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Cynicism & Pessimism – A hindrance to the future?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 February 2019 10:03
 
LadyJane - 22 February 2019 09:15 AM

It’s a matter of perspective.  And finding the appropriate threshold for what we envision from what we perceive.

I think this mainly relies on knowing and managing our own levels of tolerance.  And living up to the expectations we’re so quick to place on others.  Immersing ourselves in reality provides the foundation for loftier thinking.  And sometimes untethering ourselves from the rules and colouring outside the lines leads to groundbreaking results that can only emerge from straying from the conventional.  When the time we spend is yielding more negative effects than not it’s time to spend time doing something else.  Even temporarily until we can reapproach the project at a later date.  Refreshed.  We can’t very well abandon our human desire to know stuff.

This is just what happens when a multitude of people make their way to the same channel.  The floodgates open and the rushing waters of oppression saturate everything.  As the pressure lessens things settle and we all level up.  It’s a very strange time in history.  And it’s a hell of time to be alive.  There are people who are terrified of losing what they’ve got staring down people who have nothing left to lose.  There’s an overabundance of cortisol and no one knows where to put it.  We now have the task of mustering the patience it takes to navigate the locks that surely shore us back to calm.  Through all the rusty pinions. 

Cynicism is a realistic view of humanity.  Pessimism is nothing short of hilarious.  Looking at it with the right kind of eyes.

Can you give us a little context for these thoughts? I’m honestly not sure I know what kinds of situations you’re referring to. thanks.

 
 
icehorse
 
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22 February 2019 10:04
 
Jan_CAN - 21 February 2019 06:57 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 February 2019 05:44 PM

Consider the Iran nuclear agreement as a counterexample. The non-cynical, non-pessimistic (naive) person says, “We can trust the Iranians to abide by the terms of the agreement.”

The cynic says, “We can’t trust the Iranians.”

The pessimistic cynic says, “We can’t trust the Iranians so there’s no point in reaching an agreement with them.”

The optimistic cynic says, “We can’t trust the Iranians, but we can include stringent verification requirements to make sure they’re abiding by the agreement.”

Yes ... it seems that you are saying that there needs to be a balance of enough cynicism/realism to fully appreciate a situation, and enough optimism that prevents giving up all hope and could lead to solutions.

When I was thinking about this topic earlier, my thoughts went to the Parkland students.  In their despair and grief, they wanted to find hope.  They wanted to believe that they could change things and end the violence, and they did what they could.  They weren’t naive because they had already seen and experienced what no one should ever have to, but they were idealistic in that they put aside all that they were up against; I found this very inspiring.

Can you say more about what the Parkland kids did? Are you talking about during the incident? Or after? ..

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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22 February 2019 11:38
 

The twisted iron knee. 

A fleeting summary for the restless…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z9MHWvJM9w

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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22 February 2019 12:08
 
proximacentauri - 22 February 2019 09:33 AM
Jan_CAN - 21 February 2019 06:57 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 February 2019 05:44 PM

Consider the Iran nuclear agreement as a counterexample. The non-cynical, non-pessimistic (naive) person says, “We can trust the Iranians to abide by the terms of the agreement.”

The cynic says, “We can’t trust the Iranians.”

The pessimistic cynic says, “We can’t trust the Iranians so there’s no point in reaching an agreement with them.”

The optimistic cynic says, “We can’t trust the Iranians, but we can include stringent verification requirements to make sure they’re abiding by the agreement.”

Yes ... it seems that you are saying that there needs to be a balance of enough cynicism/realism to fully appreciate a situation, and enough optimism that prevents giving up all hope and could lead to solutions.

When I was thinking about this topic earlier, my thoughts went to the Parkland students.  In their despair and grief, they wanted to find hope.  They wanted to believe that they could change things and end the violence, and they did what they could.  They weren’t naive because they had already seen and experienced what no one should ever have to, but they were idealistic in that they put aside all that they were up against; I found this very inspiring.

The Parkland kids were inspiring to me as well. People tend to discount the courage it took for them to do that.

Jan, I also wanted to say thankyou for starting this thread as it’s given me a nudge to re-evaluate my own personal tendencies. As you said, with age we tend to get more pessimistic and cynical, and I’d like to avoid becoming an old curmudgeon if I can.

You’re very welcome, proximacentauri.  I also will try to resist my curmudgeonly tendencies.

[ Edited: 22 February 2019 12:13 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
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22 February 2019 12:11
 
LadyJane - 22 February 2019 09:15 AM

It’s a matter of perspective.  And finding the appropriate threshold for what we envision from what we perceive.

I think this mainly relies on knowing and managing our own levels of tolerance.  And living up to the expectations we’re so quick to place on others.  Immersing ourselves in reality provides the foundation for loftier thinking.  And sometimes untethering ourselves from the rules and colouring outside the lines leads to groundbreaking results that can only emerge from straying from the conventional.  When the time we spend is yielding more negative effects than not it’s time to spend time doing something else.  Even temporarily until we can reapproach the project at a later date.  Refreshed.  We can’t very well abandon our human desire to know stuff.

This is just what happens when a multitude of people make their way to the same channel.  The floodgates open and the rushing waters of oppression saturate everything.  As the pressure lessens things settle and we all level up.  It’s a very strange time in history.  And it’s a hell of time to be alive.  There are people who are terrified of losing what they’ve got staring down people who have nothing left to lose.  There’s an overabundance of cortisol and no one knows where to put it.  We now have the task of mustering the patience it takes to navigate the locks that surely shore us back to calm.  Through all the rusty pinions. 

Cynicism is a realistic view of humanity.  Pessimism is nothing short of hilarious.  Looking at it with the right kind of eyes.

Yes, it certainly is a matter of perspective.  When we overdose on negative news reports for instance, it is a good idea to do something else for a time.  (Perhaps when spring comes and long walks are easier to take it’ll help provide a balance with more refreshing and distracting thoughts.)

It is a hell of a time to be alive.  Way too exciting for my taste though.  As Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

I’ve usually thought of my fellow humans as being basically good – not necessarily right about everything and not always their best in large groups or in regards to politics – but generally kind as individuals.  I’ve viewed cynicism as not completely realistic but a tendency to look at only the uglier side of human nature.  Of course, I think the word ‘cynicism’ has subtle differences in meaning for each of us.  I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “Pessimism is nothing short of hilarious”, except perhaps that you think it’s a ridiculous viewpoint to take.

 

 
 
LadyJane
 
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22 February 2019 14:20
 
Jan_CAN - 22 February 2019 12:11 PM
LadyJane - 22 February 2019 09:15 AM

It’s a matter of perspective.  And finding the appropriate threshold for what we envision from what we perceive.

I think this mainly relies on knowing and managing our own levels of tolerance.  And living up to the expectations we’re so quick to place on others.  Immersing ourselves in reality provides the foundation for loftier thinking.  And sometimes untethering ourselves from the rules and colouring outside the lines leads to groundbreaking results that can only emerge from straying from the conventional.  When the time we spend is yielding more negative effects than not it’s time to spend time doing something else.  Even temporarily until we can reapproach the project at a later date.  Refreshed.  We can’t very well abandon our human desire to know stuff.

This is just what happens when a multitude of people make their way to the same channel.  The floodgates open and the rushing waters of oppression saturate everything.  As the pressure lessens things settle and we all level up.  It’s a very strange time in history.  And it’s a hell of time to be alive.  There are people who are terrified of losing what they’ve got staring down people who have nothing left to lose.  There’s an overabundance of cortisol and no one knows where to put it.  We now have the task of mustering the patience it takes to navigate the locks that surely shore us back to calm.  Through all the rusty pinions. 

Cynicism is a realistic view of humanity.  Pessimism is nothing short of hilarious.  Looking at it with the right kind of eyes.

Yes, it certainly is a matter of perspective.  When we overdose on negative news reports for instance, it is a good idea to do something else for a time.  (Perhaps when spring comes and long walks are easier to take it’ll help provide a balance with more refreshing and distracting thoughts.)

It is a hell of a time to be alive.  Way too exciting for my taste though.  As Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

I’ve usually thought of my fellow humans as being basically good – not necessarily right about everything and not always their best in large groups or in regards to politics – but generally kind as individuals.  I’ve viewed cynicism as not completely realistic but a tendency to look at only the uglier side of human nature.  Of course, I think the word ‘cynicism’ has subtle differences in meaning for each of us.  I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “Pessimism is nothing short of hilarious”, except perhaps that you think it’s a ridiculous viewpoint to take.

I think a healthy skepticism with a dose of angst can lead to very positive and optimistic thinking.

A lot of my favourite comedians seem driven by it and use less than ideal personal experiences to deliver jokes that make me double over laughing.  Joking about things can take the sting out.  And taking the mundane aspects of life and turning them into something funny changes your perspective and the mood often follows suit.  Music has a similar cause and effect.  When we are inundated by negativity it’s a struggle to cease from circling the drain.  And a song can lift you out.  I think a lot of people want to bring everyone down with them, like a wet blanket, which requires employing a certain amount of creativity to counter.  In that way, hopefully, we are able to somehow turn the ugliness into something beautiful.  We can all use accompaniment from time to time.

A joke.  A song.  A simple turn of phrase.  In order to achieve the lowest most effective dose.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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22 February 2019 14:52
 
LadyJane - 22 February 2019 02:20 PM

I think a healthy skepticism with a dose of angst can lead to very positive and optimistic thinking.

A lot of my favourite comedians seem driven by it and use less than ideal personal experiences to deliver jokes that make me double over laughing.  Joking about things can take the sting out.  And taking the mundane aspects of life and turning them into something funny changes your perspective and the mood often follows suit.  Music has a similar cause and effect.  When we are inundated by negativity it’s a struggle to cease from circling the drain.  And a song can lift you out.  I think a lot of people want to bring everyone down with them, like a wet blanket, which requires employing a certain amount of creativity to counter.  In that way, hopefully, we are able to somehow turn the ugliness into something beautiful.  We can all use accompaniment from time to time.

A joke.  A song.  A simple turn of phrase.  In order to achieve the lowest most effective dose.

This isn’t the first time you’ve put a smile on my face and brought me out of a state of semi-angst with a post reminding me about the power of laughter.  (I best listen to a song rather than sing one, as my singing voice tends to put others into a state of depression.)  A wet blanket is difficult to be around and I’m determined not to become one.  Maybe I’ll slip in a Monty Python DVD instead of watching the six o’clock news tonight.

 
 
EN
 
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22 February 2019 18:27
 

Canadians are more optimistic than Americans.  They still believe.  When they have 325,000,000 people, maybe it will change.  But USA history is against us - it’s hard to remain idealistic down here.

[ Edited: 23 February 2019 07:08 by EN]
 
proximacentauri
 
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24 February 2019 16:29
 
EN - 22 February 2019 06:27 PM

Canadians are more optimistic than Americans.  They still believe.  When they have 325,000,000 people, maybe it will change.  But USA history is against us - it’s hard to remain idealistic down here.

Agreed, that’s been my perception of Canadians when I’ve had the chance to travel up there and chat them up. They also seem to be happier than us.

Well then, I think it’s time they take this little gem to heart wink

“Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion.”
? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

 

 
Jan_CAN
 
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24 February 2019 17:59
 
proximacentauri - 24 February 2019 04:29 PM
EN - 22 February 2019 06:27 PM

Canadians are more optimistic than Americans.  They still believe.  When they have 325,000,000 people, maybe it will change.  But USA history is against us - it’s hard to remain idealistic down here.

Agreed, that’s been my perception of Canadians when I’ve had the chance to travel up there and chat them up. They also seem to be happier than us.

Well then, I think it’s time they take this little gem to heart wink

“Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion.”
? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sure ... we were happier until some of the gloom started floating north across the border.  wink
And yeah, things are generally better up here, but we’re not immune to life’s worries (hence the OP).

Hey man, don’t bring me down with a dead Roman’s philosophy; I prefer someone more profound.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
— Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer

 

 
 
proximacentauri
 
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proximacentauri
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25 February 2019 09:10
 
Jan_CAN - 24 February 2019 05:59 PM
proximacentauri - 24 February 2019 04:29 PM
EN - 22 February 2019 06:27 PM

Canadians are more optimistic than Americans.  They still believe.  When they have 325,000,000 people, maybe it will change.  But USA history is against us - it’s hard to remain idealistic down here.

Agreed, that’s been my perception of Canadians when I’ve had the chance to travel up there and chat them up. They also seem to be happier than us.

Well then, I think it’s time they take this little gem to heart wink

“Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion.”
? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sure ... we were happier until some of the gloom started floating north across the border.  wink
And yeah, things are generally better up here, but we’re not immune to life’s worries (hence the OP).

Hey man, don’t bring me down with a dead Roman’s philosophy; I prefer someone more profound.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
— Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer


Lol. Yeah, life doesn’t have to be perfect but it’s futile and that’s what Stoics like to remind us of.

But even the stoics had a sense of humor as evidenced by this quote…

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch since the hour for lunch has arrived - and dying I will tend to later.” -Epictetus

 

 

 
Jan_CAN
 
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25 February 2019 11:37
 
proximacentauri - 25 February 2019 09:10 AM
Jan_CAN - 24 February 2019 05:59 PM
proximacentauri - 24 February 2019 04:29 PM

Agreed, that’s been my perception of Canadians when I’ve had the chance to travel up there and chat them up. They also seem to be happier than us.

Well then, I think it’s time they take this little gem to heart wink

“Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion.”
? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sure ... we were happier until some of the gloom started floating north across the border.  wink
And yeah, things are generally better up here, but we’re not immune to life’s worries (hence the OP).

Hey man, don’t bring me down with a dead Roman’s philosophy; I prefer someone more profound.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
— Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer

Lol. Yeah, life doesn’t have to be perfect but it’s futile and that’s what Stoics like to remind us of.

But even the stoics had a sense of humor as evidenced by this quote…

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch since the hour for lunch has arrived - and dying I will tend to later.” -Epictetus

That’s better.  I like Epi – lunch now; die later.
Yup, no matter our outlook, humour is helpful.

(I’m thinking though that futility is futile and I’d still prefer hope even if it is an elusive illusion.)

 

 
 
nonverbal
 
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25 February 2019 11:57
 
Jan_CAN - 19 February 2019 09:22 AM

Cynicism:  An inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest.  Synonyms:  scepticism, doubt, distrust, mistrust, doubtfulness, suspicion, disbelief, incredulity, unbelief, scoffing.

Pessimism:  A tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.  Synonyms:  defeatism, negative thinking, negativity, expecting the worst, doom and gloom, gloom, gloominess.


It’s easy enough to be cynical or pessimistic, especially as we get older.  Positive changes usually take a long time, often with one step backwards for every two steps forward (e.g. equal rights) and it’s often difficult to see the big picture and recognize that some good stuff has been happening, overall.  And the newer bad stuff (e.g. climate change) appears overwhelming without clear solutions in sight.

It’s also easy enough to lose faith in our fellow humans, especially when those who behave badly get the most press.  And there are those who will try to convince everyone that their faults are everyone’s faults, that they are the only truly honest ones, unable to recognize that there are actually principled and unselfish people out there doing good work.  They’re not capable of being inspired.

Although it is necessary to see the negative in order to make advances, change will not be attempted or achieved without hope.  Even when we feel or think all looks nearly impossible or hopeless, pessimism will only ensure defeat if we do not consciously and purposefully strive to quell it.  As the young will always be the future, they need to be encouraged in their naivety and hopefulness; it seems to me that it is our responsibility to not bring them down to our ‘reality’.  Who knows – maybe they’ll think of new solutions or make progress simply by not seeing obstacles as being insurmountable.

I suspect that all happy and successful people, however those abstract adjectives get defined, are riddled with false expectation and outright delusion, 24 hours a day! I know I am. False expectation, on some level of consciousness, is most certainly a survival skill. I hope I’m not being too annoyingly negative, which at times provides me with purpose and I might even say, happiness.

 
 
proximacentauri
 
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proximacentauri
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25 February 2019 12:03
 
Jan_CAN - 25 February 2019 11:37 AM
proximacentauri - 25 February 2019 09:10 AM
Jan_CAN - 24 February 2019 05:59 PM
proximacentauri - 24 February 2019 04:29 PM

Agreed, that’s been my perception of Canadians when I’ve had the chance to travel up there and chat them up. They also seem to be happier than us.

Well then, I think it’s time they take this little gem to heart wink

“Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion.”
? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sure ... we were happier until some of the gloom started floating north across the border.  wink
And yeah, things are generally better up here, but we’re not immune to life’s worries (hence the OP).

Hey man, don’t bring me down with a dead Roman’s philosophy; I prefer someone more profound.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
— Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer

Lol. Yeah, life doesn’t have to be perfect but it’s futile and that’s what Stoics like to remind us of.

But even the stoics had a sense of humor as evidenced by this quote…

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch since the hour for lunch has arrived - and dying I will tend to later.” -Epictetus

That’s better.  I like Epi – lunch now; die later.
Yup, no matter our outlook, humour is helpful.

(I’m thinking though that futility is futile and I’d still prefer hope even if it is an elusive illusion.)

And I’m not entirely opposed to hope because as you’ve alluded to, it can inspire us to action.
As Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption said… “Remember, Red, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

 
proximacentauri
 
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proximacentauri
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26 February 2019 12:29
 
proximacentauri - 25 February 2019 12:03 PM
Jan_CAN - 25 February 2019 11:37 AM
proximacentauri - 25 February 2019 09:10 AM
Jan_CAN - 24 February 2019 05:59 PM
proximacentauri - 24 February 2019 04:29 PM

Agreed, that’s been my perception of Canadians when I’ve had the chance to travel up there and chat them up. They also seem to be happier than us.

Well then, I think it’s time they take this little gem to heart wink

“Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion.”
? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sure ... we were happier until some of the gloom started floating north across the border.  wink
And yeah, things are generally better up here, but we’re not immune to life’s worries (hence the OP).

Hey man, don’t bring me down with a dead Roman’s philosophy; I prefer someone more profound.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
— Annette Funicello, Mouseketeer

Lol. Yeah, life doesn’t have to be perfect but it’s futile and that’s what Stoics like to remind us of.

But even the stoics had a sense of humor as evidenced by this quote…

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch since the hour for lunch has arrived - and dying I will tend to later.” -Epictetus

That’s better.  I like Epi – lunch now; die later.
Yup, no matter our outlook, humour is helpful.

(I’m thinking though that futility is futile and I’d still prefer hope even if it is an elusive illusion.)

And I’m not entirely opposed to hope because as you’ve alluded to, it can inspire us to action.
As Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption said… “Remember, Red, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Just to expound at bit on my view of the concept of “hope”... I don’t think hope is useful if you’re just “hoping for the best” or if you typically have an optimistic state of mind because you just happen to be a “glass half full” person. But if hope is the desire for a certain outcome and you do what you can to support that outcome - fully aware that outcome may or may not materialize - then that’s the kind of hope that’s more pallatible to me personally, as a stodgy realist.

 

 
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