Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pollyanna And The Glad Game

For the last few days I've grown accustomed to listening a recording of "Pollyanna" by the American writer Eleanor Porter before going to sleep at night. I am well past the bedtime stories age, yet something awakened in me these days and I started longing for children's literature and fairytales. I missed them so much but yet, never knew it. Lost in the grown ups world, trying to fix up the universe most of the time, I guess I kind of forgot for a moment or two there about the happiness a little bedtime story can bring.

"Pollyanna" is a beautifully written book that might just bring a smile on your face. The novel revolves around Pollyanna, an 11 years old extraordinary girl and the "glad game" she plays. After her father's death, Pollyanna goes to live with her wealthy but bitter aunt, Miss Polly. Now Miss Polly is a very dutiful woman and a stern disciplinarian who frowns upon open windows and banging doors and is a classic case of a touch-me-not. But Pollyanna has a sunny and irresistible personality and through intelligent dialogue, optimistic attitude and an irrepressible enthusiasm for life she manages to reshape and redesign the lives of the people around her as the aunt and other cynical people soon fall under her upbeat charm.

Pollyanna's philosophy of life centres on what she calls "The Glad Game" an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding a silver lining in the darkest clouds, something in everything to be glad about. Now isn't this a wonderful attitude to have? I don't know about you, but I might just start to play the glad game myself!

Research indicates that, at the unconscious level, our minds have a tendency to focus on the optimistic while, at the conscious level, we have a tendency to focus on the negative. This unconscious bias towards blind or excessive optimism is often described as the Pollyanna principle or Pollyannaism. Now I don't see this quite fair, as Pollyanna is a little girl with her own two feet well on the ground. She is cheerful, all right, and sometimes innocent because of her young age, but labelling compulsive gamblers with the Pollyanna principle might be a little bit too much.

"Pollyanna" was written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter and it suddenly became a best-seller. The sequel, "Pollyanna Grows Up" followed just two years later. Since 1920 "Pollyanna" has been adapted for film several times, the best-known being Disney's version of Pollyanna, starring Hayley Mills. In 2003 another Pollyanna movie was released, starring Amanda Burton. This adaptation stays true to the book, capturing the very spirit held within its covers. Both the Pollyanna ebook and the Pollyanna audiobook are in the public domain. You can download them for free.

Following are some of my favorite quotes from "Pollyanna".

"See here, little girl, we might just as well settle this thing right now, once for all," he began testily. "I've got something besides the weather to think of. I don't know whether the sun shines or not." Pollyanna beamed joyously.
"No, sir; I thought you didn't. That's why I told you."
(Quote from "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter)

"What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened.... Instead of always harping on a man's faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits. Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out!... The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town.... People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. If a man feels kindly and obliging, his neighbors will feel that way, too, before long. But if he scolds and scowls and criticizes—his neighbors will return scowl for scowl, and add interest!... When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that..."
(Quote from "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter)

"Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven't left me any time at all just to—to live."
"To live, child! What do you mean? As if you weren't living all the time!"
"Oh, of course I'd be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean living—doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That's what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn't living!"
(Quote from "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter)

"You lose such a lot of time just sleeping! Don't you think so?"
"Lose time—sleeping!" exclaimed the sick woman.
"Yes, when you might be just living, you know. It seems such a pity we can't live nights, too."
(Quote from "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter)


Justin said...

I love the quotes you've selected. Pollyanna was one of my favorite books as a child and my sister and I played the glad game for a while after reading it. Sweet memories :)

Natalie said...

The part where Pollyanna tells Nancy about the glad game is my favorite. Here's the quote:

For a moment there was silence. The sky was darkening fast. Pollyanna took a firmer hold of her friend's arm.
"I reckon I'm glad, after all, that you DID get scared--a little, 'cause then you came after me," she shivered.
"Poor little lamb! And you must be hungry, too. I--I'm afraid you'll have ter have bread and milk in the kitchen with me. Yer aunt didn't like it--because you didn't come down ter supper, ye know."
"But I couldn't. I was up here."
"Yes; but--she didn't know that, you see!" observed Nancy, dryly, stifling a chuckle. "I'm sorry about the bread and milk; I am, I am."
"Oh, I'm not. I'm glad."
"Glad! Why?"
"Why, I like bread and milk, and I'd like to eat with you. I don't see any trouble about being glad about that."
"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, 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."

Jenny said...

What an extraodinary book indeed! :) I absolutely adore Pollyanna and the glad game. I bought Pollyanna as a Christmas present for my daughter last year and she totally loved the story. She's 11 now :)

Sally said...

Pollyanna is a wonderful, magical book that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Lovely quotes!

Britney said...

What a sweet girl this Pollyanna. The quote about the weather painted a big smile on my face. I know some people to whom this quote might apply :D

April said...

For me, the 2003 version of Pollyanna is the ultimate feel-good movie. I enjoy it best with a big bucket of chocolate ice cream. Yum!

Pollyanna said...

I love Pollyanna and the glad game. My mom gave me this book as a B-day present last year. I'm glad you chose these quotes as they are some of my favorites too.

elpinkaminco said...

I'm days away from 44 and have seen the cover of the book, and know the name, but that is it. After reading this, and having the desire to get a book for my daughter and I for summer reading.... guess what I'm getting today!!!!! Thank you so much for this inspiration today!

shirleybl said...

This, I believe, is the essence of the teachings of Law of Attraction. If we find a way to cultivate this attitude as much as possible, "all these other things will be added unto you." Lovely, lovely book!


shirleybl said...

The Just Being Glad game, to me, is the essence of the Law of Attraction. If we feel glad as often as possible, we will feel good now and "all these other things will be added unto you."

Thanks for the comments!


Lisa-Marie said...

The 1973 version of Pollyanna is and always has been my favourite since I was little. My grandparents had a copy of it on video and I always had it playing; every single day. I did not once get bored of hearing about the Glad Game and even managed to play it myself for at least a week or two. I shall have to try it again and see how well it works now that I'm older :]

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