This past weekend I watched the movie Pollyanna. I’m sure it’s been more than 10 years since I’ve seen it. Someone recently mentioned her happy disposition, and I wanted to be reminded of the story line. While it’s not my favorite movie, it definitely felt like I was taking a walk down memory lane.
When she started talking about “The Glad Game” all I could think about was my own mother. She basically taught us the same thing, except I think I’d call it “The Nice Game.” If you don’t know what “The Glad Game” is, or if you’ve never seen Pollyanna, here is a clip of it on YouTube. The explanation of the game starts at 2:40.
Here is how the game is played. When something bad happens, you look for reasons to be happy. Like when you’re late to work, instead of being mad about it all day, you think to yourself, “I’m so glad that I have a car that can drive me to work, and that I got here safely.” I’ve had a cold this week, and instead of feeling down about it I think, “I’m glad that most of the time I am healthy. I’m glad that I have tissues and modern medicine. I’m grateful for sleep.”
Like I said before, my mom is probably the queen at this game. When I was in high school I went through a few groups of friends and had some family drama going on. When my friends would get into fights, or when I’d have to go to my dad’s for the weekend, I’d come home very upset. I’d sit and complain to my mom about how hard my life was. She’d listen and then she’d say, “Well now that we’ve talked about all of the bad things, it’s time to look for the good things and recognize all the great things in your life. For everyone you said something bad about, you need to say 5 positive things about them.” That is really hard to do when you’re mad at someone, but it always helped me look for the good.
While I was in the MTC learning Chinese and preparing to serve an LDS mission to Taiwan, I had 3 different mission companions. I was in the MTC for 12 weeks. This was in 2011. I was having a hard time being away from home, learning the language, and getting along with everyone. We had a speaker Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita come speak to us. His humble wife got up and said a few words to us. She was adorable, and made the point to us that even though her English wasn’t perfect we could still feel her love and understand her heart. That gave me a lot of hope as a Chinese speaking missionary. She told us to write down a list of 100 good things about our companions. It would force us to look at the good in them.
I did this for every one of my companions, even the ones I really didn't like. It helped our companionship, and made them realize that I really did love them and want to work with them. One of my companions almost started crying, because she'd never received anything like it in her life. I would pull out my list, especially when I wasn’t getting along with them, and force myself to focus on the good.
Sometimes my list would say something like, “I like your hair” or “You have cool mismatched socks.” They weren’t always brilliant, but it forced me to look for something, anything good about this person I was working with. I had one or two companions write me a similar list as well. I found when I was searching for the good; it was harder to see the bad.
I told my co-worker about Pollyanna and so far this week every day she’s reminded me that we should play “The Glad Game.” Like today when something went terribly wrong with the system at work she said, “Let’s be glad that it wasn’t our fault, and that we’re not the IT guys right now.”That did make me glad, and it made me laugh pretty hard.
Here is another clip from the movie. Enjoy and be glad!