The Hope of Optimism

Question, “In today’s world, it’s so hard to be optimistic. Is it even possible anymore?

Answer:

I certainly believe it is.

One of my favorite stories goes something like this. There were once two boys; identical twins in fact---Jason and Peter. From the day they were born, they were anything other than “identical.” Jason was born an optimist and Peter was a pessimist. No matter what happened, Jason saw the positive side of life. He was usually happy, easily satisfied, and he saw the possibilities in every situation. As positive as Jason was, his brother was equally negative. He was rarely satisfied, usually unhappy and, regardless of the situation, he predicted gloom and doom.

Needless to say, the boys’ parents were very concerned about Peter, for as hard as they tried to treat the boys equally, Peter was always unhappy.

With nowhere else to turn, the boys’ parents turned to a local Psychiatrist. After a great deal of thought, the good doctor had what he felt was a brilliant, “sure thing” solution. His suggestion was this. He said, “You know the holidays are coming. Here’s what’s going on, and here is my suggestion. Obviously, Peter feels that you favor Jason and that you give more to him than you do to Peter. So, what I want to do is to fill up Peter’s room with as many toys as you possibly can---all the greatest stuff. Then, and this is going to be hard for you to do, I want you to fill up Jason’s room with horse manure. Then what’s going to happen is that Peter is going to finally feel that he is the favored one—and thus, he will be happy. Obviously, this will hurt Jason, but he is strong and will get over it.”

Well, the parents were stunned by what seemed like an odd suggestion, but they were desperate and decided to follow his instructions.

Then, the morning arrived. As crazy as it was, the parents had done what the Psychiatrist recommended. They darted down the hall to Peter’s room, hoping to see him excited and happy for the first time. But when they opened the door, they were sadly disappointed. Peter was miserable. He was complaining about the toys and moaning and groaning about how they weren’t “the best.”

The parents then went down the hall to Jason’s room, expecting to see him very unhappy and depressed. They loved their son so much and didn’t want to hurt him, but they were just following instructions.

Well, they were stunned when they opened the door. Rather than acting depressed, Jason was throwing the manure all over the room. He was happy and excited and yelling out, “Whoopee!” When he saw his parents, here is what he said. “You can’t fool me mom and dad. With all this horse manure all over the place, there has to be a pony in here somewhere!”

The moral of the story is that optimism comes from within ourselves. We tend to find what we’re looking for, so if we want to be optimistic, we really do have the power to do so. And, when we are optimistic, we are generally happier people.