This year, the classic Disney film "Pollyanna" celebrates its 60th anniversary! And, although no one could have imagined what 2020 would bring, Pollyanna, played by the iconic Hayley Mills, offers a meaningful lesson in finding gladness in varying circumstances.
Inspired by Eleanor Parker's book, the film adaptation begins with 11-year-old Pollyanna arriving by train to the town of Harrington. Pollyanna's parents have recently passed away, and now, as an orphan, she has come to live with her aunt, Polly Harrington, who she has never met, and, who, yes, owns and controls almost every bit of the small town. Aunt Polly has welcomed Pollyanna into her home, not because of love, but because of familial duty. Little does she know, the bright, kind-natured girl is about to turn Harrington, the townspeople and Aunt Polly herself upside down in a very good way — a very glad way.
Star character Hayley Mills earned two notable accolades for her role as Pollyanna, an Academy Award for the Most Outstanding Juvenile Performance and a Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer. It might be a feel-good film from the 60s, but if you haven't had a chance to watch "Pollyanna," you must! It's available to stream on Disney+.
But what does Pollyanna mean to us today? Why is her story important?
Truly, it's not much about her actual storyline. Instead, it's her attitude. Pollyanna is an optimist. She's a young girl who has endured quite a bit of hardship (dead parents, difficult guardian, new town, etc.), and yet, she's a positive light to all she meets. I'd venture to say that if she were a real-life person in 2020, she'd be telling us all to look on the bright side and make the best of every situation no matter how dire.
Her half-glass-full attitude surfaces in the film while visiting with several Aunt Polly's servants, who have become some of her dearest friends. Pollyanna exclaims, "We get to have roast chicken though, I'm glad of that!" as a retort to their complaints about Sunday. She's chastised for her constant "gladness" but quickly expounds, sharing how her goal of finding something to be glad about in every situation, taught to her by her father, really works. It's called "The Glad Game," and according to Pollyanna, it's as simple as it sounds.
Pollyanna believes there is always something to be glad about. "[The Glad Game] helps sometimes, when things aren't going so well."
And you know what, she's right.
Our own version of The Glad Game can help us weather the dark cloud so many of us feel buried under right now. What do you feel glad about today? Perhaps it isn't Sunday's roast chicken (or maybe it is), but that your refrigerator is stocked with food. Or that the weather has been beautiful. Or that you spoke with your mom who is happy and healthy. Or that you were able to advocate for someone in need. Or that we have freedom of speech in our country. Or that our small, daily actions can create change.
The Glad Game might seem childish, but it's no doubt one of those lessons that can prove valuable at any age. Try playing your own version of The Glad Game today. Say, "I'm glad that..." — there is power in our spoken words. Or, if you can't grasp the idea of a game, transfer Pollyanna's ideology to a glad or thankful journal. Writing down life's positives can provide a record for reflection when you might be in need of a reminder of all the good that is still in life.
Join me in playing The Glad Game, and let's find joy in both the big and little things regardless of how much muck we might be simultaneously wading through. And, if you want to sport your Glad Game commitment on a tee, look no further than Happiest Tees On Earth's new tee that reads "Look For the Good". It's a beautiful reminder for us all, inspired by that darling girl Pollyanna.
"... there is something about everything that you can be glad about if you keep hunting long enough to find it." - Eleanor H. Porter, "Pollyanna"