My second novel, The Astonishing Anniversaries of James and David: Part One, is all about twins growing up in East Yorkshire whose futures take very different paths.
The Story was partly inspired by Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. In Russell’s musical, twins are separated at birth. One is raised by their mother in a poor area of Liverpool but she gives the other boy to her rich, childless employer.
Russell wrote the play in Thatcherite Britain, he was trying to show that nuture, the environment in which a child is raised, can have a significant effect on the opportunities the child is presented with and therefore how successful that child will ultimately become.
My own novel looks at the issue of nature. My premise was that, as a result of chemicals in the brain, people are born either predominantly happy and satisfied with their lot in life or their default setting is unhappy dissatisfaction with their experience.
I based this hypothesis on observations that people whose equilibrium is happy might suffer setbacks like the death of a loved one, illness or loss of limb but they make the best of it and sooner or later they will rediscover their default happy mood.
People born with their glass half empty will return to this pessimistic position no matter what happens to them. They could even win the lottery but sooner or later they will find themselves back at their default position where they are dissatisfied with life.
I do believe it is possible to change this default position and I think a child’s environment, especially during the formative years can have a significant effect at determining whether a child grows up to be a satisfied or dissatisfied adult.
Later in life I think it is much more difficult to shift this default position to more happy, I’m not sure why anyone would want to shift it the other way. However, I do think it is possible and techniques like meditation have a very important role in retraining the brain.
What do you think? Do you agree with my hypothesis? Do you know of any research which has attempted to investigate this issue? If so, let me know by posting a comment below.