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!


Posts Tagged ‘laughter’


Saturday, August 14th, 2010

go with the windQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am scared to show my body in front of a guy. How can I make myself more comfortable?


A Dear Cassidy:

I think this little excerpt from Margery Wilson’s “complete book of charm” (The Woman You Want to Be) says it all. And by the way, that “laughing at yourself” thing really works. Trust me. I’m just hilarious sometimes.

1942: Learn How to Relax

To clear the decks for better judgment in all matters, we take our first step toward poise by learning to relax.

Whatever may be the real self trying to express through flesh, fears, mental tangles, mannerisms and odd notions that make up the average human personality, our best approach to it is first through relaxation. Let go!

Relax so that your energies can flow together harmoniously. Relax so that your forces of mind and spirit can bring you your natural vitality ~ so that your body may become supple and graceful ~ and renewed by a free-flowing bloodstream. Relax so you may get a new mental picture of whatever is weighing on your mind, and poise will gradually replace confusion and tension.

LAUGH AWAY AWKWARDNESS. Things go a bit awkwardly at first ~ naturally one must become accustomed to thinking and planning in certain ways. But after a few repetitions your actions become automatic, which is what we really mean when we say ‘natural.’ And you really can have a great deal of fun. When you are awkward, laugh at yourself. Few of us laugh enough. Let’s not go after charm grimly, with determination. Think how funny you’d look with a set expression on your face while you said something intended to be tossed off airily. We should relax and just ‘go with the wind’ for a few days and see what happens. Make a high adventure of the conquest of charm.

Source: Wilson, Margery. The Woman You Want to Be. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1942.
~ pp. 31 ~

Laughter, a Great Tonic

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

a good laugh makes better friendsAccording to this worthwhile excerpt from The Household Guide, hearty laughs are where it’s at, folks. Stay away from those giggles. When you laugh, laugh with purpose! C’mon everyone, laugh with me! Ha ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha! Ba ha ha! Whew. That felt good.

1902: Laughter, a Great Tonic

Keeps the Spirit Buoyant, the Heart and Face Young.

‘I presume if we laughed more we should all be happier and healthier,’ writes Edward W. Bok in the Ladies’ Home Journal. ‘True, we are a busy and a very practical people. And most of us probably find more in this life to bring the frown than the smile. But, nevertheless, it is a pity that we do not laugh more; that we do not bring ourselves to the laugh, if need be.

Best Medicine. ~ We all agree that a good laugh is the best medicine in the world. Physicians have said that no other feeling works so much good to the entire human body as that of merriment. As a digestive, it is unexcelled; as a means of expanding the lungs, there is nothing better. It keeps the heart and face young. It is the best of all tonics to the spirits. It is, too, the most enjoyable of all sensations.

Better Friends. ~ A good laugh makes better friends with ourselves and everybody around us, and puts us into closer touch with what is best and brightest in our lot in life. It is to be regretted, then, that such a potent agency for our personal good is not more often used.

Not Expensive. ~ It costs nothing. All other medicines are more or less expensive. “Why,” said an old doctor not long ago, “if people fully realized what it means to themselves to laugh, and laughed as they should, ninety per cent of the doctors would have to go out of business.” Probably when we get a little less busy we shall laugh more. For, after all, the difference between gloom and laughter is but a step. And if more of us simply took a step aside oftener than we do, and rested more, we would laugh more.

Laughter, not Giggling. ~ By laughing I do not mean the silly giggle indulged in by some women and so many girls and boys, too. There is no outward mark which demonstrates the woman of shallow mind so unmistakably as that of giggling. There is no sense in the giggle, no benefit to be derived from it. It makes a fool of the person, and renders every one about uncomfortable.

A Healthful Nature. ~ But just as the giggle is the outcome of a small mind, the hearty laugh is the reflection of a healthful nature. What we want is more good laughers in the world, not more gigglers.’

Source: Jefferis, Prof. B. G. The Household Guide, or Domestic Cyclopedia. Atlanta, Ga.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1902.
~ p. 50 ~