Sunday, January 25, 2009

Passing Cynicism on the Road to Recovery

Cynicism - An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity.

When I grew up, my peers and I were told by teachers, parents, television, politicians, the tales of historical figures, etc, that we could accomplish anything.

The sky was the limit.

If you put your mind to it, anything was possible.

When I became a teenager and grew into an adult, I started realizing that wasn't true.

What was true is that life was a hard, complicated thing.

What was true was that there was very little that was cool that was really optimistic or hopeful.

What was true was the plentiful hilarity to be found in mocking those who still clung to the "childish" belief that gosh darn it, you really could do whatever you put your mind to!

What losers; still in denial to the harsh realities of life. They weren't as sophisticated as me, clearly.

They just didn't "get it".


Now, to be clear, I didn't grow up into a pessimistic beatnik poet or something, but I feel I did succumb to a common thing I've seen in this society: coping with life while growing up, which is hard, through developing a sense of cynicism.

Like many things that seem so genius and had a hand in guiding my actions during my teens and early twenties, I am glad to say my position has changed for the better on the issue.

I'm really glad my position has changed.

Because cynicism is fucking garbage. It's poison.

You know what cynicism does?

It keeps us from things we might end up enjoying: movies, books, music, art, etc. No way we'd ever watch THAT type of a movie. No way we'd listen to country, jazz, classical, rock, or whatever. Ha, that's a good one. People who listen to *insert genre/artist/song here* are ridiculous. No way.

It tells us the powerful quotes of inspiration and truth we hear are just superficial cliches with no real value to us.

It stops us from going to the store to buy healthy food because all those mean people there will just laugh, and point and stare anyway.

It keeps us from deeper, more meaningful relationships with people because how can we ever really be vulnerable with them, trust them, and get close. After all what are their motives? What are they really after? They'll probably just hurt us or use us.

It tells us screw it, no point applying for that job. Nobody wants to hire a big fat person, they'll just discriminate against us. It'll be a waste of time. Why even bother?

It snidely asks what's different about us? Why won't we fail, and fade into the faceless obscurity of the unsuccessful statistical majority? Why?

It tells us to give up, we can't really change. We're kidding ourselves. We're being the same as those obnoxious, relentlessly hopeful bastards who spew their lies from the pages of self help books, motivational speaker conventions, and pulpits all over this county. So snap out of it, it can't be done. Get real.

But all of that is false.

Cynicism shuts doors in life. It closes the windows. It destroys possibility, and opportunity.

It limits, it narrows.

There's nothing smart, or sophisticated, or mature, or wise, or good about it.

Because, wow, what a life is cynicism huh? Missing out on music that could've grown into a great joy in your life, spending copious time mocking others for who they are or what they enjoy, not even applying for the job that could've launched a new direction in your career, getting fat on fast food and delivery because you can't face the people at the neighborhood market, missing out on a friendship or romantic relationship that could've lasted a life time and/or provided lessons, learning, fun, and growth. Being paranoid, suspicious, bitter, hateful, scornful, angry, jaded, prideful, arrogant.

I want to keep moving away from that

I want to spend my life acknowledging reality (including the negative), but FOCUSING on the positives.

I want to spend my life being open to people, experiences, ideas, actions, etc.

I want to spend life fighting that urge inside that can counter a hopeful, optimistic thought with nagging doubt and a mocking dismissal.

I want to remember that I CAN accomplish my goals, and the goals that will come after that, and the ones I can't even begin to foresee that will come after that.

I'll end with some quotes who's truth, earnestness, and hope I choose to no longer ridicule or doubt.

Instead, I choose to work hard to manifest their truth in my life.

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” --Dr. Seuss

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." --Colin Powell

"Whether you think you can or can't, you're right"--Henry Ford


  1. Thanks for that! I needed this today! I have been cynical all day and needed something to snap me out of it! You did that!!

  2. God, cynicism ran a good portion of my life. It's hard to turn a 180, but I'm trying. It's so true that by allowing negativity to consume you, you aren't capable of reaching your full potential. Great post as always.

  3. Yes, great post as always. Love the quotes at the end too.

  4. Your posts are always so thought provoking. I enjoy reading your thoughts. You are obviously a very intelligent person.

    I agree, cynicism is nothing but destructive.

    It's opposite, in my opinion, is HOPE.

    I'm glad you have decided to shed the destruction and put on hope.

    Those are some of my favorite quotes, as well.

  5. "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” --Dr. Seuss

    Were more intelligent words ever spoken?

    Sometimes it is so hard to remember that if is so much better to fight the cynicism than to take the easy path and give in to it. Great insights here.

  6. Cynicism is something I fight every day. It is so much easier to be cynical than to open myself up for rejection. Thank you for this really made me think.

  7. My brother... What a fantastic post!

    I know you didn't, but I feel like you wrote it for me. My cynicism kept me from doing so many things. I lost my twenties and thirties to it. I have closed so many doors that could have lead to wonderful things.

    I am fighting to change how I deal with everything. I'm opening my eyes to new things, but I'm still fighting the old stuff. Thank you for addressing this issue. I really needed to read your words.

    I hope you have a great week!

  8. wow so true yet so hard to forget. i see the deep belief that my kids have in santa, tooth fairy you name it and i want that back. the hope that anything is possible. not sure when we leave that by the side of the road. im going back and picking mine up, anybody want a ride?

  9. Cynicism sucks the life out of life.
    I'm happy to hear that you're working on eliminating toxic thoughts from your head.
    I think in a way I'm getting some positivity back with practice. Not in all areas at the same time but in the weight loss aspect anyway.
    I'm a sucker for postive & motivating quotes.
    I love the Dr. Seuss quote. It's hard to be vulnerable like that all the time but it's so true.

  10. I just discovered your blog and love your writing, as well as your approach in this ourney. I wish you the best of luck and will be checking back!

  11. Your wisdom astounds me, and your way of articulating here in these blogs. This was one of the best posts I have read thus far. I would not consider myself a cynic but I personally am diligently working in my life to turn thoughts to the positive. Being a cynic and being negative gets your life nowhere fast. Keep up all the good work you are doing.

  12. Great post! I've decided long ago that I'll be the one with the stars in my eyes... Call me naive, but I like my way of looking at things just fine!

  13. "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” --Dr. Seuss

    So true, great blog post!

  14. Dude! Get out of my head! You are freaking me right out.

    Hope wasn't cool by about the time I got to about 2nd grade. I stopped hanging around with her, walked away and didn't look back.

    I'm also trying to get reacquainted with her now, but we've been apart so long it is like we are strangers. There is a lot of catching up to do.

    I chose the handle I did, "Hopefool", as a reaction to the thinking you've written about here. Being hopeful feels foolish, but I'm learning to live with it.