What's Wrong With Being a Pollyanna?
OK, so recently the term "Pollyanna" has come into my awareness as someone who is idealistic and outside the realm of reality, as in "quit being such a Pollyanna."
My only personal context of Pollyanna is from the 1960 Disney film starring Hayley Mills, but the movie was based on the 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter. To make a long story short, Pollyanna is a young girl who always has a positive outlook on life, even though she's had a lot of adversities to overcome. She is sent to live with her aunt Polly, a wealthy and prominent woman who is very much a glass half empty kind of person. Pollyanna brings with her a game she learned from her father called the Glad Game in which she always finds the good in any situation. In fact, her father gave her a brooch with this inscription on it:
"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will."—Abraham Lincoln
(Sound similar to what we've been talking about in this blog recently?)
So when Pollyanna is sent to live with her aunt in the town of Beldingsville, which, since her aunt pretty much runs the town, has taken on her dour attitude, we see how one young, positive girl can actually change the entire town. Despite the fact that her aunt puts her in a stuffy attic room without carpets or pictures, Pollyanna is glad for the wonderful view out the window from her high perch. When her aunt punishes her for being late to dinner by making her eat bread and milk in the kitchen with Nancy, the servant, Pollyanna thanks her aunt because she likes bread and milk and she likes Nancy.
Does it remind you of another young girl who saw the good in the world despite her own situation? I'm thinking of Anne Frank.
So I want to know what's wrong with being a Pollyanna. Seeing the good in every situation by playing the "Glad Game" can't be a bad way to see the world, can it? The cynics of the world may call you naive and they may fight to be right about their cynical attitude. As Richard Bach said in Illusions: "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours."
Think about Pollyanna during this upcoming election season. Which candidates will you stand for ... the ones who stand for their own positions or those who fight against their opponents?
I'll take Pollyanna any day.