Is any part of you growing cynical?
I think you know what I mean.
I have to:
Fight the ‘been there” “done that” and “I can explain that in ten seconds if you let me” tendency that comes with having lived a while.
Battle the “I don’t think I’m going to trust anyone again” impulse after feeling burned.
Work at staying hopeful when I see some people make the same mistake over and over again.
Can you relate?
Cynicism is simply the general distrust of others or a lack of hope in people or their desires. At it’s worst, it becomes jaded negativity, skepticism, contempt or scorn.
The number of cynics around me amazes me and discourages me. Cynics never change the world. Instead, they tell you how they know why the world can’t change.
And yet most people as they live a little find themselves fighting cynicism.
So how do you battle it?
I wonder if there is a link between cynicism and curiosity.
Cynical people are rarely curious (they already know the answer, and it’s not good by the way).
Curious people are almost never cynical.
Some of my favourite people are the relentlessly curious.
The ones who:
Never stop learning
Ask great questions
Are interested in others and in new experiences
Don’t settle for standard answers
Push the boundaries
Smile when no one else does
Believe when most people don’t
Widen their universe when everyone else is narrowing theirs
The curious do these things.
I’ve decided (maybe because another birthday is coming up) that I want to become more curious, not less curious (which seems to be the normal pattern) as I get older.
I just might help battle that nascent cynicism that always threatens to buy more real estate.
So how do you become more curious?
I’d love to figure this out. But here are some ideas to get you and I started:
Schedule thinking time. Business is the enemy of wonder, among other things. You can’t wonder when you’re in a hurry.
Click. When I read my twitter or Facebook feed, I find if I click on the links and notes in other people’s lives, I grow more curious. Particularly if they are not like me.
Ask more questions. Great leaders ask questions even more than they give answers. And people who ask questions are just more fun to be around, aren’t they?
Ask open ended questions. This Fast Company article on asking open ended question is brilliant (and challenging).
Give fewer answers. I have to check the tendency inside me to want certainty on everything. Giving fewer answers in every day conversation can help.
Say I don’t know. Because often it’s way more true than we admit anyway. And saying “I don’t know” can lead us to a better answer than we would have come up with on our own.
Say Yes. The demands of my life mean that ‘no’ has become a default answer (or more accurately, “I’d love to, but I’m afraid I can’t”). While I’m a firm believer in saying no, everyone once in a while, say yes. Go to the party. Accept the invite. While chronically saying yes can lead to a lack of purpose and a lack of focus in life, saying it every once in a while to new and interesting things can be good.
Wonder. Kids wonder. Adults stop wondering. Reverse the trend.
Stop taking things for granted. Gratitude can make you more open–to everything.
Ask why. Challenge assumptions!
Ask why not? Why not, after all?
Try to find connections between random things. I’m not scientific enough to know why this is important, but there is a link between many things. Somehow it’s all connected.
Read outside of your area. You can do this in a big way (buy a book on astronomy, for example), or casually. I use content-aggregating apps like Flipboard and Zite to help me read things I would never otherwise read.
Lose your fear. What’s the worst that could happen? Right, you could die. Which you’re not supposed to fear that much anyway.
Dream. You used to. Why stop now?
Get around some kids. They still believe. And might inspire you to do the same.
What do you think? Can curiosity help stop cynicism?
What are some ways you have learned to be more curious?