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Miss W's blog

The Glad Game

Our blogger Miss W looks on the bright side of life, taking inspiration from the dog-eared pages of one of her favourite childhood novels.

A helpful way to help navigate your way through the deep dark recesses of social media without losing your sanity, courtesy of a freckle-faced little guru (no, not our blogger Miss W) who knew the secret to surviving tough times all came down to a positive attitude.

Over the past few months, I’ve done my very best not to go down the slippery slope of spending hours lost on/in social media. Given the year we’ve experienced, it’s not surprising at all that people are spending more time ‘socialising’ online – for a while there, what choice did we have? – but I can’t help but notice that the type of unsolicited comments people post on public forums tend to lean towards the negative side of the spectrum. I know, I know, everyone is entitled to freedom of speech but when I realised that my own mood was being affected by what I was reading, I also knew the easiest way to avoid that was to direct my attention elsewhere.

Sure, I still scroll through my feeds a couple of times a day (I’m only human), I check in on certain groups for info and assistance (shout out to all The Real Ibiza Residents and thank you Lesley Donald for posting all the need-to-know COVID info every damn day since March – you deserve a medal!), and I select my news sources wisely. Even when limiting my time online however, it’s still hard to completely avoid everything that triggers you on social media (for me it’s pro-Trumpers, anti-vaxxers, fake-pedo-hunters, blatant racists, constant-complainers, anti-clubbing evangelists, conspiracy nut jobs, aggressive Ibiza know-it-alls among others – you can see why i find it hard to navigate!), so I came up with a trick that helps me turn my attention elsewhere when I feel myself getting sucked into the vortex…

Now, before anyone points it out – I know the obvious solution would be to unfollow those who provoke me, but sometimes (in my opinion, not all the time, but definitely sometimes) it’s worth keeping your eye on the general mood and vibe in your community, or amongst your online friends. The old saying keep your friends close and your (fr)enemies closer springs to mind. So, instead of getting all worked up by threads created by people I’ve never even met or paying too much attention to all the negative energy that dominates so many online spaces, I simply decided to look for the good in everything – a bit like Pollyanna’s ‘Glad Game’. Turn that frown upside down. Always look on the bright side of life. Make the most of what you’ve got. Gratitude is an attitude. You get my drift…

I think I was probably around seven or eight years old when I first read the 1913 novel Pollyanna, and its sequel Pollyanna Grows Up. Despite my own propensity to complain or be sarcastic, the concept of the Glad Game stuck with me throughout my entire life and has helped me through countless situations. Still, I could never have imagined I’d be referencing it a few decades later, smack bang in the middle of a global pandemic. But here we are! Obviously, at the time the books were written, perky little Pollyanna had no idea that the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was just around the corner – I wonder what she would have made of that! Anyway, as usual… I digress.

Putting a positive spin on things isn’t always easy at the start. First of all, you (well, when I say you, I mean me) really have to wonder why you feel so triggered by certain people, or certain opinions that aren’t aligned with your (and again, I mean mine) own. It can be difficult to discover that perhaps you aren’t really as open-minded as you once thought; it can be equally as challenging to find that friends you thought you knew very well are actually operating with a fundamentally different life philosophy. I’ve learned to accept that every time I make a snap judgement about someone (‘OMG can you believe she thinks we are going to have 5G robots activated in our blood?’), that same person could be making a snap judgement about me in reverse (‘OMG can you believe she is gullible enough to believe what a doctor tells her?’). Live and let live has certainly gotten a lot trickier lately – but we should still be GLAD that we are free to have our own opinions.

Once you’re over that hurdle, it gets a lot easier. The more you start looking for the positive things in life, the more you’ll see and feel them – that’s my experience anyway. It’s a skill that gets easier with time and practice. In the words of Pollyanna: ‘There is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.’ And on that note… below are some of the things that I’ve noticed in Ibiza while looking on the bright side recently. Side note: In line with my positive perky Pollyanna attitude, I’ve intentionally left out the negative trigger element that led me to discover the good news. No point dwelling on anything bad – high vibes all round!

  • Some generous local restaurants have been sending hundreds of meals to the staff at the Ibiza hospitals, as a thank you for their tireless and brave work.
  • A return to empathy, as neighbours, who may never have known each other’s names just a year ago, are now regularly checking in on each other’s health and wellbeing.
  • Island residents are making a big effort to support their local shops and farmers – from fresh produce and beauty products to Christmas decorations, hand-made masks and so much more.
  • A barter community has been established amongst like-minded residents, who are now swapping their skills or trades for household appliances, home-made meals, fresh fruit and veggies, furniture and clothing.
  • Ibiza kids are adapting and evolving – but not complaining – about the changes to their school and social lives.
  • Adults are retraining and discovering a whole new set of skills or talents they didn’t realise they possessed before. For some, it’s a whole new lease on life – not to mention economic survival.
  • Residents are complying with the obligatory mask-wearing, showing much respect for the elderly and at-risk communities, healthcare and frontline workers and friends and family.
  • Everything is generally much cleaner and more hygienic. There can’t be anything wrong with cleaner tables and freshly washed hands!
  • More people are joining gyms and yoga studios (within the socially distanced regulations of course), or are out hiking, running and biking in the great outdoors, boosting their immunity and in general improving their health and fitness levels.
  • From coast to coast, the island’s sea water is the most crystal clear it’s been in years, filled with fish and turtles and still tempting enough to take a dip in December.
  • Police officers are using their powers for good – taking the time to be kind to little kids in the street, being understanding to those in need, and lenient on those who accidentally (genuinely) break the rules around curfew and mask-wearing.
  • There’s a renewed sense of hope among business owners, with the news of a COVID-19 vaccine stimulating anticipation for the summer 2021 season.
  • Islanders are adapting to the temporary local curfews – going out earlier, eating earlier and returning home earlier – in order to support those restaurants and bars who remain open.
  • The introduction of mandatory testing to enter Spain is making it so much easier for people to safely visit their loved ones over the holiday season.
  • People from all walks of life are getting involved (as volunteers or through donations) with the mammoth charity efforts to help feed those who are hungry in Ibiza, and to donate gifts to children who otherwise might have missed out on a visit from Santa this year. And on that note…
  • Christmas is still on! Hello blue-lit tree on Vara de Rey; hola sparkly fairy lights; welcome back market stalls and a socially distanced ho ho ho to good old Santa, who’s probably quite happy not to have to have hundreds of kids sit on his knee this festive season!

Now, I’m not saying life as we know it right now is easy. I’m not saying looking for the good, or expressing some gratitude, is the failsafe solution to the problems society is facing on a global scale. BUT IT HELPS. After all, it can be hard enough to live life, to act normal, to do your job (if you have one), to parent your children (if you have them!), to be a loving partner, a good friend, a good pet owner, to socialise safely and to shine your light towards the proverbial end of the tunnel while there’s an overarching air of sadness around us. It’s even harder if you’re also losing sleep while worrying about what other people think or say on the internet. But if this year (and Glennon Doyle) has taught us anything, it’s that we can do hard things, so why not do them while channelling a little Pollyanna?

‘Be glad. Be good. Be brave.’ Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna, 1913.