Every morning before I leave the house for work, I kiss my wife. She always says, “Have a good day”, and I always reply, “I’ll do my best” I almost never meet the day with optimism. I could easily blame this on my career, due to the almost constant crisis mode required to perform well. Of course, that wouldn’t true. I could blame my critical outlook on the numerous situations I’ve dealt with over the years, from court cases to financial disaster to relationships gone wrong. I could claim they jaded me & twisted my perspective on life, but this too would be dishonest. I’ve been critical instead of optimistic for as many years as I can remember. My son is the opposite. He meets each morning with happiness. It’s one of my favorite things about him. I envy his unbridled enthusiasm.
Cynicism for me, I’ve come to realize, is nothing more than a defense mechanism. It’s how I protect the sensitive soul deep within. It’s part of how I disengage with the world so I am not crushed by its horrific atrocities. A manager of mine once told me, “Leave some of that cynicism for when you get older & more disillusioned or there will be nothing left” I maintain, to this day, cynics are the most optimistic people. It’s just we also have felt the reality when our optimism has been ground into fine dust by terrible acts. So now we lower expectations. Now we reign in our enthusiasm, hope, & trust. It’s still there deep inside. It’s just very well hidden. We hope for the best. We expect the worst. We are pleasantly surprised when anything good happens. We are disgusted when the worst happens, but not crushed because we expected it. We have learned to put our faith in the lowest bar set by humankind. I guess, in a weird sort of reverse perspective, our cynicism is optimism for the bad outcomes. Bad behavior is PAR for the course to such a degree, I no longer expect good behavior. Good behavior is shocking to me!
I don’t know how much time you dragons spend inside your head, but I spend most of my time inside mine. I try to be self-aware. So I need to try to be honest with myself & separate what is real from what is perceived, what is true from what is false. And possibly even more important, identify if I need to make any changes & create a plan to implement any changes. I’m left with mostly questions, rather than answers. However, questions are an important key. Today I have answer a question about my cynicism. I have my argument, & I know why I use it. I know it’s comfortable. I know I like being critical. However, it is a really valid argument? Does it really protect me? Is it really a place for me to hide instead of interact with the world around me?
It is a place to hide. It is a comfortable place. It is where I feel at home. And, it is not really a valid argument. At least it’s not anymore. Now is the time to stop living in my world of cynics & criticism. It is time to embrace the gift, the gift of each day I get to live – struggles & all. Life will never be all bubbles & kisses, but the quickest way to assure any part of it won’t be, is to embrace an expectation of the worst outcome. Without realizing it, we tap into a self-fulfilling visualization of the future. Our minds are powerful. More powerful than we realize. If we focus our thoughts on the good, if we set the bar high instead of low we are sure to have more disappointment, however, we are going to see more good things happen as well.
It won’t be an easy change. I’ve been cynical, like I said earlier, for more of my life than not. I have relied on it. Now, I want to change. I know I won’t change a lifetime of cynicism overnight. Like everything else it will be a process, & it won’t be easy. However, it will be simple. Here is my plan: instead of saying “I’ll do my best” now I’m going to say “I will”
Little changes & steps in this very moment are the bricks which build the foundation to our lives. If you want to build a strong foundation and an amazing life, then you must focus on the seemingly insignificant details. Details like changing what you say, and how you say it.
Be the change that you wish to see in the world ― Mahatma Gandhi