don't be a cynic

Today we ask that you not be cynical. 

Cynicism is a very easy stance.  It is the stance of the wounded romantic, the wounded dreamer, who points to the cruelties of the world and says: “It is all hopeless, it is meaningless.  This is a horrible world, and anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this is a delusional fool.”

Often it is considered intelligent to be cynical.  It is considered a mark of wisdom.  Intellectuals are classically cynics.  After all, only a stupid fool would not be cynical, in this world.

This is really nonsense.

It is normal for everyone to go through cynical phases.  Adolescents and young adults often pride themselves on their cynicism.  It is cool to be a cynic, to tear everything down, to see the world as a purely horrible, oppressive place.  It is cool to hate stories with happy endings, to see such stories as fantasies, inauthentic to tragic human experience.

But really, this is nonsense.

It is a sign of true maturity and wisdom to transcend cynicism.  To fall back in love with the world and life, even with your eyes open to all its horrors.

True wisdom and maturity lies in appreciation.  Appreciation of all the beauty and kindness that is around you.  The beauty of the sunrise, the green plants.  The food you eat.  Modern conveniences like running water, the joy of the hot shower.  You are surrounded by miracles.

Sometimes it is not so easy to see this.  But please do not believe the cynics who say that all smart people know life is empty and meaningless.  This is a lie.

There is nothing intelligent about that point of view.  It is the perspective of the brooding adolescent.

Life is not horrible.  If you believe it is, then yes, you may very well experience life as being horrible.  You look around and see nothing but misery and horror.

Your beliefs are like a pair of glasses.

If you believe life is horrible, the glasses will filter out everything that doesn’t reflect horror and misery.  You will only perceive what you expect to perceive.  Everything you see will confirm your cynical worldview.

If you believe life is miraculous, then you are wearing glasses that will allow you to perceive miracles everywhere you go.

These are not “rose-colored glasses.”  It is not about being delusional.

However, if you had a choice, and you do…

What would you prefer to wear?

So-called “rose-colored glasses”?

Or glasses caked with foul-smelling slime?

If you enjoy being a cynic, then by all means, be cynical.

But it is more likely that you will enjoy life far more with gratitude and optimism.

Really, the truth is that someone who cultivates gratitude is wearing the clear, clean glasses.  It is the cynic who wears glasses caked with dirt.