Problems or Opportunities? Pollyanna or Pragmatist?
It seems that everywhere one turns today there are problems. Problems in the world such as global warming, terrorism, inflation, crime, and so forth with so many etc. , etc. , etceteras that one is reminded of the classic movie “The King and I. ” The list is long and to many, very depressing. It may surprise you, it has me, but one of the most popular new search terms emerging recently is “anxiety. ” There is a unspoken but deep feeling of anxiousness among many today and there is no end to the so-called cures offered in the market place for this guttural discomfort that can nag at one waking them from sleep and disturbing their day time activities with just some indefinite but uncomfortable feeling.
Why the anxiety? One could easily suggest a myriad of reasons albeit the most important feature of anxiety is the sense of or lack of control and the perceived need to somehow take a hold of the stimulus or stimuli and direct the potential outcome. Alas, the anxiety persists chiefly when one is unable to affect the stimuli in any real way. So, global warming, terrorism, inflation and other economic concerns, shortages, and other doom and gloom forecasts, thoughts, etc. are not the “stuff” that the average individual can directly effect.
Like the ocean, anxious feelings tend to have crests and troughs and come in waves that propagate each other. Escaping this pattern requires a new perspective. There are many alternatives but essentially they come down to just two. The first is somehow finding something that one can do that minimizes the power of the stimuli. So, if you’re powerful enough to persuade the world to eliminate the causes of global warming then you can minimize the power of this stimulus if not destroy its grip all together. The second option is to simply attend to that which we can and let go of that which is beyond our control. This so-called “let go and let God, ” has been referred to by some as a Pollyanna perspective that is solipsist. (I am using the word God here in the sense Wayne Dyer approaches the Source and that is as the Grand Organizing Designer—GOD).
The term Pollyanna comes from the heroine of a novel by the same name by Eleanor Porter. In general terms it is used to describe an irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. A solipsist in its strict sense is a person that maintains the self can know nothing but its own modifications. To some thinkers this translates into egocentrism, a sort of self as the only existent thing. However, if the notion of self-modification is viewed from the perspective that each of us knows ourselves, our history, our changes, our fears, our limitations and so forth, then from this perspective one can easily step up to the proverbial plate and admit that they are not in control of the future or any other stimuli that is otherwise out of their control. For many, the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear, does it make a sound?” is answered by the quantum physics perspective that suggests without consciousness there is nothing. In other words, remove the someone to hear and there is no sound for there is no tree. In this sense, our reality is one that is created by each of us in many more ways than most might have thought. This too can be taken as rather solipsist.
The great philosopher psychologist William James had a better term and that is “pragmatic. ” The word originates from the Greek meaning officious and pertaining to matters of fact and practical affairs. James used this word to set apart the practical from the idealistic. In good old country talk, the meaning goes like this, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ” The pragmatic view is one of what works. The fact of the matter is letting go and letting God works! Now saying this and doing it are not necessarily the same thing so let’s look at a couple of quick, painless and easy ways by which we can all let go—including let go of anxiety.
First, begin your day with a simple thank you. Acknowledge but for a moment that all that you have, all that you are, is a gift. The new day is a gift. Accept the gift with gratitude. Take that gratitude attitude like a sincere Pollyanna into your day, knowing that all that comes to you does so for some higher good. So-called problems are really opportunities in disguise. These opportunities assist us in our personal growth. From them we become better people.
Second, forgive—forgive yourself, forgive all others and accept the worthiness to be forgiven. When some fearful or angry thought enters you mind, bless it. Give it love—all the love you can. You’ll probably find that a smile strangely wanders onto your face—the whole idea of blessing those that we blame is so counter intuitive to the way most are raised that I cannot overstate the power of this simple practice. While you’re smiling, realize that the simple act of smiling turns certain neuro-chemicals on in the brain. In other words, the act of smiling tells the brain life is good and the brain says in neuro-chemical, “Great—it’s feel good time!” and pumps some good old feel good chemicals through our bodies. So, if you don’t naturally smile when you do your blessing (forgiving) then fake it “till you make it. (Remember, you can obtain a free copy of our Forgiving and Letting Go program, one per customer please, by ordering it on tape or CD at our website: www.innertalk.com).
Third, let go. Let go and let God. Do what you can do and let God do the rest. When I have suggested this in the past I have been asked, how? How do I know what I can do? There is a sense that there is nothing that I can do and you have pointed this out, so what is it that I am to do? Here is the answer. Short and sweet—do a good deed for someone else. Go to the aid of another. Help someone in some small way. Help someone that may never expect you to give them aid of any kind. Give someone a smile, a compliment; add some give good feelings to others repertoire to your acumen of abilities and watch the world around you change. Helping others is our ultimate mission in some manner or another. The purpose driven life could be summed up without sermons as one aiding others to the best of our abilities.
The bottom line, help others. It is after all only a slight shift in perspective that changes everything one does from a purely selfish act to one that has the best interest of all at heart, whether in our vocations or avocations. In short, and in the words of A. Lawrence Lowel, “Anyone who sees in his own occupation merely a means of earning money degrades it; but he that sees in it a service to mankind ennobles both his labor and himself. "
Eldon Taylor is the author of hundreds of self-help articles, books, tapes and video programs. His awards include the 2005 International Peace Prize awarded by the United Cultural Convention. His vitae may be found in over a dozen Who's Who publications including the Who's Who of Intellectuals. For more information about Eldon and his programs or philosophy, visit http://www.innertalk.com