A father had twin sons who, in spite of identical appearance, were actually total opposites. The first, for instance, was a gloomy pessimist who spent his days moaning and groaning. But the second was an eternal optimist, ever-confident that everything would work out well in the end.
Now, when it came to their birthday, their Dad was curious to see what would happen if he bought them gifts matching their temperaments, so the pessimist received a giant stack of every imaginable video game, while the son who was the optimist had his bedroom filled with manure.
Later that morning he found his pessimist son in his room sobbing his heart out.
‘What on earth’s the matter?’ he asked.
‘Oh, everything,’ said the boy, ‘My friends will all be jealous now, I’m not going to have time to play all these games, they’ll soon be outdated anyway, and half of them are certain to be boring.’
Shrugging, the father next called on his other son’s room, where he found the boy shrieking with delight as he leaped up and down in waist-deep manure.
‘Wow. Why are you so happy?’ he enquired.
‘Well,’ explained son number two, ‘With this much manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.’
The world is full of some who see their glass as half-full and others who see it as half-empty, but there’s no denying that those of us who experience gloomy spells have a tendency to become more pessimistic during such low times.
Are pessimistic people more likely to suffer from depression? Maybe. Does depression increase levels of pessimism? Very probably.
What’s important to recognise, however, is that in some ways optimism can be regarded as a skill, and like all skills you really can get better at it. If you practice being optimistic there’s every possibility that your mood will get lifted as a result.
One great exercise for building your optimism muscle is to imagine a perfect day somewhere in your future (ten years is good), then to write a detailed description of where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing etc. Having done this myself I can vouch for it being a fun activity – whether or not it ever comes true, but that isn’t what’s important.
It’s simply really refreshing to spend time with optimistic, positive thoughts every once in a while.
Then maybe you’ll come to see that whatever kind of bad day you’re having, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.