I am finicky when it comes to chocolates. I’m a big dessert person, but not a big candy person. If I’m going to indulge in something so unabashedly rich and indulgent, I want to really love it. If I bite into a chocolate and discover orange crème (ugh…) I throw it out. Not worth it. (Also, orange crème is kind of gross.) My favorites are Russell Stover’s Roman Nougat and Teuscher Champagne Truffles. Those I will eat until I hate myself. Anything else gets a lukewarm response out of me.
IEP’s approach differs greatly from my own. In his world it’s quite simple. There are no duds. Period. All chocolates are wonderful. All chocolates are treats. No filling – not cherry caramel, not coconut, not even orange crème – yields disappointment.
I first noticed this back in December when my mother included a one-pound box of assorted chocolates amongst IEP’s other Christmas gifts. (And I was reminded of it again when she gave him a much smaller box on a recent visit.) He eagerly made his way through the box (with some help, of course) without expressing a single concern about what he would find inside. I’d never seen anyone pick chocolates out of a box without even asking about the filling. It was a complete nonissue. I was astounded. Perhaps it was because in my family growing up finding sneaky (and always unsuccessful) ways to investigate fillings before committing to a chocolate was at least common practice if not full-throttle sport. You did not want to bite into something without knowing first whether it was going to be good. But in IEP’s brain there’s no reason to even ask what’s inside. It’s candy. Of course it’s going to be good.
It’s a mindset that many of us would do well to apply to our lives more often. Many of us struggle to maintain such a strong sense of positivity and we too easily find what went wrong in a given situation, rather than what went right. To a great extent we choose how we experience the world arround us. Choosing to see the good can go a long way in our enjoyment of many things. Sitting down to read a book is always a treat (even if we get interrupted). Going out to a movie is always a treat (even if the show wasn’t that great). Eating food that someone else prepared is always a treat (even if it wasn’t precisely what you were in the mood for). Getting out for a nice long run is always a treat (even if you take more walk breaks than you wish you had). And eating a chocolate is always a treat, even if there’s orange crème on the inside.
Optimism and positivity can also run amok. When we constantly proclaim that everything is good, nothing is ever wrong, and we only see joy and happiness everywhere we look we cease to see the world honestly. We must allow space for the real and genuine admissions of the things we find disappointing, hurtful, or lacking in some way. But given how easy it is to go down the rabbit hole of all that goes wrong, I think that for many of us (myself included), a course correction to IEP’s “there are no duds” philosophy could be a very good thing.
I expect that someday my son’s approach to chocolates may become more conventional. Someday he may develop preferences that lead him to poke a hole in the bottom, bite off a corner, or slice a chocolate completely in half before popping it into his mouth. But in the meantime I will applaud his open-mindedness and optimism. And I will try to adopt it myself.