The Pollyanna Syndrome: Finding Things To Be Glad About

I’m glad I have a chance to write this post today.  After all, it’s pouring down rain outside, and I could be outside cleaning leaves from gutters, or repairing street lamps, or walking my silly beagle again.  Instead, Nemo is curled up in his basket at my feet, for which I am also glad, since Nemo thinks splashing in the rain is as much fun as chasing rabbits or baying at absolutely nothing in the middle of the night, just because he can.

And, of course, I’m also absolutely triple glad that yesterday, when I opened my computer, all the edits I had worked on until 11:00 the previous night had simply disappeared off my hard drive (where they’d probably never landed in the first place) and I had to spend the day reconstructing everything I had done instead of moving on to the five million other pressing projects I have in place. 

You might ask why?  Well, that’s a tough one.  But after wrinkling my pert little nose a time or two, I came up with something.  I learned a LOT about my brand new computer yesterday as I searched through the detritus of files I’d moved to it.  For instance, how would I have known that I had six files detailing the correct way to do a tracheotomy, had I not lost eight hours of work to the Computer Gods?  Now, just in case I ever need to do emergency surgery on a friend or neighbor, I can run home, start my computer, and know just where to look.

I also discovered there are “hidden” files on my computer.  We might ask ourselves why Microsoft feels it needs to hide anything on OUR computers, but I’m glad I don’t have to.  I’m afraid it would be a lot like asking BP why they have hidden the fact there’s an oil plume way down in the ocean that is not, as they want us to believe, unrelated to the massive amounts of BP oil spilling into our beloved Gulf of Mexico from an ill-equipped and monitored oil platform.  There again, I am glad I don’t have to hear that response.  Glad, glad, glad.

As a child, Pollyanna was one of my favorite movies.  I loved everything about it.  The setting, the acting, the story.  I ached for the unloved little girl who played the “Glad” game to deal with a difficult life.  Pollyanna could find that proverbial silver lining in everything.  She was brave, insightful, cute as a button, and able to change the way an entire town thought about life.  Not bad for a freckle-faced orphan.

The Glad Game was very different from the real game I watched being played around me.   Most people I knew were much more adept at finding things NOT to be glad about.  The dark cloud was the meterological event to concentrate on.  I fell in line, as did most of us, concentrating far too often on the things that were wrong with a nearly perfect day, or wishing a book had made it to a higher slot on a bestseller list, and not noting that I should be GLAD a book of mine had made it to any list at all.

There’s a popular movement that insists each of us should visualize what “can be,” and concentrate to make it happen.  We are supposed to do this consistently, with energy and  a significant commitment of time, and if we work at it hard enough, we will achieve our goals.  I’m all for having goals.  I’m all for working on them.  But maybe what most of us need even more is to be glad about the things we already have, to count our blessings, because isn’t there the possibility that if we don’t, when we reach that long sought goal, we won’t even notice?  We’ll just screw up our faces, tense our muscles, and start concentrating on the next one.

Finding and appreciating the ways we are fortunate.  Sound familiar?  Clearly it’s on my mind.  After all Fortunate Harbor’s coming out soon,  and what’s it about if not this?

As for me?  I’m glad I was able to reconstruct those missing edits in only one day.  I really am glad I learned some things about my new computer and operating system as I tried to bring them back.  I’m glad I mentioned my dismay on Facebook and got such lovely support and suggestions.  I’m glad I discovered that the editor who had sent them to me in the first place was not only willing to help, but approachable, warmly sympathetic, and quick to respond. 

Am I glad my edits disappeared?  Not on your life.  But I am glad, truly glad, that these days I’m teaching myself to find small positives in the midst of larger disappointments.  And, of course, I’m glad this was, in the scheme of things, a very minor event.  Those major events?  Well, I’m glad to say I’ll have something to work on for the rest of my life.

You may notice some subtle changes in the look of this blog.  We have switched the platform to WordPress, and now it’s even easier to comment than it was in the past, so why not give it a try?.  Just click on the red “comment” and you’ll see a place to add your own (and to read others) directly below the post.  Also be sure to set any bookmarks or feeds to the new address here:  

While you’re commenting, why not tell us about a time when you found something to be glad about in a difficult situation?  These are the stories that feed our souls.


  1. Audrey Bonnell on June 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Emilie, I have to say you are such an accomplished writer, and yet when you write on your blog, I can beleive that you are just like me. A woman who is filled with her life and knows how to deal with it, eventually. I have found that God has given me the ability to smile, about every thing, the good, bad and the ugly. I have learned to love all people and although I still have some problems with both things I am struggling along. You have given me the hope that if, Emilie can do all these things that I can cope with the small struggles of daily life. I found that helping others has been a great help in my life and through this God given ability. I have found the love of my life. He is very ill and not sure how long he will be here, but everyday God gives us together is a gift. Keep writing my dear friend, so I can see how you progress in this world with me.

  2. Marna on June 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Around here the Glad Game takes the form of what we call practicing an attitude of gratitude. Not happy with what’s being served for dinner? Be grateful your plate is full. While it’s easy to remind the kids about it, sometimes the grownups need to remember it too.

  3. Emilie Richards on June 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I like the “attitude of gratitude,” Marna. That’s a lesson your children will carry with them, isn’t it? And Audrey, I am sorry you’re dealing with possible loss, but your wonderful attitude will certainly help. As for me? Just like everybody else. Good days and bad days in the gratitude department. But every time I remind myself to be ‘glad’ I feel better almost immediately. Or at least I have a good laugh. 🙂

  4. Rebecca on May 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Awww, I love all you fellow Pollyannians!!! (Now smiling a sparkly smile and being glad to have a computer and knowing there are other people out there just like me!!!) 😀

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