Pollyanna positivity?

By Dave Henning / July 10, 2023

“I’m not advocating Pollyanna positivity.  We need a negative feedback loop to survive.  Without it, we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  But we need a positive feedback loop to thrive.  Simply put, celebrate what you want to see more of.”- Mark Batterson

“Do not let an unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”- Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

In Chapter 4 (“Wash Feet”) of Please Sorry Thanks, Mark Batterson observes that, until the age of twelve, most of us feel good about ourselves.  But during our teen years, our self-esteem drops to it’s lowest levels.  There’s good news, though.  After that, our self-esteem gradually increases until the age of seventy.

And this trend associates with the psychology of please.  Because how you feel about yourself serves as a function of how you treat others.  In addition, Pastor Batterson sees a third dimension to the Great Commandment. One that people often overlook.  Thus, Mark calls our attention to this nuanced phrase: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Also, Mark notes the tendency to negatively compare ourselves with others.  It’s called upward counterfactual thinking — and it never goes away.  Yet, the author wonders, why do we spend so much time and energy consuming social media content when it impacts us in such a negative way?

The answer, Mark states, involves a phenomenon called doomscrolling, which he defines as an ever-increasing appetite for doom and gloom.  Negative news functions as a psychological draw — like moths to a flame.

In conclusion, Pastor Batterson cautions:

“Headlines that use negative words like bad or worst are 30 percent more effective at arresting attention than headlines with positive words.  And the click-through rate is more than 60 percent higher.  That negativity bias is a bigger deal than we realize.  It was a negative news report that kept Israel out of the Promised Land.  Ten negative people set a nation back forty years.”

Today’s question: Do you ever engage in Pollyanna positivity?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Revelation or regurgitation?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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