Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The new has worn off already...

Well, it looks like the new has already worn off of the new year. I guess I knew it would happen, but not this quickly! I blame it on the fact that New Year's Day was on a Sunday this year...followed by a Monday. Poor old Monday. It can put a damper on just about anything!

There are a few hardy souls out there trying their best to keep that optimistic view of their goals for the new year...I know it's getting tough to find an empty spot at the gym to work out, but in another month or two it will be back to the regulars. For, you see, this optimism thing takes work - a LOT of work.

Sometimes people look at those who hang onto optimism and figure they haven't got a brain in their head...after all, nobody can be this happy and have the slightest clue what is going on. What very few realize is, staying positive in this world is VERY hard work. It means in the process, some will call you a "Pollyanna" and usually mean it in a derogatory way.

What? You don't know who Pollyanna is? Let me share the following from wikipedia then.

"Pollyanna is a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that is now considered a classic of children's literature, with the title character's name becoming a popular term for someone with the same optimistic outlook.

The title character is named Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan who goes to live in Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy but stern Aunt Polly. Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we didn't need to use them!"

With this philosophy, and her own sunny personality and sincere, sympathetic soul, Pollyanna brings so much gladness to her aunt's dispirited New England town that she transforms it into a pleasant place to live. 'The Glad Game' shields her from her aunt's stern attitude: when Aunt Polly puts her in a stuffy attic room without carpets or pictures, she exults at the beautiful view from the high window; when she tries to "punish" her niece for being late to dinner by sentencing her to a meal of bread and milk in the kitchen with the servant, Nancy, Pollyanna thanks her rapturously because she likes bread and milk, and she likes Nancy.

Soon, Pollyanna teaches some of Beldingsville's most troubled inhabitants to 'play the game' as well, from a querulous invalid named Mrs. Snow to a miserly bachelor, Mr. Pendleton, who lives all alone in a cluttered mansion. Aunt Polly, too— finding herself helpless before Pollyanna's buoyant refusal to be downcast—gradually begins to thaw, although she resists the glad game longer than anyone else.

Eventually, however, even Pollyanna's robust optimism is put to the test when she is struck down by a motorcar while crossing a street and loses the use of her legs. At first she doesn't realize the seriousness of her situation, but her spirits plummet when she accidentally overhears an eminent specialist say that she'll never walk again. After that, she lies in bed, unable to find anything to be glad about. Then the townspeople begin calling at Aunt Polly's house, eager to let Pollyanna know how much her encouragement has improved their lives; and Pollyanna decides she can still be glad that she had legs. The novel ends with Aunt Polly marrying her former lover Dr. Chilton and Pollyanna being sent to a hospital where she learns to walk again and is able to appreciate the use of her legs far more as a result of being temporarily disabled."

This whole Pollyanna thing reminds me of another story...the two little boys who were given gifts. One little boy was the optimist; the other was a pessimist. The little boy who was the optimist was placed into a large room filled with horse manure; the pessimist was placed in a room filled with wonderful toys. An hour later, the researchers checked in on the boys' progress.

The little boy who was a pessimist sat forlornly in the middle of the room, grumbling that none of the toys were as wonderful as they'd first appeared. The researchers marked their notes and went to check on the little optimist. They found that little boy digging in the manure, happily tossing it to the side. When they asked him what he was doing, his reply was, "With all this manure, there's bound to be a pony in here somewhere!"

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think being a "Pollyanna" is a good thing...and now's as good a time as any to practice the part. The new year has already lost some of its luster, but there is bound to be a pony in there somewhere. Care to join me in the "glad game" as we discover what this year may bring?

"What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened.... Instead of always harping on a man's faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits. Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out!... The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town.... People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. If a man feels kindly and obliging, his neighbors will feel that way, too, before long. But if he scolds and scowls and criticizes—his neighbors will return scowl for scowl, and add interest!... When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that..."
(Quote from "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter)

Philippians 4:8

The Message (MSG)

 8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

James 1:2-4
The Message (MSG)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Lamentations 3:22-23
New International Version (NIV)
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

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