I’ve been called lots of names in my day (many not suitable for printing in this fine, upstanding, family publication), but one that I don’t take offense to is “Pollyanna.”
In the 1913 children’s book Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna was known for always looking on the bright side and playing what she called the “Glad Game,” where she challenged herself to find the good in every situation.
While it’s important to always count our blessings and look for the silver lining in a situation, I realize that living with a Pollyanna can also be a little annoying. I mean, who wants to hear, as their bedroom ceiling is caving in, “But look! Now we can see the beautiful stars at night!” But, alas, that’s kind of how my brain is wired and it’s both a gift and a curse.
My Pollyanna propensities have also carried over into my parenting style, for better or for worse. My poor kids. I can’t count how many times they’ve come to me with a hardship — a scrape on the knee, or a bombed math quiz, and my response is, “Well, it could’ve been worse, right?” That response is oftentimes my way of getting them to find the silver lining in a disappointing situation, or simply to take their mind off of it.
However, if ever there was a year that most of us are happy to see go (even this self-prescribed Pollyanna), it is 2020. Amid a devastating virus, I worked hard to play the Glad Game, as much as possible. I am certain that 2020 wasn’t all bad and I plan to reflect upon and celebrate every small achievement that it brought.
At the beginning of 2020, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, which just never seem to motivate or inspire me anyway, I decided instead to compile a list of all of my accomplishments (large and small) from 2019. I included such things as personal relationships that had improved over the course of the year. I checked the stats on my fitness tracker and logged how many miles I had walked with the dog over the course of 2019. I noted personal growth that I was proud of and new skills and hobbies that I had acquired. Instead of trying to force myself to come up with lofty, often unattainable goals for the new year, it was much more satisfying to see my accomplishments from the past year and it inspired and motivated me much more than making resolutions.
I plan to do the same at the beginning of 2021 and, while my 2020 accomplishments probably won’t be quite as outstanding, or include quite the travel and professional development as the year before, it was not without triumph.
I hope that you, too, entertain a little of your inner Pollyanna, and find the unexpected good that came from a year of much fear, hardship, and disappointment. I hope that we all can reflect on 2020 and embrace it for what it was and dream for what 2021 can be.