Five things I learned from Dolly Parton about mental wellbeing

Dolly Parton is the ultimate positive thinker and her appearance at Glastonbury this weekend marked a sequin-encrusted departure from the standard indie festival line-up.

We all know the story, and even if we don’t, we know the songs. Dolly came from a life of poverty and faced every tough situation with a song and a smile. Of course, it’s a simplistic attitude to mental wellbeing, but she never fails to cheer me up. I am still buzzing from seeing her in Newcastle with my sisters a couple of weeks ago (and I still don’t have my voice back).

So, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Do what you love every day- and don’t worry if you can’t always do it well
Apparently Dolly has written over 5000 songs. I bet at least 4500 of them are total rubbish, but it doesn’t matter. She’s created some absolute belters that we all love and more importantly, she loves doing it. If she’d sat down on day one and expected to write 9 til 5, it never would have happened. The point is to do what you love for its own sake, not for what it can bring you.

2. Never lose your sense of humour
“It takes a lot of money to look this cheap”
Dolly’s shows are peppered with jokes, mostly at her own expense. You’ll never see her getting drawn into some celebrity twitter spat, because she just doesn’t take herself seriously enough to bother. Honestly, if you want a good laugh, just google “dolly parton quotes”.

3. Remember what’s important
She might be loaded now, but Dolly was brought up in grinding poverty. With some people, the folksy, sugary portrayal of poverty sticks in my throat, but with Dolly I really believe that she knows about disadvantage. It’s just that she genuinely feels that the love in her family made up for it. It might be because my mum once made me a (very cool) patchwork schoolbag from off-cuts, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to My coat of many colours without a wee happy tear coming to my eye.

4. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability
“Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man.” Was ever a more wretched, pleading line written? Dolly doesn’t think that being positive means that everything is okay, because sometimes life isn’t. She opens up and shows her weakness and she’s all the stronger for it.

5. Dancing makes everything seem better
It’s easy to look for big, all-encompassing solutions to our problems. Sometimes though, it’s easier, and more effective to just make the most of what’s happening today. So, while there’s very little that I find fulfilling about domestic drudgery, evening cleaning the bathroom is kind of fun when there’s music playing. Especially if it’s Dolly (just me?)

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply