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Saturday, May 13, 2006


Battling Cynicism

This is a personal battle. At least I take it personally. I find that as I grow older I become increasingly more cynical about things. I often catch myself expressing negative thoughts or comments about something I think will never work. I think this is a trend that accompanies getting older. And I have been wondering why.

I think it has a lot to do with experiences. The more experiences you have to remember the more past failures you have to reconcile. It seems to be a natural phenomenon for people to more accurately remember the bad experiences than the good. Much reflection on what went wrong brings these memories more in focus and more apt to be repeated. It's a hard thing to come to grips with.

I don't want to be a cynical old man. I want to think positively yet wisely and to be able to experience happiness whenever it comes around, however briefly. Life is too short to ignore the good around you and only focus on the negative. Positive thoughts and actions can actually lead to positive results.

Many mornings as I walk the 6 or 7 blocks from my car to work I use that time to turn myself inward and focus on being positive. I make a smile form on my face and I tell myself that this is going to be a good day. It works most of the time. Your own positive attitude can have a real effect on how you handle daily events. Tell yourself that the aches and pains you feel in your ever-againg body are just nuisances and they aren't going to make you feel badly. Use your own resources to influence your life.

Of course, it helps if you go to a workplace that you enjoy going to everyday. Liking your job is of utmost importance in creating a positive attitude. I love my job. I like the people I work with and I like the work I do. It just makes sense to enjoy this time as it is what I do. So I try to focus on the good.

But every now and then I find negative thoughts intruding into my being as though I am powerless. I make a snide remark here or there or I fly off the handle uncontrollably, usually this is in traffic when I'm alone. It doesn't help. Not at all. I can't always stop myself. But I always feel bad afterwards.

Those are the times I try to breathe deeply and meditate away my anxiety. If I can do this, I will calm myself and get over my little fit. If I can't, I will be miserable until I can. I always do get over it, of course, but a real goal is to not let myself get out of control in the first place. Easier said than done. But I must try.

I cannot become someone who is not enjoyable to be around or talk to. There is so much good in this world to enjoy and I want to do so. Friends will help me, as long as I reach out to them. May I never be afraid to reach out and accept a friend's help. May I always be on the alert for negative thinking. May I never stop enjoying life. May I always battle encroaching cynicism.


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