Supposedly, this story was Ronald Reagan's favorite.
Are You an Optimist or Pessimist?
They were eight year old twins.
By the time they got to be eight years old, they were driving their parents crazy because one of the twins was down, depressed, and negative, and the other one was positive, up, and energized all the time.
Obviously, the latter child wasn't the problem. Should go without saying, right?
The parents finally decided to bring the boys to a child psychologist.
After a few sessions, the psychologist decided to do a little experiment. Why it took this long, I'll never understand. But that's another story.
When the twins came in, the psychologist took the negative boy downstairs to a room with ice cream, cake, candy, and video games–everything an eight year old would want.
He said to the eight year old boy, “Why don’t you stay here and play while I meet with your brother?”
The kid walked off, sat in the corner, and sucked on his thumb.
The psychologist then went upstairs and got the positive kid.
He brought him down the hall to this huge gymnasium. There weren't any basketballs or baskets.
There was just this huge mountain of horse shit that almost went to the ceiling.
He said, “Son, why don’t you stay here and play for half an hour while I meet with your brother?”
Almost instantly, the positive kid starting running up the mountain, rolling down the mountain, and within a few minutes, he was a total mess.
A half an hour later, the psychologist went down to see the negative boy.
He was still sitting in the corner sucking on his thumb.
They psychologist said, “Why don’t you have some ice cream, candy or cake?”
“I might get sick.”
“Why don’t you play with the video games?”
“I don’t know how.”
“Well, why don’t you follow me? You might learn something.”
So, he went back upstairs to the gym, and the positive kid was still running up and rolling down the mountain.
The horse shit was in his hair, down his shirt, and all over and IN his pants.
It was a total mess. A nightmare.
When he saw the psychologist, he came running over all excited.
The psychologist said, “What in the world are you doing?”
The positive kid said, “Well, I figured with all this horse crap, there must be a pony somewhere.”
Optimist or Pessimist? You can change it.
It's funny how some people are naturally optimistic and some are, well, not so much. Actual pessimists who see the glass as half full, needing to be washed, and OMG now I have to do this whole heap of dishes and LIFE JUST ISN'T ANY FAIR AT ALL.
But is it in your DNA? Clearly not. These were identical twins with a completely different attitude.
Could it be environmental? Well, no. The kids lived in the same house.
It was completely within each. But how?
And more importantly, is there a way the negative boy could coax some positivity in himself?
Clearly, the answer is yes.
There have been a ton of books published on the subject, like this one – Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.
I encourage you to give it a read or listen.