Monday, February 18, 2008

The Case Against Pollyanna by Nannette Croce

These days if you call someone a Pollyanna, it’s not a good thing. Someone who insists on highlighting the good in even the darkest situations grates on people’s nerves.

As I recall from the Disney movie starring Hayley Mills, whenever anyone complained, Pollyanna responded with, “We should be glad though.” The story was meant to be a lesson in positive thinking. So how did the meaning get so turned around?

The truth is, Pollyannas don’t make very good friends, because friends don’t stop friends from venting.

Encouraging a good whine may seem strange in the context of A Year of Gratitude, but it’s one thing to look within ourselves to find what is good in our lives and encourage others to do the same. It’s another to shut down a friend’s healthy vent by reminding her she should be grateful to have kids, a spouse, parents or siblings still living, a job.

Venting may not solve problems, but as the term suggests, an escape valve for pent up frustrations helps us soldier on in circumstances we cannot or would not change, like caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dealing with the stresses of single parenthood.

I am grateful for my friends, both the ones I know in the real world and the ones I know only in my cyber-world, who allow me to vent from time to time, empathizing even when they cannot sympathize. I try to express my gratitude by returning the favor.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Here's to venting! If you don't get the poison out, the boil becomes infected. ;) Great post.

Kathryn Magendie said...

YES! I can't stand platitudes! And, sometimes I just FEEL like feeling sorry for myself...feel like ka-vitching...

Nannette Croce said...

You two and Barb have done me the favor of allowing me a good vent from time to time.

Listen to our Podcasts