Mainer building positive attitudes globally

Posted Oct. 19, 2010, at 6:21 p.m.

ROBBINSTON, Maine — Lanette Pottle knows that life’s journey often takes unplanned detours. She’s clearly aware that the glass is often half-full and that the light at the tunnel can sometimes seem pretty dim.

But when times get tough, Pottle has a guiding premise: Don’t stay there. Ask yourself how you can move through this.

To promote this attitude, Pottle has formed Positivity Nation, an online group that in just a few months has gathered followers in 49 states and 62 countries. During a recession, when hard times are common, Pottle said people need positivity more than ever.

“My vision was to create an epidemic of positivity,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s a concept that has caught on to inspire not just words, but actions.”

Positivity Nation uses Facebook to reach more than 2,000 fans, providing a daily quote and, throughout the day, comments about keeping positive, such as:

“Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. — Virginia Satir.”

“It’s ironic that Facebook sometimes has such a negative image,” Pottle said. “Here is an example of turning that around to create a positive movement.”

“Life is not roses and sunshine all the time,” Pottle said. “The daily quote is intended to inspire people to get through and past these trials.”

On its site, Positivity Nation also offers A Year in Positive Action, which provides a long-term plan for staying upbeat. Pottle is also bringing her message of positivity to local schools and working with teachers to set up a curriculum. A special rejuvenation retreat is also in the planning stages, as is an e-zine, an online magazine.

The daily quotes, however, remain the heart of the project. “I’ve had people tell me that a specific quote changed their life,” Pottle said.

“These are messages that people need,” she said. “They reflect that it’s all about how you deal with the negative.”

Pottle said she is not a Pollyanna-type personality that doesn’t acknowledge life’s realities. A human resources manager for Hannaford of Machias, Pottle is a wife and mother of a blended family of five — once a teenage mom who is still working on her college degree.

“I’ve personally had bad experiences that felt like they were draining the life out of me,” she said, “and I didn’t like the person I was becoming.”

But after participation in a Washington County Leadership Institute program and a powerful meeting in Boston with Jack Canfield — the founder of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series — Pottle embarked on her effort.

“I started with one quote and it just grew,” she said.

This attitude of gratitude first began on April 1 on Facebook. Quotes have come daily ever since — from Helen Keller to Dr. Seuss. The first? “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are all in harmony. — Gandhi.”

Pottle said part of the movement is incorporating new goals and investing in gratitude. “Start a gratitude journal,” she suggested. “Write down three things every day that you are grateful for. It can be very powerful. Take 21 days to build a habit, and gratitude will become a lifestyle. I guarantee you will begin to look at the world differently.”

Pottle advises that small steps forward are better than no steps at all.

“Sometimes we can get paralyzed by something huge,” she said. “But then we overlook some small effort we can make to create an impact.”

Her mantra is: “I am only one. But I am one,” she said.

One of her quotes is by Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

“When I work in the schools,” Pottle said, “I am not going to make a difference in the educational crisis. But I can make a difference in my local school.”

Pottle said by concentrating on positivity, people can change their lives. “If you help others, it helps you,” she said.

She referred to another quote, this one by Bob Moawad: “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”

Pottle added, “You can’t change someone else. You can only change yourself. Then you can become the model. Happiness is contagious but so is negativity. Which epidemic do you want to be part of?”

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