I’m a big reader, and love all kinds of books. Recently I read Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”, a book that drew me in with its tag line “Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” (It’s a great book, and is a #1 New York Times Bestseller.) The book inspired me to hunt through our bookshelves to find children’s literature. You see, Gretchen loves children’s literature because the stories usually have good morals embedded within, and have happy endings. Good always prevails over evil. Adult literature is often more complicated moral-wise which is thought-provoking, but if you want to get happy, read a kids’ book. I agree!
So I decided to re-read an old favorite: Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Green Gables is about an eleven year-old orphan girl who is taken in by the Cuthberts, even though they were really hoping for a boy to help on the farm. But this red-headed, freckled face skinny girl wins them over with her enthusiasm and imagination and general sweetness.
What I love about Anne is she seems to know the secrets of happiness– even at eleven, and even when the situation is bleak. The day after arriving at Green Gables, the Cuthberts want to send Anne back to the orphanage. In the buggy, Anne keeps her chin up:
“Do you know,” said Anne confidentially, “I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up firmly.”
Anne also says something that resonated with me as a Mom. Before Green Gables, Anne lived with many different families. She is asked if the women were good to her. Anne’s response? “Oh, they meant to be– I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite– always.”
This made me feel so much better about all the MILLIONS of mistakes I’ve made as a parent. Because when push comes to shove, I’ve always MEANT to be a good mom. 🙂
Finally, Anne knows a secret to happiness I’ve been telling my family for ages now– when your environment is lovely and happy, you just feel BETTER. I’m a firm believer that if you surround yourself with what you love, you will be in better spirits. Anne is a HUGE nature lover, and brings flowers into the house. She adorns the dinner table and her bedroom with jugfuls of apple blossoms. How can you NOT be happy when you’re surrounded by apple blossoms?
I’m only half-way through the book, but I’m so glad I picked it up again. Funny how a classic children’s story can have such insight into happiness, parenting, and the importance of surrounding yourself with beautiful things!