A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word. Ralph W Emerson
We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs. Kenneth Clark
A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future. Sidney J. Harris
Cynicism is a handicapped way of thinking that should be avoided if our goal is to become the best person we can become. Always doubting, distrusting and expecting the worst prevents us from developing our true potential. We tend to become whatever it is that we think about. Life tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Cynicism is basically the same as negative thinking but it more of a reflection of distrust and skepticism. The opposite extreme, “Pollyannaism” is blindly or foolishly trusting and optimistic. Neither of these characteristics is desirable. As it is with many things in this life, a proper balance is the desired choice. To excel at personal growth and development and to maximize our potential, we need to “err” on the side of optimism and “positivity”.
Being a cynic adversely affects our relationships with families, friends and co-workers. Opportunities to meet people and have meaningful relationships with them, is diminished. If our livelihood is dependent upon meeting people and entering into relationships, we are probably doomed to failure if we have a cynical personality. Cynics justify their cynicism by saying people are selfish, dishonest, mean, and out to hurt or take advantage. They are very untrusting of others.
There are those who warrant our distrust. It is “irrational” and unhealthy to distrust everyone. Being a cynic is like being a recluse or hermit; isolating one’s self because of fear of any interaction with others. Cynicism is really a defense mechanism which justifies a life of isolation because of undue fear and a lack of courage.
Sometimes we will be “victimized” or “taken advantage of” when trusting others. We will sometimes get “burned”. It is also true that we will experience rich and rewarding relationships. We will have our share of successes. Life does not promise us that all of our experience with others will be joyful and wonderful. It does require that we try. Every aspect of life has a good and a bad side. Life has to be experienced, not avoided. We learn and grow through our experiences, both good and bad. When we have a bad experience we should to be sure to learn the good that can be gleaned and go on and engage the next new experience. We grow by action and interaction. Avoid being overly cynical. It is unhealthy and unwise for our mental health and well-being.
Challenge: Would you describe yourself as a “cynic?” If so, be very aware of the negative consequences this probably means to you. It is a handicap that will limit your ability to experience life and to develop your full potential. You will not grow, develop, and become your best by avoiding; you must engage, experience, and learn. Knowledge and wisdom results from being fully involved and engaged in Life 101. You cannot skip this course. It is required learning.
Wisdom: Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try. Peggy Noonan
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16
Cynicism is a cop-out. It gives the cynic an excuse to bad-mouth, criticize, opt-out, and condemn. Not only is it counter-productive, it is destructive. Our world is rampant with this dreaded disease. Those who believe in God and have a healthy and growing relationship with him should not be living life as a cynic. There is every reason to be joyful and confident. We know through faith that everything will come together according to God’s will and purpose. Why worry?
Prayer: Help me to overcome any cynicism in my life. Give me the strength to expect the best of others.