Millions of people know that a gratitude attitude has powerful benefits for the grateful person and everyone around her. It might even be argued that “Grateful, Thankful, Blessed” is an attitude that is good for the entire planet. But it’s not a popular mainstream subject – just watch or read today’s news and decide if you feel more grateful. Go on. I’ll wait.
Pollyanna To The Rescue
If you decide that you want to be more grateful about the countless blessings in your life, how do you do it? I’ve tried several times keeping a gratitude journal. The trouble is, for me at least, it becomes a chore, homework, a “duty”. There isn’t any joy in it so what’s the point? Pollyanna to the rescue. When gratitude and optimism become a GAME, it’s so much easier. At least it is for me.
Pollyanna And The Glad Game
The original Pollyanna book was written by Eleanor H. Porter and was published in 1913. Pollyanna’s mother died at an early age and her father died when she was 11. Her only relative is her stern and joyless aunt Polly who doesn’t really want to raise her orphaned niece, but feels it is her ‘duty’. Polly is a wealthy woman with a beautiful home, yet she puts Pollyanna in at attic room that has no carpet, decorations or even screens on the windows to relieve the stifling summer heat yet keep out the flies. She feels no compassion for an orphaned little girl, although she was named after Aunt Polly and another sister, Anna.
Aunt Polly’s favorite word is “duty” and she plans to raise Pollyanna to be the same way. But she can’t do it because Pollyanna is devoted to the “Glad Game” which was invented by her late father. Let’s let Pollyanna herself explain the game in a dialogue between the optimistic young girl and Nancy, the maid.
= = =
“You don’t seem ter see any trouble bein’ glad about everythin’,” retorted Nancy, choking a little over her remembrance of Pollyanna’s brave attempts to like the bare little attic room.
Pollyanna laughed softly.
“Well, that’s the game, you know, anyway.”
“Yes; the ‘just being glad’ game.”
“Whatever in the world are you talkin’ about?”
“Why, it’s a game. Father told it to me, and it’s lovely,” rejoined Pollyanna. “We’ve played it always, ever since I was a little, little girl. I told the Ladies’ Aid, and they played it–some of them.”
“What is it? I ain’t much on games, though.”
Pollyanna laughed again, but she sighed, too; and in the gathering twilight her face looked thin and wistful.
“Why, we began it on some crutches that came in a missionary barrel.”
“Yes. You see I’d wanted a doll, and father had written them so; but when the barrel came the lady wrote that there hadn’t any dolls come in, but the little crutches had. So she sent ’em along as they might come in handy for some child, sometime. And that’s when we began it.”
“Well, I must say I can’t see any game about that,” declared Nancy, almost irritably.
“Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about–no matter what ’twas,” rejoined Pollyanna, earnestly. “And we began right then–on the crutches.”
“Well, goodness me! I can’t see anythin’ ter be glad about–gettin’ a pair of crutches when you wanted a doll!”
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
“There is–there is,” she crowed. “But _I_ couldn’t see it, either, Nancy, at first,” she added, with quick honesty. “Father had to tell it to me.”
“Well, then, suppose YOU tell ME,” almost snapped Nancy.
“Goosey! Why, just be glad because you don’t–NEED–‘EM!” exulted Pollyanna, triumphantly. “You see it’s just as easy–when you know how!”
“Well, of all the queer doin’s!” breathed Nancy, regarding Pollyanna with almost fearful eyes.
“Oh, but it isn’t queer–it’s lovely,” maintained Pollyanna enthusiastically. “And we’ve played it ever since. And the harder ’tis, the more fun ’tis to get ’em out; only–only sometimes it’s almost too hard–like when your father goes to Heaven, and there isn’t anybody but a Ladies’ Aid left.”
You see, when you’re hunting for the glad things, you sort of forget the other kind–like the doll you wanted, you know.”
“Humph!” choked Nancy, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.
= = =
The Gratitude Attitude and Punishment From Aunt Polly
Aunt Polly definitely believes in punishment for misbehavior. But she becomes very frustrated with Pollyanna because, since she constantly plays the Glad Game, she refuses to be punished. For example, the first day Pollyanna was in her household, the little girl climbed out a tree and went outside to explore. Dinner in the household is served precisely at 6PM and she wasn’t at the table on time. So Aunt Polly decrees that as punishment, she must eat only bread and milk and eat in the kitchen with Nancy. How did that work out as ‘punishment’?
= = =
“I’m very sorry, Pollyanna, to have been obliged to send you into the kitchen to eat bread and milk.”
“But I was real glad you did it, Aunt Polly. I like bread and milk, and Nancy, too. You mustn’t feel bad about that one bit.”
Aunt Polly sat suddenly a little more erect in her chair.
= = =
HOW can you punish someone who refuses to suffer?
So Grateful & Immune to Pessimists
There are many people who are cynical, ‘sophisticated’, hold views based on ‘reality’, and who sneer at people like me who look for the best in life. I am not bothered by such folks. I look for the best and play the Glad Game constantly and allow others to suffer, if that is their will. So if YOU are afraid of being laughed at, don’t be. Follow Pollyanna’s spirit and look for reasons to be glad all day long. For what is being glad but another name for gratitude?
Read part 2 of our article on Pollyanna and The Glad Game here