Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

Recently I was reading an article and the researchers explained that self-compassion is not, “merely a ‘Pollyanish’ form of thinking.” They were using “Pollyanish” as an informal way to say that self-compassion is not foolish.

Merriam-Webster defines Pollyanna as: a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. They explain that the term was used in the early 1920s referring to Pollyanna, the young heroine of the 1913 novel Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter. As the slang became more popular, the author later defended her work by stating, “I have never believed that we ought to deny discomfort and pain and evil; I have merely thought that it is far better to ‘greet the unknown with a cheer.'”

While the label Pollyanna or Pollyanish isn’t necessarily used as a compliment, we recognize the benefits of positive thinking. Research shows that positive people have better physical well-being and an increased lifespan. They have lower rates of depression and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Positive people have better coping skills during times of stress.

So why the criticism of Pollyanna? A main problem is when people insist on only allowing positivity. Stephanie Preston, University of Michigan Ann Arbor psychologist explains that toxic positivity is, “when people are forced to seem or be positive in situations where it’s not natural” or people don’t acknowledge or “deal with the fact that there is distress or need”. It’s not an all or nothing.

Being called a “Pollyanna” really isn’t an insult especially if you temper the positive with other realities. A recent paper advocated using, “positive psychology practices to be part of a multi-disciplinary approach.” They went on to explain that not only can we build on positive emotions but we can also build up our self-compassion and the capacity to cope with challenges. If we insist or rely only on positivity, we won’t allow ourselves – or others – time to experience other emotions or chances to learn and grow through struggles.

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County


Barlage, L. (2019). The power of positivity. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/12/30/the-power-of-positivity/

Carter, S. (2021). Overcoming Pandemic Paralysis. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/28/overcoming-pandemic-paralysis/

Graham, R. (2013, Feb 26). How we all became Pollyannas (and why we should be glad about it). The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/02/how-we-all-became-pollyannas-and-why-we-should-be-glad-about-it/273323/

Neff, K, Kirkpatrick, K., and Rude, S. (2006). Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning. Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 139–154. Retrieved from https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/JRP.pdf

Marsh, J. (2012). The power of self-compassion. Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_power_of_self_compassion

Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. (nd). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

Stillman, J. (2020). ‘Toxic Positivity’ is a thing. A lot of us are experiencing it now. Psychology, University of Michigan. Retrieved from: https://lsa.umich.edu/psych/news-events/all-news/faculty-news/-toxic-positivity–is-a-thing–a-lot-of-us-are-experiencing-it-n.html  

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3846351163_a4fd09c8da_mIt seems to be a trending topic, and one with real implications.  Now more than ever, we are realizing that when a person is hungry, he or she may have a lesser control on emotions and the actions that accompany the feelings.  #Hangry, and the meaning behind it, is popping up everywhere from candy bar commercials to memes on Instagram and Facebook.

A recent research study posted online at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences relays that spouses were more likely to show higher levels aggression towards their wife or husband at times when their blood sugar levels were low.  An interesting model, the anger was measured with pins in voo doo dolls and blasting noise into headphones in accordance with the amount of fury being felt.  Haven’t many of us imaginarily wished we had a voo doo doll once or twice in our lives?

Knowing that communication and the emotions that are involved lead to positive or very negative outcomes that affect many, with guidance from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics here are 5 Tips for Preventing the Hangry Dilemma:

  1. Eat regularly scheduled light meals and snacks that include a variety of protein, fat and carbohydrate sources.
  2. Limit empty calorie foods that are mainly simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, and saturated or trans fats.
  3. Choose whole grains more often along with other high fiber foods like beans, vegetables, and nuts.
  4. Plan ahead by making a shopping list that you will stick to and a weekly menu that will lessen spur of the moment stops for fast-food.
  5. Maintain an active lifestyle replenishing your body with healthy foods such as fruits, yogurt, and low-fat granola and beverages such as water and milk.

Author:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Jamie Seger, Program Director, Ohio State University Extension, seger.23@osu.edu

Sources:  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/diabetes-and-diet

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, http://www.pnas.org/content/111/17/6254.full

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French fries are my vice. No matter how many are served, I will finish them regardless of whether I am full. Afterwards I feel defeated and ashamed. I start out with the best intentions, but then feel powerless. Can it be possible to win against this and other “uncontrollable” behaviors?


Dr. Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, calls foods high in sugar, fat, and salt rewarding foods. They stimulate the reward center of the brain, the same area associated with drugs and gambling. Just like drugs and gambling, these foods can become an obsession (albeit to a lesser extent). This reward system was beneficial because historically people ate food to sustain life and provide fuel for their bodies. But today people eat because they are “told” to eat by outside influence; these influences are known as cues or action triggers. These action triggers may tell you that you are hungry even though you have just finished eating.

Many of the reasons for overeating extend beyond simply not having the will power to choose the “right foods.” It is not a matter of you failing; it is understanding behaviors and how to change them. With some time and effort, you can eliminate the behaviors you do not want and encourage those you do. To change behaviors:

†  Make affirmations

†  Identify your cues

†  Change your environment

†  Stay positive

An affirmation is a positive declaration stating your intention to change. This prepares you to make a change in your life by consciously writing it down and making it concrete. It should be placed somewhere it can be read daily to remind yourself of your desire to change.

The next step is to identify your cues. These are specific to you and take some effort to manage. Action triggers take many forms and can be very discrete. Once you identify what is cueing your eating behavior, you can change your environment by removing/avoiding these cues.

Typically your environment determines your actions. For example, if you go out to lunch with overeaters it is far more likely you will overeat. Once you determine your temptations, find a more positive environment for change. Surrounding yourself with positive, healthy, fit people and environments will increase your chances of success and provide support when you need it!

Finally, you want to associate positive emotions with the desired behavior. Entering the environment with a positive attitude and confidence will make it more likely you will perform and maintain the behavior. If you correlate encouraging feelings with a behavior or environment, these feelings will stimulate the reward center in your brain, making the new behavior rewarding and keep you coming back!

Prepared by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, FCS,  OSU Extension Wood County, Erie Basin EERA and Ryan Leone,  OSU Extension, Wood County.

Reviewed by: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D.Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed,OSU Extension, West Region


Kessler D. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. New York, NY: Rodale Books; 2009.


Wansink, B. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. New York, NY: Bantam Books; 2006.

Eyles BJ. Fitness Behavior [podcast on the internet]. Christchurch, New Zealand; 2010 [updated 2013 Sept 17; cited 2013 Oct 11]. Available from: http://bevanjameseyles.com/fitness-behavior.

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