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Kick Cynicism Out!

One evening, I was surfing through TV channels when I saw an elderly man being interviewed on JKLive. To me, it was an amazing interview. This man has significant influence in our nation Kenya. The man is a legit leader. He dressed the part, talked the part and definitely walked the part. There was even a lilt in his voice. He said things like “what I can do is….how I have lived my life….what I have come to learn”. What struck me most was his age; he was ninety years old. Ninety! I remember thinking. Whatever it takes to be that fresh and alive at ninety, I’ll do it!

I could feel the battle of cynicism waging inside of me and it was clear that cynicism had NOT won in the life of this elderly influencer. However that happened, I wanted it.

You see my friends, cynicism is so cruel. When I was at my most cynical, the thing that died within me was hope – hope that the future would be better than the past, hope that the next time would be different, hope that my heart would feel again.

And there you have it my friends; HOPE is the perfect antidote to cynicism. Cynics find hope hard because hope is one of cynicisms first casualties. A lot of people struggle with the Bible and Christianity because it is so real. How can Christianity be founded on hope when so much of the story is violent, oppressive and bleak? I mean, have you ever read the Bible? It contains plenty of tragedy, trauma and treachery. You might think that flipping through the Bible would make you more cynical, not less.

Ill be honest, for years it bothered me that Scripture has so many violent accounts. But this made me realize something. God sees how violent and heartless we can be toward one another and toward ourselves. He sees our cruelty and without His intervention in the narrative of the human life story, life would be nasty, brutish and short. The thrust of Christianity is that Jesus sees our hate – he was hated first. He was crucified for having committed no sin; for standing up for the downtrodden; for loving even the unlovable; for standing with the despised in society. He met our hate with love. He sees your despair and counters it with hope. He sees your doubt and lobs belief back at you again and again. Cynicism melts at the relentless hope of LOVE because LOVE NEVER FAILS.

Your past is not your future. Bitterness can’t linger under the relentless assault of love. Hope is anchored in love; it is resilient. It can withstand a thousand Boards of Directors. It can manoeuvre ten thousand broken hearts. If you want to kick cynicism in the teeth, trust again, hope again and believe again.

I say this but I must confess that remembering it is difficult in the grind of everyday life. At least it can be for me when my eyes start to roll and my heart starts to harden…….again.

So how do you battle cynicism on the days when discouragement and despair are once again knocking on your door?

The answer my friends, is to remain curious. Why you ask, because curious people are never cynical and cynical people are never curious. You will quickly realize that the curious are always interested, always hopeful and always open to new possibilities. And how do you cultivate curiosity?

Well, let me share a few tricks of what I do:

1. I schedule thinking time – Busyness is the enemy of wonder. I schedule some time to ponder and process.
2. I ask open ended questions – Questions spark curiosity. The curious ask broad probing questions – and then sit back and listen. Next time, when it sounds like someone is finishing an answer, just wait. You will be surprised at where that leads.
3. I give fewer answers – Curious people always refrain from giving an answer. If you need to be the authority on everything, you will kill conversation.
4. I dream more – Remember when you used to dream? What happened to that? Most of us want control. Control is about certainty; it’s about the known. When life becomes focussed on what I know and what I can control, I can assure you all my dreams will die.
5. I ask 2 pivotal questions – Why and why not? Why is the heart of curiosity. “Why not do it differently? Why not say yes? Why not try it? Why not try a new way?

1. I schedule thinking time – Busyness is the enemy of wonder. I schedule some time to ponder and process.
2. I ask open ended questions – Questions spark curiosity. The curious ask broad probing questions – and then sit back and listen. Next time, when it sounds like someone is finishing an answer, just wait. You will be surprised at where that leads.
3. I give fewer answers – Curious people always refrain from giving an answer. If you need to be the authority on everything, you will kill conversation.
4. I dream more – Remember when you used to dream? What happened to that? Most of us want control. Control is about certainty; it’s about the known. When life becomes focussed on what I know and what I can control, I can assure you all my dreams will die.
5. I ask 2 pivotal questions – Why and why not? Why is the heart of curiosity. “Why not do it differently? Why not say yes? Why not try it? Why not try a new way?

I know, I know…..that list is hardly exhaustive. Feel free to expand it, but you see its potential don’t you?

Curiosity is a discipline and it’s a viewpoint. If you can adopt this day after day, you will discover that cynicism never gets a toehold.

So my friends, Hope again. Believe again. Trust again. And be curious. Cultivate curiosity long enough and hope will flourish and when hope flourishes, cynicism does not stand a chance.

If you missed last week’s article, please read it here.

Feel free to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you.

Njeri MuchunuKick Cynicism Out!
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