Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The eternal optimist

This is a story my mom told me over and over growing up, I hope you enjoy it and remember to "dig" to find the positive in every situation!

A few years ago a major research project was commissioned by world renowned university. The purpose of the study was to objectively develop operational definitions for pessimists and optimists for use in textbooks, academic papers, and classroom learning. 
The scientists, behaviorists, and psychologists involved scoured the globe searching for the most pessimistic and optimistic people they could find. Their key objective was to bring test subjects back to the lab for further study. After a year of looking the team finally narrowed their search down to two 8 year-old boys. 
Back at the lab two observations rooms were readied. The first room was filled with every kind of toy imaginable. There were so many toys that it seemed to the researchers that an entire toy store had been emptied for the sake of the study. The second room was filled wall to wall with horse manure. The boys were to each be placed in a room and their behaviors would be observed from behind one way mirrors.  
The first little boy stood skeptically in the doorway of the room full of toys not sure if he should enter. But with a little prodding from one of the researchers who said, “Go on in, they are all yours”, he finally walked over the first toy. What happened next shocked and stunned the researchers. Instead of playing gleefully the little boy systematically opened every single package in the room and rejected each of the toys in turn. The researchers heard him whining: “These aren’t like my toys at home. These toys will never work. Where are the video games! “Its hot in here. I don’t have any friends to play with.”  The complaining went on and on until soon, exhausted from his own negativity, he sat down in the middle of the room and with a big pout on his face he angrily shouted “I’m bored and I want to go home.”     
The researchers had been so mesmerized by this display of pessimism and negativity that they had almost forgotten about the second little boy who had been place in the room full of manure. They quickly shifted their attention to the second room and peering through the observation window, were stopped in their tracks. They had expected to see the little boy sitting on the pile sad and crying. But instead, he was standing on top of the pile wildly shoveling horse manure. To the amazement of the entire research team, he was animated, excited, alive, and happy. He kept digging and digging and shouting with glee. He was covered with manure from head to toe and he was ecstatic. The researchers looked one another in awe – the child seemed delirious.  
Cautiously one of the scientists opened the door to the room and tried to get the boy’s attention.  However, he was so focused on digging that it took a few minutes to get his attention. Finally the boy stopped what he was doing, turned around, and faced the scientist. Looking with amazement at the manure covered child the researcher asked, “Son, what in the world are you doing?” With that question, a huge grin crossed the boy’s face and with the same enthusiasm he had given to digging he replied, “Sir, with all this manure I just know there is pony in here somewhere and I’m going to find him!”  With that he turned around and started digging.