Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Glad Game

"Positive thinking is a muscle that atrophies.
The Glad Game is a mental exercise to bulk up the good attitude
and spend some relaxing time thinking positive thoughts.
It gives a good calming energy." *

We had a discussion at dinner the other night. It could have been a full-fledged argument where lines are drawn in the sand and big people act like little kids who either throw their peas or say something hurtful like "nanny nanny boo boo." Thankfully it kind of blew over instead.

I started it. After a phone conversation with a newspaper columnist, I was feeling pretty high about the article she wrote about the recent baby shower. She did a great job of taking my enthusiastic ramblings and turning them into coherent sentences. Plus she made me sound a tad bit like Mother Theresa! I got a little puffed up. It must have been the bragging that set things off.

My dad, who likes to keep me in my place, suggested that it was too bad all the work and generosity would be so short lived. He's an engineer. He looks at things with his head. I see with my heart. We stay at different ends of whatever stick the world uses for measuring reality. In this case I can see his point even though I don't agree. Babies are hopefully going to grow and grow fast. The 100+ newborn onesies we're giving away won't fit very long. And we all know that land fills are full of disposal diapers. However, does this reality negate the the power of the giving?

In the past, Dad's negative response to something that means so much to me would have cut me to the core. Sadly, I would have accepted his negativity as the truth. But this whole baby shower thing has been such a POSITIVE experience for so many people (and the gifts haven't even been distributed yet) that Dad's curmudgeoness has no power to hurt me.

Anyway Sweetie called Dad on his nay saying. Yikes! My stomach started to lurch a little. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. Then Dad said something that made no sense at all to me. He asked what it means to be a Pollyanna. The tide turned and the subject changed.

It wasn't until later when Sweetie told me that he thought being called a Pollyanna was a derogatory thing that I realized Dad was trying to twist the knife he'd stabbed into my happiness. The dig went right over my head! I decided to Google Pollyanna and see what I was missing.

I remember watching Haley Mills in the Disney Movie. Back when I was about 10 I think I wanted to be her. She was cute, she could act, she had an English accent - what's not to love? All these years later, the only thing I can remember about the movie is that Pollyanna was always happy. It was her infectious sunny personality that turned all the grumpy people in her town into happy neighbors. I had no memory of the "Glad Game" which apparently was a major part of the movie, until reading what Wikipedia had to say about it.

It seems Pollyanna's optimistic attitude was the result of her father teaching her the Glad Game. It "consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation." It reminds me of a quote by Abraham Lincoln that goes something like - a person is only as happy as they make up their minds to be. When I was in my blue period, that statement really bugged the poo poo out of me. I tried really hard to be, if not happy, at least less sad and it didn't always work. I don't believe depression can be cured by having an attitude adjustment. But, with lots of therapy under my belt, I do believe looking on the bright side is just as easy as seeing the dark side. It's a glass half-full kind of thing. (Which is another saying that used to bother me, but I think I was just crabby all the way around and there weren't too many positive sayings that appealed to me. Although I did think the lyrics of most of Jimmy Buffet songs had great psychological significance. "If you ever wonder why we ride the carousel, we do it for the stories we can tell." "Come Monday it'll be alright." "Let's get drunk and screw." But I digress ....)

Even though I didn't know it, I think I've been playing the glad game. I'm not always good at it, but I try. It's like having a gratitude journal. Some days I'm grateful to be alive. Some days I'm grateful to be alive with the blue sky above me, a warm house to call home, food in my belly, a Sweetie to love, books to read, pets to pet, kids to love, sisters to hug, water that's hot, Cokes with ice, quilts to snuggle under and a pissant Dad to care for.

Perhaps Sweetie is right. Maybe I should be insulted by being called a Pollyanna. But every time I think about being compared to that happy little blond dynamo, I feel kind of honored.

Hoping you have something to be glad about,
Merry ME

*, 6 Nov 2006


Sorrow said...

I gave that movie to one of my God children a few years back, she called me crying, and told me she wanted to be like Pollyanna too!
and her attitude is what is keeping that family alive.
So I would take it as a HUGE compliment, because your glad game, can work wonders...
reminds me of terri's post and what we can do with our words. There is some power in them there words!

terri st. cloud said...

i'm thinking we need to throw peas at your dad.

Anti Jen said...

Thanks for this. I've so been enjoying your recent bursts of inspiration. I too alternate between being blue and being a Pollyanna. It's much more fun being the latter. It's just a shame your grumpy dad thinks that's a bad thing...

Anonymous said...

I'm with you and Sorrow (above) -- I totally take it as a compliment. And I'm Pollyanna enough myself to think that even Grumpy Grampy meant it as a compliment -- kind of like he was throwing up his hands and sayin' 'you can find something happy in everything.' Ha ha -- he's right!!


Anonymous said...

I'm also all for throwing peas at GG.


Anonymous said...

I am a "PollyAnna" girl too!! glasses...trying to find the good in every situation is often hard, but eventually it comes to me...All I really need do is put on those Rose Colored Glasses....and my world looks a whole lot prettier!!