There are very few things I truly hate. Cynicism is number one on that list. According to Mr. Webster’s 1913 dictionary, a cynic is “one who holds views resembling those of the Cynics; a snarler; a misanthrope; particularly, a person who believes that human conduct is directed, either consciously or unconsciously, wholly by self-interest or self-indulgence, and that appearances to the contrary are superficial and untrustworthy.”
To constantly see the world in the worst light, always suspicious of the motives and actions of others – sounds like a living hell to me. Most cynics mask their cynicism under the guise of “realism.” And, yes, I realize the world is full of dreadful things – crime, hunger, oppression – but that doesn’t mean we only have two options: cynicism or naiveté. Either extreme is undesirable. Why not choose the middle road? We call it optimism. Optimism is “a habitual tendency or a present disposition to take the most hopeful view of future events, and to expect a favorable outcome even when unfavorable outcomes are possible.” To always hope for the best, while still seeing the world as it is; to see the good in others and the world around us – that is the better way.
And who knows? Perhaps if there were more true optimists in this world who stood firm in what they believe, perhaps there would be fewer things to be cynical about. If the optimists would all get up and do something, we could change the world, make it a better place. A happier, brighter place for everyone to live in, cynics and optimists alike. And we don’t have to start by making big changes – we don’t have to solve world hunger tomorrow. A good place to start is in the lives of those around you. Can you make someone smile today? Can you do something nice for someone else? Say a kind word? Encourage someone who’s feeling down? If you cheer someone up, maybe they’ll make the next person smile, and who knows how far your one kind word can spread? Let’s change the world, one seed of hope and joy at a time.