The Pollyanna Tonic
“I have never believed that we ought to deny discomfort and pain and evil; I have merely thought that it is far better to greet the unknown with a cheer.”
“Pollyanna does not pretend everything is sugar-coated goodness but she is positively determined to find the good in every situation.”
Both quotes above are by Eleanor H. Porter who wrote the first two Pollyanna books, known as the ‘Glad Books’ because ‘glad’ is Pollyanna’s favourite word. The first book was published in 1913, and was simply titled Pollyanna, the sequel followed in 1915 and was titled Pollyanna grows Up.
In the books (and movies) you will find out about a radical idea or way of looking at life that is called The Glad Game. Simply put it entails finding something about everything to be glad about. It may not be such a new idea. Optimism has always been around it could be argued, just as its opposite, Pessimism has been. Still, it is a highly original take on optimism, and a very practical tool besides.
My chief interests are the two books and the 1960 film for which Hayley Mills won an honorary Academy Award for her performance as Pollyanna Whittier.
My chief desire in writing this is that everyone should read these 2 wonderful books, at the least. That is the real tonic; anything I may say here is simply to get you to read those and to find that positive outlook, that cheerfulness in the face of adversity which can help transform our lives and those of others for the better.
Nowadays classics are not children’s first choice in reading matter so it’s up to parents and friends to encourage the reading of the classics, even though they might be a bit more demanding at times (keep a good dictionary handy).
That pain and suffering exists and is inescapable for any human being is a given. I am not proposing, see Eleanor H. Porter’s quotes above, that we should try and escape or run away from suffering; nor that we should seek it out either for that matter but that the trials that we are going to have to go through inevitably can be a means for our growth and betterment, spiritually-speaking.
That being cheerful in the face of adversity is indeed a tall order is not going to be disputed by me. To be cheerful in general is actually difficult and rare. To be so when all you want to do is swap bodies with someone healthier is a far more demanding exercise, and is in my opinion ultimately impossible without divine assistance.
I do not wish to dwell too much on religious or spiritual matters. They are of utmost importance but it is not my desire to produce a religious work in the Christian tradition. There are also so many views and philosophies from all religions that are highly beneficial that in the end an eclectic piece of writing is going to be the outcome of my efforts.
I am reaching for something a bit more elusive, I think. I want to make you see something that’ll change your life; that’ll mean you’ll never worry again…ever again.
To get ‘there’ you must first be willing; then you’ve got to do the reading; then you’ve got to put what you read into practice. Then you’ve got to persevere when it seems that it’s not going to work, that it’s an impossible thing to expect of anyone. Then you’ve got to spend the rest of your life developing mastery. You’ll probably never reach perfection but it’s demanded that you keep on trying for it, and never give up. You will pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and carry on. And I can promise you that you will change, that you will be stronger and you will know joy and content. You will have changed beyond what you thought possible when you first started out. It is God and His grace that is responsible for this transformation. I must give credit where it is due.
If you can’t find the books they are available at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org for free.