Border Mail Column Nov 10

If life gives you lemons one day, try making lemonade

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 

         About a week after the Priceline and Reject stores in Albury burned down I received a letter from Priceline advising that until the Albury store was rebuilt there were two stores in my area where I could shop.
         This was good proactive customer service from the company and I rang to them to let them know how much I appreciated the information.  
         When I communicated this to the person at the other end of the line there was silence and for a moment I thought she might have fallen off her chair: positive feedback isn’t something companies are used to receiving, but when deserved I find it easy to give.  
        I’ve always been a bit of a Pollyanna, seeing the positive side of things and my glass half full rather than half empty; give benefit of the doubt to people and as far as possible greet the world with a smile, even if it’s not how I’m feeling on the inside. For me it’s a more enriching way to live.
         But there are days when I feel I’m in the minority, because it’s emerging that many people find it easier to gripe and whinge about things and blame others for anything that goes wrong in their lives.
         I’ve been developing a bit of a theory about why this is and have come to the conclusion that we expect to be able to control everything in our lives including the uncontrollable; as a society we’re not good at coping with disappointment and so we whinge and gripe.
         Many times there is nothing we can do about the situation: as events have shown us once again this IS a country of drought, flooding rains and fire, and those who rely on the land for their livelihood have good reason to don the black hat.  
         But as an avid listener of rural programs reader of rural publications and having had contact with the rural scene through friends and family, I’ve learnt it’s a given that life on the land means controlling what you can control and finding ways to deal with whatever else comes your way even when it’s a seemingly  impossible gig.
         Discussing all of this with a friend recently we decided it was time to declare a No Gripe Day, because many of us really have nothing to complain about.  
         As my friend so aptly puts it, ‘a bit of perspective please people.’ 
         Heading into Christmas and the silly season seems as good a time as any to introduce the No Gripe Day, but as with all good ‘days’, extend the period of no griping to six weeks, maybe longer. 
         To help the cause we’ll also be playing Pollyanna’s ‘The Glad Game’.
         Pollyanna was the creation of author Eleanor H Porter in the 1913 novel of the same name. Although the character is sometimes labelled blindly optimistic, Porter’s ringletted girl’s philosophy struck a chord with millions of people worldwide. Variations of her game have even been used in psychology to awaken hope.  
          Her philosophy wasn’t to ignore the bad, but to find the good in bad situation; given lemons Pollyanna would make lemonade.
         The other weapon in her arsenal of happiness was the simple smile, proven to make us feel good, relieve stress, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, make us look younger and best of all it’s contagious.
         So, when you’re standing in one of the inevitable queues over the next few weeks, (unless you are highly organised or do all of your shopping online), smile because it’s impossible to do that and gripe at the same time.


About Robyne Young

Writer, creative writing teacher, editor, columnist. Literary lover. Short story collections, The Only Constant and The Basket and the Briefcase available via website.
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2 Responses to Border Mail Column Nov 10

  1. Peep says:

    It’s a great reminder you’ve got here! When the company that I work for burned down (not the same one in your post :P) we received tons of letters, emails, and phone calls from customers offering their support. It was extremely nice to see all the hard work accounting for something. Months later, we still get calls, emails, and letters from customers! It feels good!

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