Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Make Success Visible

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

saturate your mind with hopeI won’t go into details, but last week my coworkers and I were in need of a little cheering up so I turned to Edith Mae Cummings’ Pots and Pans and Millions: A Study in Woman’s Right to Be in Business; her Proclivities and Capacity for Success (whew!) and found the following. It was published by the National School of Business Science for Women right here in Washington, D.C., and I do believe it has helped pull me out of my slump. If it can work for me, it can work for anyone, as long as you have hope! All righty, then!

1929: Make Success Visible

Many women form the chronic habit of indulging in fits of depressing that we call the ‘blues.’ They allow the ‘blues’ an easy entrance to their minds, in fact are always at home to them and are susceptible to every form of discouragement that comes along. Every little setback, every little difficulty, sends them into the ‘blues’ and they will say ‘what’s the use?’ As a result their work is poor and ineffective, and they do not accomplish the things they desire.

Every time you give way to discouragement, every time you are blue, you are going backward, your destructive thoughts are tearing down what you have been trying to build. One fit of discouragement ~ visualizing failure or poverty ~ will rapidly destroy the result of much triumphant thought building. Your creative forces will harmonize with your thoughts, your emotions and moods; they will create in sympathy with them.

Saturate your mind with hope, the expectation of better things, with the belief that your dreams are coming true. Be convinced that you are going to win out; let your mind rest with success thoughts. Don’t let the enemies of your success and happiness dominate in your mind or they will bring to you the condition they represent.

I know of nothing that gives more satisfaction than the consciousness that we have formed the habit of winning, the habit of victory, the habit of carrying a victorious mental attitude, of walking, acting, talking, looking like a winner. That sort of attitude always keeps the dominant, helpful qualities to the fore ~ always in the ascendancy.

One of the most obstinate of habits in life, and one fatal to efficiency, is the habit of feeling defeated.

Source: Cummings, Edith Mae. Pots and Pans and Millions. Washington, D.C.: National School of Business Science for Women, 1929.
~ pp. 277-78 ~

Be a Good Worker Bee

Monday, August 30th, 2010

surrounded by cheerful peopleQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am starting a new job soon. How can I make a good impression during my first few days?

Signed,
Jane

A Dear Jane:

Although the author of the following excerpt suggests that companies often give employees “a break” early on, she stresses the importance of manners and punctuality at all times. This is by Elizabeth Gregg MacGibbon, from her 1941 book titled Fitting Yourself for Business.

1941: Keep the Corners of Your Mouth Up

Remember the old saying, ‘Honey catches more flies than vinegar’? It goes without saying that an agreeable person is more apt to make good than is the grouch, the fuss-budget, or the ‘sourpuss.’ If employers had their way they would always be surrounded by cheerful people. No doubt you have heard of the secretary who in her efficiency fairly scolds her boss as though he were her erring child. Privileged employees, because of long years of service of inestimable value to their employees, may be permitted such idiosyncrasies; but, as a beginner, no such privileges are in store for you. Young people who are not cheerful are too easy to replace.

Source: MacGibbon, Elizabeth Gregg. Fitting Yourself for Business. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1941.
~ p. 263 ~

The Summer Job Conundrum

Monday, August 30th, 2010

get the pleasure out of a thingQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have recently been offered a summer job at an amusement park running a ride. I was really psyched to take it, so I could enjoy my summer in the sun. But just today my Dad told me that they are hiring summer help where he works. The problem is that I already agreed to take the ride job, which would be fun and easy and I’d get to spend time with friends. It only pays $5.50, though, and the job where dad works will pay at least double that. I really want to take the fun job, but should I sacrifice a fun summer and take the tough job to really clear a lot of bones, or what? If I take the fun job, how do I tell my dad that I’m not interested in the job he’s offering?

Signed,
Andrew

A Dear Andrew:

Ah, the age-old dilemma of taking a boring summer job versus a fun amusement park one. I feel your pain, and wish you luck as you figure out a way to tell your father you won’t be taking his job. How could you? I see no choice, particularly after reading this excerpt from Dorothy Dix’s How to Win and Hold a Husband. I know, I know, based on the book title it doesn’t sound like it would be relevant, but trust me. Enjoy your freedom and happiness now, for you’ve got plenty of time to be miserable in your later years, no doubt while working at a dreary desk job.

Hey, I have an idea ~ perhaps a free season pass to the park would help convince dear old dad that you’ve made the right decision?

1939: Enjoy What You Have Now

Most people miss all pleasure in what they have because their whole attention is focused on wanting something they haven’t got, and so they lose even the happiness they could have. Don’t make this mistake. If you have health exult in it. Realize you have something to give three cheers for every minute of the day. If you have youth rejoice in it. Those who are young really don’t need anything else. They are on their tiptoes already. If you have a wife or a husband whom you love, and if you have little children, be down on your knees thanking heaven for its best gifts.

It is pitiful to see strong young people throwing away the happiness they might just as well have because they are longing for automobiles or fine clothes or freedom from work or something equally silly that has nothing in the world to do with happiness. And it is still more pitiful to see mothers and fathers getting no pleasure out of their children. Worrying because they are tied down at home with babies, or because little Johnny is noisy, or the money has to be spent on having little Mary’s teeth fixed instead of on golf sticks or a new frock.

And lots of foolish people put off being happy to some future time. They are going to be happy when they get rich. They are going to travel when they are old. The husbands and wives are going to enjoy each other after the children are grown up. But you can’t postpone being happy. You’ve got to get the pleasure out of a thing now or never. And so those who have denied themselves every joy for the great splurge they intend to have when they are old find out that they have waited too long. They have lost their capacity for enjoyment.

Source: Dix, Dorothy. How to Win and Hold a Husband. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1939.
~ pp. 254-55 ~

A Sunny Disposition

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

full of smiles and sunshine“This little book is born of a desire to help and encourage our girls who are struggling with the problems that come up in teens,” Mabel Hale writes in the foreword to Beautiful Girlhood. “Youth has its problems, its heartaches, and disappointments. It is not always a smooth path to the perfection of womanhood.” Ya got that right, Mabel. With chapters titled “The Strength of Obedience” and “The Girl Who Can Be Trusted,” Hale’s book certainly has helped me understand my teens ~ so what if I’m reading it twenty years too late?

1922: A Sunny Disposition

Once I looked upon the face of a dear little boy whose bright eyes and sunny smiles cheered my heart. I asked him what his name might be, and he answered, ‘Papa calls me Sunshine John.’ Then I knew that the merry smile I saw was, as I thought, an index to the sunny little heart. Any home is blest if it has a sunshine-maker.

Every girl owes it to herself and to her associates to be sunny. A happy girlhood is so beautiful that it can not afford to be spoiled by needless frowns and pouts. There are clouds enough in life without making them out of temper. A girl who is full of smiles and sunshine is a fountain of joy to all who know her. The world has enough of tears and sorrow at best, and her sweet, smiling face can scatter untold clouds. Could a girl ask for a better calling than that of a joy-maker for all about her?

Every girl must meet her share of bumps in life. If they do not come soon they must come late. It is impossible that she should pass through life in the sunshine all the time. She must have her share of shadow. She can not escape it. But it is not the deep shadows that generally cloud a girl’s life, and make her unhappy and sullen. It is the little things, insignificant in themselves, and which could have been passed by with hardly a thought if resisted one by one, that irritate the temper and mar the happiness. Every day our girl will meet with circumstances in which she has her choice between frowning and sending back a stinging retort, or smiling and passing them by with a kind word. If she can pass these little bumps and keep sweet, then she has mastered the art of being sunny.

Source: Hale, Mabel. Beautiful Girlhood. Anderson, Ill.: [Gospel Trumpet Co.?], 1922.
~ pp. 56-57 ~

1919: Cheerfulness

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Since today is mother’s day, I thought I’d bring you a little something from the parenting side of advice books. The following is from one called The Mother’s Book. My own mom has raised me with a cheerful outlook on life, I think, so this one seemed fitting as a way to honor her and all she’s done for me.

~~
Cheerfulness has been delightfully called “the bright weather of the heart.” Let the mother smile down upon the babe that gazes tearfully up into her eyes, and often out of a peevish humor a happy spirit is at once evoked, for an infant is most sensitive to look and tone. Let her meet its childish woes and hurts with an encouraging word, and very early it will begin to take a cheerful view of life; and how easily it attaches itself to anyone with a bright face and a merry heart! We are generous in the education of our children, but do we not sometimes neglect the very important art of cheerfulness? Draw the child’s attention to the beauty of a rainy day, and to the different blessings associated with merry spring, glowing summer, gorgeous autumn, and brisk winter. Teach them to look more often up into the sky with its wonderful cloud effects; for the cheerful ones are always those who look out and up. It is easier now than in the olden days to teach the young lessons of cheer; for more and more their social betterment is made a subject of study. It was not until late in the nineteenth century, for example, that children were taught to sing, and does not the music thus brought into their lives impart genuine pleasure?

Some mothers who read these words will sigh and say that withal life is a chapter of many and varied experiences, and that it is hard always to be bright. Well, there are clouds it is true, but there is a rift somewhere; the best way is to walk hand in hand with the children right up to manhood and womanhood, trying to carry the cheer together, and cheerfulness has an abiding element that overcomes many obstacles.
~~

On that note, Happy Mother’s Day all you mothers out there, particularly my own!