How to Stop Being Cynical
(As published in UpJourney)
Consider the people you surround yourself with
After all, it’s hard to break habits when everyone around you is doing the same thing. So if you find that many of your friends or family members are cynical too, either try to get them on board to change as well or start surrounding yourself with people who have a more positive attitude.
Cynicism includes basically two components: an antipathy towards (other people’s) values and a withdrawal from community involvement.
Cynics tend to distrust other people’s motives, expecting that self-interest rather than virtue lies behind most human interactions. On the surface, this attitude seems to be “realistic”, a more appropriate world outlook than the rosy views espoused by the “softies” who would assume a “benevolent until proven otherwise” stance.
Cynics might claim that they are less likely to be taken advantage of, and less likely to be thrown for a loop by adversity, because they were more or less expecting the worst of others anyhow.
One can’t convince a cynic that their outlook is wrong, actually.
Life is full of injustice and history has innumerable examples where virtue did not triumph, hypocrisy won the day, and fortune smiled or frowned on the undeserving.
A more effective argument is that cynicism is no fun. In particular, it’s hard to have true and full friendships if one has a black view of everything.
Though occasionally very successful people may be cynics, cynicism is more likely to follow disillusionment and disappointment combined with feelings of ineffectiveness and hopelessness.
True success might be defined as living in congruence with one’s own values, whatever they are. I believe it’s hard to be trusting of one’s own values if you can’t find communion in the world with others. And that requires some level of empathy and hope.
Benjamin H. Ticho, M.D.
Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Ticho Eye Associates