Once upon a time in the lovely community of Tuxedo, New York, a man and his wife purchased a beautiful large Tudor-style house. They had just been married and although the house was far too big for the two of them, they anticipated having a large family whom they could nurture and love in it.
As it happened, the wife got pregnant shortly after they moved in and gave birth to identical twin boys. Sadly, due to the complications associated with their birth, she couldn’t have any additional children. But the couple loved their home and decided to raise these beautiful children in it.
The two brothers were inseparable. Their parents dressed them alike and treated them in exactly the same way. Yet as their two boys aged, they began to notice a great difference in their attitudes. The one boy was always seeing the negative in things while his brother could always find something positive to admire. They were the ultimate examples of pessimism and optimism.
Nothing made this clearer to the parents than when one Christmas they purchased a wonderful electronic toy – one for each of their boys. As the children unwrapped this present, their pessimistic son just looked at it and stared sadly.
“Why don’t you play with it,?” his dad asked.
His son replied, “If I play with it I might break it – and then it wouldn’t work any more.”
Meanwhile his brother was busily engaged, enjoying his new present.
His father said, “Son, aren’t you afraid like your brother that you might break your new toy? What would you do then?”
His optimistic son replied, “I’d try to figure out a way to fix it.”
While the parents didn’t want to show any preference towards their children, they realized that their optimistic son was going to have a far more enjoyable life than his brother. And they hoped to find a way to show the pessimistic twin how much more rewarding his life would be if he adopted his brother’s philosophy.
They tried everything that they could think of. They read all the books on child rearing that they could find – yet nothing seemed to have the answers to solve their problem. So in desperation, they finally found an eminent psychiatrist and explained their situation to him. Could he help them?
“Of course,” said the psychiatrist. (If you’ve ever met a psychiatrist who said anything else I’d like his name and phone number. I might use him myself). So they scheduled an appointment for a week’s time hence.
The family met with the psychiatrist in his office and after an hour-long interview, he asked that the children sit outside in his waiting room while he finished speaking with their parents.
After the children had gone, the psychiatrist asked if they had two large empty rooms in their home. He wanted to conduct an assessment on his young patients but he wanted it to be in their own environment so that they weren’t stressed or distracted by being in an unfamiliar place.
The parents said that they did have two empty rooms which the psychiatrist could use for his observation.
The psychiatrist said, “I know you will think this is strange but I would like you to fill up each of these rooms with horse manure.” (The parents thought that this was indeed strange). But the psychiatrist went on to say, “Trust me – I know what I’m doing.” The parents agreed to go along with this unusual request.
The day the psychiatrist was to arrive for his observation, the two rooms were filled with horse manure as he had requested. When he got to the house, the psychiatrist asked each of the children to go into one of the rooms which had been prepared. He told them that they would have to spend an hour in the room and then he would come in to speak with them.
When the hour passed, he went first into the room of the pessimistic twin. He found him sitting as far away from any of the manure as he could get with a very sad and dour expression on his face.
The psychiatrist said to him, “Why do you look so sad?”
The young boy said, “Who wouldn’t be sad? It smells so bad in here and there are flies all over the place that I’ve been trying to keep away from me for all the time I’ve been stuck in here.”
The psychiatrist said to him that he had only to wait a few minutes more and he could leave the room and clean up – after the psychiatrist had spoken with his brother.
The psychiatrist then went into the second room to find the optimistic twin with a big smile on his face. He was tossing horse manure with his hands against the walls and had dug a fairly deep hole in it. He was covered with manure from head to toe.
The psychiatrist looked at him and said, “My goodness you’re a mess. But you seem so excited and I don’t understand why. This room smells awful and there are flies buzzing all over the place. Why are you so happy?”
The little boy responded, “Well, doctor, I figure that if there’s this much horse manure in the room, there has to be a pony somewhere!”
Moral: At some point in our lives we all have horse manure dumped on us. How we choose to handle it is up to each of us.