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Quotes: On the bright side

Pollyanna, with Jane Wyman, Richard Egan, Karl Malden, Nancy Olson, and Hayley Mills, 1960

Recently I was debating someone about how to improve a decades-old process that simply doesn’t work. He believes flawed, inadequate procedures are the best we can do, and considers me naive for thinking otherwise.

Pollyanna,” he groused.

If he’d used the term appropriately, I’d have been flattered. The expression comes from the classic 1913 children’s novel by Eleanor H. Porter about a girl who manages to find something positive in the most negative circumstances. Thinking you should try to fix a flat tire instead of driving on doesn’t make you a Pollyanna—it means you have common sense. Thinking when your tire goes flat that you’re blessed to have a car makes you a Pollyanna.  

My mother is a Pollyanna; she looks for the good in people, finds the blessings in hard times, and believes tomorrow will be a better day. Being able to find the silver lining behind life’s darkest clouds is a quality I didn’t necessarily inherit but do try to emulate. Here are some other thoughts about looking on the bright side …


“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

—Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker


“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

—Eric Hoffer, American author and philosopher


“The misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never came.”

—James Russell Lowell, poet, critic, and editor


“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

—Charles Dickens, novelist


“I’ve always believed no matter how many shots I miss, I’m going to make the next one.”

—Isiah Thomas, professional basketball player and coach


“Whatever you believe with feeling becomes your reality.”

—Brian Tracy, businessman and author


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

—Confucius, Chinese philosopher


“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 him up to his better self, his real self that can dare and do and win out!”

—Eleanor H. Porter, from the novel Pollyanna


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