In Defense of Pollyanna

Perhaps you’ve heard someone described as a Pollyanna or as being Pollyannaish. Perhaps you’ve described me that way (which makes me glad.) The term is usually used to describe a person that is foolishly hopeful or even annoyingly hopeful.

Pollyanna is the heroine of a 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter about an orphaned  girl who was forced to lived with her rigid Aunt Polly. Shortly before her father’s death, he taught her the “Just Be Glad” game, which challenged her to look for the bright side of any circumstances.

I strive to hold hope at all times and fall short for sure. Remaining optimistic is tough sometimes, and constantly hopeful people may even rub us the wrong way. But I’m not going to stop dealing hope, which requires that I dig for it. If I choose to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the fact remains that some tunnels are longer than others. But I think that sometimes it’s the digging, the mining, the harvesting that is helpful for me personally, because sometimes it requires me to enter one of my favorite states – curiosity!

I start to feel better the moment I pull on my deerstalker, grip my magnifying glass, and ask,”Where’s that silver lining?”


The act of searching requires an assumption – a default setting – that there is hope to be found. As far as I can see, that is a decision – a choice one makes. And once you make that choice, the game is afoot! Sifting through the manure pile can seem like a game once you decide that there’s a pearl in the pile. Curiosity fuels that pursuit and curiosity feels good. Try it! If nothing else, it momentarily gives you something else to think about.

If your default setting is not “there is hope,” feel free to change your mind. Who knows what else you might change by doing so?

“Once you start looking for the happy things, you don’t think about the bad ones as much.”                                                                                                                     – Pollyanna

p. s. ~There’s actually some pretty solid science to support that optimism is healthy and because I’m a hope-dealer (not a dope dealer) I’ll share more about that in the future. (Hmm… feeling curious?)  

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