THE BLOG
01/19/2016 01:08 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2017

A Successful New You in 2016: Hopeful, Confident, Pollyanna on Steroids

Eyecandy Images via Getty Images

I can't tell you how many times I've been called a Pollyanna. I remember the first time I decided to get a book I'd written published: I blithely sent the manuscript to 35 top-notch publishers, figuring someone would fall in love with it, and bingo! I'd be a published author. People told me I was nuts, nobody publishes an unknown (so how does anyone get published the first time, I wondered?), and my manuscript would hit the circular file faster than you can say "Reject!"

They were right. Thirty-four publishers shined me on, with varying degrees of politeness. But one publisher contacted me and said (roughly): "You can't write worth spit. But we like your idea, so we're going to assign you to an editor, and IF you come up with a Chapter 1 that we like, we'll consider publishing you. Maybe. BIG maybe."

Once again, people said, "It'll never happen! It's pie in the sky. Get your head out of the clouds and get real: they'll probably just take your idea and have some established writer work on it. If they were even telling truth about your idea in the first place."

Only this time they were wrong. The editor guided me superbly, the publishers were happy, and voila! My first published book. But here's the thing: what most people don't know about Pollyanna--if you go back and read the original story--is that Pollyanna thrived. She is the quintessential optimist, and as the research shows repeatedly: optimists--people who adopt a hopeful, confident attitude about the future--are happier, live longer, and age well.

So why don't we all adopt a hopeful, confident attitude about our future? Why don't we aim for our dreams more often, believing they can become real? Because we're fearful about our survival (mental, emotional, physical) on a very primitive gut level. We hedge our bets. We don't want to be disappointed, or disappoint others. We don't want to risk failure.

Imagine the conversation between the Wright brothers: "Fly? In the sky? Watcha been smokin' bro?" (OK, so maybe not smokin'--whatever the 1905 equivalent was) "Yeah, you're right. I don't know what I was thinking." Or Thomas Edison, on his 900th failed attempt to create a light bulb: "Ah, forget about it. Who'd want to rig up all those wires anyway?"

Without the Wright brothers' invention of aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible, you wouldn't be flying off to visit Mom/your sweetheart/best friend, with your headphones blasting the latest Adele wonder, as you text instructions to your dog sitter. Heck, without Edison's invention of the light bulb, you wouldn't even be able to find your headphones.

Pollyanna indeed! Anyone who's ever come up with a way to make things better for themselves or the human race, from the cavemen/women who dared to think "round wheel" or "fire" to your figuring out yet another awesome use for duct tape, has had a streak of Pollyanna in them. A belief that despite all evidence to the contrary, despite past history, despite their personal shortcomings--dreams can come true.

Whether your dream is of earning enough to ditch your cramped apartment for more spacious digs, finding true love, or inventing a game to rival Candy Crush, go for it! Ignore those who tell you to face reality, who tell you all the ways in which you're not good enough/talented enough/smart enough to go after such dreams. Shut your ears to those who tell you, "You must be out of your mind!" and want you to look at all those who tried for a dream and failed.

Surround yourself instead with pictures of those who succeeded, with aphorisms and quotes from those who made their dreams come true, listen only to those around you who support and encourage you, stay true to yourself and your course, and never never forget--Pollyanna thrived!