Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Glad Game

I am a self-confessed old-fashioned children's book fiend. Books like Anne of Green Gables, Swallows and Amazons, Little Women, A Little Princess, all Enid Blyton books ever, What Katy Did and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe made up a scarily large percentage of my childhood, and when I need cheering up, I still frequently re-read them now.

But, somehow, I'd never read Pollyanna until I downloaded it for my kindle last week. Pollyanna is the kind of character, found frequently in books like these, who you would want to smack in the face if you met her in real life for being far, far too cheery and perfect. However, in the candyfloss world she inhabits, she fits in well, and you can't help but love her.

The essence of Pollyanna, for those who don't know, is the Glad Game. The idea is to find something in everything to be glad about, no matter what it is. During the course of the book, she advises an invalid to be glad that everyone else doesn't suffer like her, a servant to be 'gladdest' of all on wash day because it won't come again for another week, and she herself is glad when she loses the use of her legs because she can be glad she once had them. 

Like I said, in real life she'd get a slap for being so chirpy.

But, the essence of it is just to be appreciate what you've got instead of complaining about what you don't have. Like, right now, instead of being cross that it's raining again, I can just be happy that it's much warmer, or that I didn't have that far to bike home today. Instead of being annoying at our stupid apartment, I can be glad that I live with John, I'm in Japan, that we're not that far from Sendai, and we only have to live here for a year.

It's pretty cheesy, but I'm genuinely finding it makes me feel happier and more content with the world. To quote another of my beloved children's books, "There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves... so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful." (Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery). The Glad Game helps you to have the 'eyes to see it'.

And anyway, it's SPRING. Even in Sendai now. That's an easy thing to play the glad game with.

You're more than welcome to give me the slap that Pollyanna deserves, but why don't you try playing the Glad Game too?!

(PS - For anyone who knows what this means, by writing this post, I JUST LOST THE GAME. You're welcome. For anyone else, welcome to the club.)


  1. I love children's books! One of my pet theories (I have dozens) is that kids who grow up with Enid Blyton all become book lovers. Do children still read her, or has she become non-PC because, oh horror, she wrote about golliwogs and the milkman hit Noddy on the head? Child abuse!

    What about Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland and His Dark Materials and Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl ... oh ... all of them.

    Pollyanna? You want me to be glad that my hay fever has suddenly deteriorated exponentially? OK, I'm glad I have hay fever because that means winter is over! Hmph. Then why is it cold and dripping wet tonight? Hmph.

    1. Haha I love your sarcastic tone about the non-PC-ness of Enid Blyton! The biggest complaint when I was little used to be that she encouraged sexism, which is as ridiculous as it is wrong!

      I never said it was a full list...I love all the books you listed too (except Dr. Seuss. He was never a feature in our house!). His Dark Materials is quite probably the best series of books ever written. I'd also add Harriet the Spy, The Swish of the Curtain and the Harry Potter series to my ideal children's book fest. And probably a lot more too that I can't think of right now!

      Haha you could be glad of the springtime, or of the fact your hayfever isn't something more severe, or you could always go for the dubious one used in the book of being glad others aren't suffering too. Or you know, ignore the hayfever and just be glad you live in Tokyo. That ought to satisfy anyone!

    2. 1) It is severe.
      2) I don't want to suffer alone. Spread the misery!

      The moral of the story: nothing placates grumpy hay fever victims. Pollyanna had better STAY OUT OF MY WAY.

      PS: Don't forget Noddy and Big Ears. Two boys snuggling up in bed? Our children are doomed, says I, doomed.

      PPS: The Swish of the Curtain? Don't know that one! Let me go look at Amazon ...

    3. You can't get it for kindle, I looked myself this morning :( it's all about a group of kids who set up their own theatre. I had a bit of a love if drama when I was younger and so I loved it!

      And OK, be miserable in your hay fever-ness! Pollyanna and I'll go and be glad in the springtime together!

    4. Enid Blyton's books are a non-issue here over in Malaysia.

      As long as it doesn't annoy the moral police, it's safe. We are a bunch of non-PC or should I say, a bunch of politically-incorrect people here? xD

  2. I love this post Susie :) I love all of those books as well! We should all play the glad game (and be reminded to). Life is precious.

    1. Thanks Alaina :) You're right, humans are naturally so pessimistic that we need help to see the good side, but we're all very lucky and should be happy for that :D

  3. I read all of the classics you mentioned when I was growing up. Some of the books were my mum's copies, some were my grandma's, but all of them were boxed away fore to share with my kids someday... But your post has made me want to reread them... Maybe I'll have a look on kindle and see what I can find!

    Thank you!!