By Mary Flom
The Pollyanna Hypothesis
The Huffington Post put out an article some time ago titled The Science Behind Why Hope Can Help Heal Us. In it they referred to two researchers, Boucher and Osgood, who created “The Pollyanna Hypothesis.” (Pollyanna is a Disney film from 1960 that tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who changed a town with her positivity and hopeful attitude).
“Their research included small-scale, cross-cultural studies, which suggested that a universal positivity bias exists in human communication. They uncovered evidence that positive words are not only prevalent but have a significant impact and ability to shape our thinking and behaviors in a positive direction.”
The article provided more research and more examples to make it’s point and it concluded with this: “We don’t need scientific studies to prove to use the inestimable value of having, sustaining and sharing hope.” It’s true. We see this in our relationships, in our families, in our jobs, in our struggles, and in our humanity. Hope changes things which is why it’s important that we get our hopes up and keep them up!
Here are 5 ways to get your hopes up:
Be habitually thankful.
Come up with a plan for you to practice thankfulness every week or even every day. It’s easy for us to get lost in the cycle of never enough. You may even be at the lowest point in your life, but even so I bet there is at least one thing you can be thankful for. Say it out loud and repeat until you believe it. Next time you practice this, try and think of two things. Habits are formed after repetition and practice. So start practicing!
Find a hope buddy.
I am sure all of us can think of someone we know who is the epitome of positivity. They rarely have anything negative to say and when faced with a challenging situation, their first thought is a positive one. Hang out with this person. Observe them and even ask them for some advice about how they stay so positive. Being around hopeful people will give you hope. I promise.
Purge the negativity.
Even with all of the hope flying around there will still be times where you need to vent and process through feelings that are of the negative nature. That is OK and super normal. You need an outlet to get it out of your system so you can return to happy thoughts. For some people that is journaling. Journaling can be a powerful way to release those thoughts and feelings. Some other ways are exercise, crafting/art, or other hobby. Find something that will work for you.
Know your triggers.
Your trigger may be a person, it may be a certain time of a day, it may be a place, it may be social media or any number of activities that you do throughout the day. Maybe you notice yourself feeling sad and down after you’ve done your afternoon stroll through Instagram. Have you ever examined why that is? Did you see something that made you go to a negative place? That’s a trigger. Knowing is half the battle. You don’t have to cut Instagram out of your life. Maybe set some good boundaries for it so you can avoid the Instagram blues. The same goes for any of your other triggers. If your trigger is a person and it’s not someone that you can avoid, it may be time to have a brave conversation and deal with the root of the issue.
Don’t be shy!
Let your friends and family know about your new found sense of hopefulness. This will help you stay accountable and it may open some doors for you in your community. You may find people who are on a similar journey and you may even inspire others to join you.
Get your hopes up today and every day until it’s not something you have to think about. You’re in control of your hope tank. It’s up to you. I’ll leave you with this quote from poet Chad Sugg:
If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.