The Muselet #49: No More Cynicism

Wikipedia:

Cynicism is an attitude characterized by a general distrust of others' motives. A cynic may have a general lack of faith or hope in people motivated by ambition, desire, greed, gratification, materialism, goals, and opinions that a cynic perceives as vain, unobtainable, or ultimately meaningless and therefore deserving of ridicule or admonishment. 

I’ve written many times about the topic of people’s intentions. I covered it in Zef’s Razor and later in The Muselet.

What some don’t realize is that people often talk and go deep on topics that they struggle with. Yes, I see a lot of cynicism in my environment, but it’s not like I’m completely cynicism-free myself.

I, from time to time, find myself thinking cynically. It’s just so easy. And for a second, it makes you feel a bit better about yourself. I guess?

A picture on Facebook of somebody at a beach. Show off!

A post on LinkedIn about getting a promotion. Brag!

A blog post about shipping a new product feature. Great strategy to claim the massive delay on this as a win!

A manager highlighting some achievement of a team member from some months ago. So what has this person been up to lately?

I’m a terrible person.

Further down the Wikipedia page on Cynisism:

people with high levels of cynical distrust were three times more likely to develop dementia than people with low levels of cynicism.

cynical individuals tended to treat others with disrespect, which in turn predicted more disrespectful treatment by others.

Yeah, this is not good.

So, I came up with a strategy to train myself to change this mindset. No more cynicism!

The idea is very simple in theory: rather than coming up with the quick, whimsy cynical explanation of why somebody shares something, explain how this positively contributes to the world at large.

A picture on Facebook of somebody at a beach. We all work hard, and people are generally bad at taking sufficient vacation. Burn-outs happen all the time, especially the last year. This person is setting a good example!

A post on LinkedIn about getting a promotion. This person grew a lot very quickly and must be making an impact in their company. Good for them!

A blog post about shipping a new product feature. Even though we had hoped to ship this feature earlier, software is hard, we all know it. The team put in a lot of effort and got it over the finish line. Let’s celebrate!

A manager highlighting some achievement of a team member from some months ago. That’s a great achievement!

Try it.

The world will be better for it.

You can do it.