The Optimist and the Pessimist

The Optimist and the Pessimist

by Joe Smart joe.smart737@gmail.com One of my nieces was taking an ESL class and asked me to explain the words optimist and pessimist. I responded with a story I heard many years ago. Some psychologists wanted to examine the differences between optimists and pessimists, so they recruited two young boys. One boy was known to be a joyful optimist; the other was known to be an unrelenting pessimist. They put the pessimistic boy in a room filled with toys, cake, and ice cream. They put the optimistic boy in a room filled with horse manure. After an hour, they observed the pessimistic boy. He was sitting in the room, crying his heart out. He hadn’t played with any of the toys or eaten any of the sweets. “Why are you crying?” the psychologists asked. “Why haven’t you enjoyed yourself?” “I’m so sad!” the boy sobbed. “If I play with the toys, I’ll probably break them and get scolded, and if I eat any of the cake, I’ll probably get a stomach ache!” The boy was inconsolable. Then the doctors looked into the room where the optimistic boy had been imprisoned. To their astonishment, he had a big grin on his face! He was jumping up and down, whooping and hollering, and throwing the horse manure all over. “What on earth are you doing?” they asked. “You are up to your knees in dirty, smelly horse manure!” “Well,” the boy cried cheerfully, “with all this horse poop, there has to be a pony here someplace, and I’m going to find it!” I know my nieces face a difficult future. I hope they will always search for the pony.
The Optimist and the Pessimist December 17, 2009

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