9 votes

Opt out of cynicism

4 comments

  1. vord
    Link
    While I am no longer religious, the Serenity Prayer is still a fantastic bit of wisdom: Cynicism has its place there. It's part of that acceptance. Maybe that cynicism is misplaced (on account of...

    While I am no longer religious, the Serenity Prayer is still a fantastic bit of wisdom:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

    Cynicism has its place there. It's part of that acceptance. Maybe that cynicism is misplaced (on account of the wisdom bit). But for me at least, applying that cynicism shortcut helps keep my face out of stuff that is more or less a waste of time.

    We're on the brink of an economic crisis worse than the Great Depression. The fact that it's happening again shows that our economic model hasn't changed too substantially in the last 100 years.

    Superficial change is ending "Don't ask, don't tell." The fundamental change is weakening the war machine in which it existed. Which, best I can tell, hasn't really happened since before 1776.

    So I am cynical about those. I will focus my efforts on surviving the next economic bust and avoiding participation in the war machine as much as possible instead.

    4 votes
  2. [2]
    Gaywallet
    Link
    I don't really consider myself an optimist, or view myself as cynical either. Instead, I like to reframe the thinking altogether. I'd like you to stop for a moment and try to itemize everything...

    I don't really consider myself an optimist, or view myself as cynical either.

    Instead, I like to reframe the thinking altogether. I'd like you to stop for a moment and try to itemize everything you did today that you were motivated to do but not in the 'wow I want to do this' kind of way, but the 'I should do this' kind of way. Did you make your bed when you got up in the morning? Did you choose to make breakfast instead of consuming something pre-packed. Perhaps you spent a few minutes on coffee or tea instead? Did you clean up in the kitchen at all? Take out the trash? Did you reply to a text or an email that you didn't particularly care about, but had to follow up with? Did you field a call from a random number? Check your mail? Organize your desk? There's a lot we do, every day, with our time because we choose to spend our time on it. Sometimes it's things we are really passionate about - our hobbies, our loved ones, and if we're extremely lucky, some aspects of our work. But sometimes it's not, it's small choices we make that in the long run don't add up to much - they might be entirely up to the whim of the fates even. Maybe you decide to wash the dishes later tonight instead when you look at them, or maybe even tomorrow.

    I like to take time to acknowledge all of this that happens in our life because we have a lot more time than we often give ourselves credit for. Sometimes we even have space to eat a little into our hobbies when obligations pile up, but this also means we have time to spend on things we are passionate about. It is absolutely possible to hold a mindset that the work that you are doing is unlikely to affect change on a major scale, but to take pride in what you are able to accomplish on a small scale. If I take an hour out of my week to volunteer to clean up trash or educate others or volunteer at a local homeless shelter and borrow it from the time I spend on my hobbies, will I be able to solve human environmental destruction or education or the health of un-housed individuals? I don't have to be optimistic and expect an outcome that likely will not happen. I could also take the cynical approach and decide it would make more sense to spend that time on my hobbies instead, but if I were to compare how I might feel at the end of the week having spent a measly hour on this rather than myself, how do you think I'll feel? I don't have to be optimistic or cynical about the outcome to reap the benefits of simply doing something that will help me feel accomplished. The more people who are capable of doing this, the more collective change we might be able to enact.

    4 votes
    1. rosco
      Link Parent
      That's a really beautiful perspective. Thanks for sharing.

      That's a really beautiful perspective. Thanks for sharing.

      4 votes
  3. Rez
    Link
    Cynicism only has its place when it's useful. Most of the time, a cynical attitude is not useful. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change your world, and a cynical attitude...

    Cynicism only has its place when it's useful. Most of the time, a cynical attitude is not useful. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change your world, and a cynical attitude will prevent people from putting the effort in to try to effect some change in their lives for the better. For many people, it's an excuse for inaction, passivity and being reactive instead of active. By contrast, cynicism can be useful for coping with problems truly beyond the scope of your individual agency, like the threat of climate change.

    Optimism by contrast is to me not so much a naive belief that things will work out magically, but just having the willingness to gamble your effort on something that isn't 100% guaranteed to pay off. You'll still have to make your judgment calls as to what's worth risking your limited time and effort on of course, but you should definitely always be putting regular effort into something that has the chance to improve or maintain your situation, whether it's fitness, socializing, professional networking, education, etc. I don't think lifelong cynics end up achieving very much in most of the ways that matter so you have to ask yourself what's the use of cynicism if it's not practical?

    4 votes