his artworks to link directly to his site. I am newly inspired to come up with some ideas for art to hang in our library.  I had originally wanted to decorate that room with maps, because The Don  loves maps.  He also loves art, and once the room was complete, it seemed to call out for more contemporary decor. For some reason, I never considered marrying the ideas of contemporary abstract art with maps, but as you can see from Aaron's art, it works beautifully. 


  1. Good advice. It's negative people that I don't like to be around. Pollyannas brighten everyone's life imo.

  2. Thanks, John! I like to think so. You know what I'd like to see? A blog which shows your photography. I really enjoyed that.

  3. Yay! I love Pollyannas! When someone complains about them, I say it's not that Pollyannas don't see the ugly, or the pain, they just find a way to rise above it. I've had people complain about me seeing the life lesson in everything lol. Apparently growth and happiness are not worth pursuing. Don't worry be happy I say.


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