Last week I read the book “Pollyanna”. It was my first time reading the beautiful little book and believe that it has changed my outlook entirely. In the story, the main character, Pollyanna, is orphaned and sent to live with her spinster Aunt. She is a fervent player of the “glad game”. In this game she finds something to be glad about in every situation and delights when she finds that her situation seems bleak, because that is when it is the most fun to creatively find something to be glad about.
So I started playing.
It was hard at first. I was shaky with my gladness. Sometimes I felt foolish and superficial, but I pressed on. What really changed the way that I approach the game was in the moments that I spend with myself before falling asleep. I usually lay there on my small mattress with a mound of blankets over me waiting for the sea of sleep to lap my troubled shores and whisk me into dreamland. This is not easy. This is the time that all of the bad, the guilt, the shame, the worries, the nerves, come out. To quiet my mind and to soothe my worries, I began naming things that I was glad for that day.
It is simple, but, oh, so powerful.
I am glad that I woke up this morning. I am glad that it was not raining. I am glad that I spent time with my lovely friends. I am glad that I have a beautifully working body. I am glad that I have my mother. I am glad that I am in school. I am glad that I have all of my senses. I am glad that I am a writer. I am glad that I stopped to watch the squirrels play today. I am glad that I took time to read today. I am glad that I prayed. I am glad that I had food to eat. I am glad that I have clothes to wear. I am glad that I have a beautiful family that is safe and sound. I am glad that my two dogs are doing well. I am glad that it is December. I am glad that I finished my paper. I am glad that I studied so hard for that test.
I am glad.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“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 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!”
“Most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
“Mrs. Snow had lived forty years, and for fifteen of those years she had been too busy wishing things were different to find much time to enjoy things as they were.”
“I’m thinking that the very finest prism of them all is yourself, Pollyanna.”
“Oh, but I don’t show beautiful red and green and purple when the sun shines through me, Mr. Pendleton!”
“Don’t you?” smiled the man.