Archive for June 11th, 2008

I’m SUCH a Pollyanna!

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: Health, Musings, Spirituality |

Be Glad!

Recently my dear friend asked me to write something “upbeat” for an organizational newsletter. Last time he did this, he also suggested I comment on a fairy tale’s wisdom for our times. After that, I vowed never to let him dictate my topic choice in the future. The following is proof of the inadvisability of saying “never”….

“Why don’t you write about….
[”No”, I shrieked, covering my ears and singing “la,la,la”….]
…Pollyanna”!
“What”? I said, uncovering my ears in dismay. “Not that little ‘goody-goody’ girl”!

Well, I won’t report the entire conversation, as it disintegrated from there. It turns out, though, that I had never actually read the story of Pollyanna, and realizing I was judging something “I knew not of”, I set out to do just that. Synchronistically, I saw in the television listings that public television was planning to air a film version of Pollyanna the very next week! I was hooked. The topic was set.

As a child, I’d often heard people say about someone “Oh, s/he’s SUCH a ‘Pollyanna’” in dismissive, sometimes even sarcastic tones. I got the impression that not only was Pollyanna a “goody-goody”, but she was even sickeningly sweet. People would use the term ”a Pollyanna” as if it were naive and silly to be an optimist, to see the good in things. She certainly–and this was a huge putdown at the time–was ”uncool”.

For my latest exercise in suspending judgment, I borrowed the book from my local library (Pollyanna, by Eleanor Hodgman Porter, 1913), and later watched the PBS film. I won’t give away the story, but it seems that Miss Pollyanna is very much an early 20th century New Thought practitioner!

The gist of her philosophy is: “In any situation, you can always find SOMETHING to be glad about”. We are constantly told to “look for the good”. If more of us did that, more of the time, we’d truly transform the world. Her story really isn’t the least bit “sissy” or “goody-goody” as she slowly helps to transform the lives of those around her, after experiencing real tragedy in her own.

As I read (and by the way, very much enjoyed) Pollyanna, I decided to do my best to always find something to be glad about. I feel blessed that, in my life, this is a pretty easy task. Thank you, Pollyanna.

[Note: there is a sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up, in which she does just that while facing some new and surprising challenges. Both books are in the public domain and can be downloaded at the Gutenberg Project]
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