The Great Fight Against Cynicism
A pet-peeve of mine is cynical people. The kind of people that never offer any helpful attitudes and instead seemingly act jaded and scorned. Defined as “an attitude that is characterized by general distrust or lack of faith of other peoples motivations and ambitions; a general lack of faith in the human race”, cynicism is a cancer that eats away at the mind brick by brick. I have some incredibly cynical friends – they’re quick to criticize, quick to act jealous of the success of those around them, and have little motivation to improve their own lives. I use the word “stifling” a lot when describing road blocks we encounter – I honestly believe cynicism from the people around you can be one of the most stifling experiences anyone seeking success will encounter.
I confess that I was once a jaded cynic. I used to spend nights with my other cynical friends moaning about how anything that people did was completely worthless and meaningless. I was jealous of some of the successes of my other friends. I was bitter about how I was single, fat, and poor. And I never once considered myself to be responsible. I spent years running from the truth that, deep down, I knew was true – that I was the reason for my own problems. I’ve mentioned before the various steps I took to transform myself – and it took a lot. When you’re very cynical you often hate the happiness of others. The reason? You can’t comprehend why they are happy when you yourself are not. Personally, and I’ve seen some psychology that at least suggests this, cynicism is like a depression mindguard. When I started to see that I was responsible for my own crappy life, I started to be less cynical and more depressed. Suddenly life wasn’t this big jerk bullying me around – I didn’t have any excuses left.
What cured me? A long two years of continued self-accomplishment. Taking control of my life forced me to confront my inner demons in ways I never thought possible. I used to hate life – I didn’t see good in the world, I didn’t see worth in the people around me, and I thought that life was about how much people hurt one another. It took exercise, conscious effort, and actual charitable work to help me snap out of it and start seeing the good around me.
The Stifling Aspect of Cynicism
After forcing myself out of it, I really have come to despise cynicism from other people. I have friends jealous of people in relationships. Friends jealous of people with great jobs. Friends unhappy with their own lives – it’s obvious as day and night – but would never admit it. I can’t handle being around them for long periods of time anymore. It stifles me beyond recognition and kills my motivation. The reason behind that is simple: a cynic often attacks your dreams even if they don’t intend to. I’ve had some crazy, wacky ideas in the past that I really wanted to get off the ground. The moment the news came before two of my cynical friends they started firing ‘what-if’ scenarios at me and asking me what I would do if I failed. In fact, that’s all they focused on. By the end of the conversation, I was second-guessing myself and ready to start back from square one. A pep-talk from a few other friends nights later snapped me back to reality.
For the record, the idea – a website – it failed. Nobody noticed it, nobody found interest in it. The money for webhosting went down the drain. And the moment the friends I talked about caught wind, they practically taunted me about with with as many “I told you so”’s as you can imagine. By that point (and I had given up after about a year to start focusing on other opportunities), I was far our of their reach in trying to keep me down with their negative attitudes. Sure, I lost maybe one hundred dollars. I put work into a site that never truly saw the light of day. But I never regretted giving it a shot – even for a moment. Why? I learned a ton about the internet, I became a better writer, and I have more knowledge about website design than I would have had I not done it. It was a learning experience, one that I did use in the future. Not a single regret from that experience.
A lot of people hate life. They might not say it to your face, but they walk around thinking about it. They don’t see a big picture, meaning, or any source of motivation. They lack any passion at all. As you’ve read this, do you at all feel this way?
My point from all these stories is that being cynical hinders your success. Cynicism tells you to not take chances because they won’t work anyway. Cynicism tells you that life is about luck and that you have no chance other than a random one. I can promise you that it’s crap – failures happen, sure, but success is something that you yourself can achieve; those failures can easily transform themselves into successes. Be proud of the success of the people around you – for all you know that might be a networking opportunity in the future. See some good in the world – it’s all around you. If you don’t see it, start looking for where it exists. Make that effort.
Make no mistake – I’m not telling people to be hopeless optimists that expect success right out of the gate. It will require hard work and dedication, there’s no doubt about that. As for dealing with people, it’s also good to use discretion – not everyone is bad, but there are people to watch out for. There’s a healthy degree of cynicism in any action – we all should consider mishaps that can occur. We shouldn’t, however, let it stop us from committing ourselves to our goals and dreams. Be realistic, but don’t be negative.