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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12 Responses to “I’m SUCH a Pollyanna!”

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yes you are!! as you were describing pollyanna, i was thinking err, aren’t you talking about yourself? haha, you were judging someone like you! 😆

Haha, very funny ms. sulz, you got me there. 😳 but,but,but, I don’t want to be uncool, though. 😕 I’m, like, a little bit cool, aren’t I? 8)

you are one of the coolest people i know. yes. *solemnly*

Next time the Hayley Mills Polyanna’s on TV you should check it out. I am the anti-Polyanna and even I like it.

It’s funny, really, how a word can enter our vocabularies without us having a clue what it originally meant. I mean, I’ve never read Pollyanna and never seen the movie, but I’ve heard the expression. I always understood it to mean someone who is more cheerful than they have any right to be, though, which I suppose is the glass half empty way of looking at what you describe. I like your phrasing better!

I used to get so dragged down about things and was always in an off mood. I was doing it to myself. And where did it get me? Stressed, depressed, negative and ailing.

I decided to change my attitude. To become more “Pollyanna” as you said. And I did feel better. Why would anyone choose to feel like that? I don’t let the little things get to me. And am a happier person because of it. I want to feel good. So, I’m with you all the way, Muse. 🙂

I follow the, will this really matter in 5 or 10 years? Is it really that big of a deal? I choose my battles wisely. They have to be worth fighting about.

Not that there aren’t times I fall and slip back into it, but I am more aware that I am allowing myself to be dragged down. No one can make you feel lousy, but yourself.

Like anyone, I can be a witch, (drop the “w”add a capital “B”)I can fight as good as the next person, I can make people feel small. But why would I? To feel superior, or in control? Where does it get you? A simple five minute rush, longer periods of guilt and the fact you have to hurt someone to prove a point. It’s not worth it to me. I want harmony. I won’t be a doormat, though!

I’ve noticed being positive is catchy too. I’ve tried it on a few people in my family, and seriously, it works!

I’ve never read the book, but I will now. Thanks.
Take care, Muse. 🙂

sulz: Whew! I can just see you speaking those words *solemnly* 😛 I sincerely believe you, thanks! 🙂

I believe I shall do that ella, particularly if YOU liked it! 🙂 I have read that this is the film that made Ms. Mills a star, so I’d better check out her performance.

Thanks, B0bby, for your insight, and for re-looking at your own preconceived notions, as I did. Interesting how you put it, that a “polyanna” was more cheerful than they had any right to be. It makes me wonder what it is about our culture that doesn’t give us the “right” to be as cheerful as we like? You’ve got me to think, again! 😉

Wow, what great perspective, BD! I so agree that positivity rubs off upon those around us. It’s so worth trying for that alone. I surely do have my moody and snarky times, too—makes me appreciate my polyanna qualities that much more when they show up again, LOL. You also advise us to lighten up and not take things so seriously. Good method to ask what will still matter, years from now. 🙂

I’m proud to call myself a Pollyanna! wonderful post!

I read Pollyanna when I was young and have seen two movie versions of it and loved all. You are right, if everyone thought like her we would live in a much better world.
BTW, I did the Expansionist Meme. That was a great one.

Alright, CuriousC! Pollyannas of the world unite! Thank you! 🙂

Yes, why not, Joan? Well, we can do it. I’ll go read your meme, now. You always have such interesting things to say in them.

Its a bit like if you help someone you are a do-gooder….people have to bring everything down. I am pretty sure that I read and reread it a lot as a child. Can’t think how many times I read Heidi and Little Women.

Pollyanna, New Thought Practitioner …a children’s classic for today
Cinderella, and Why The Right Shoes Are So Important….a fairy tale’s wisdom for our timees
In case you are wondering if I have lost it.

Oh, yes, Magick, I think Heidi is an excellent role model as well. I always loved how she taught her stuffy family what’s what! There’s something about fairy tales and children’s stories, at least the really good ones. If they’re respectful and treat chidren as if they have brains and ideas and opinions, we can learn a lot from them as adults, too. 😉


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