Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Cynicism—Random House Dictionary defines ‘cynicism’ as: distrusting, disbelieving, contemptuous, and holding a low opinion of mankind, and expands its synonym ‘pessimism’ as a habitual disposition to look on the dark side of things and to believe the worst will happen.
A cynical person is someone who is pretty much negative about everything:
- Nothing ever goes right for me.
- It will be my luck that there won’t be anything left for morning tea by the time I get there.
- This job is getting me nowhere and the boss always has it in for me.
Ring a bell? People have all sorts of ways to express their cynicism. For example, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire; or when someone says, Do you want my opinion?—and it’s always a negative one!
I read about a 2009 study of more than 97,000 women, which showed that optimistic women had lower rates of coronary heart disease, cancer-related or early deaths. On the other hand, women with the most pessimistic and cynical personalities, had higher rates of these diseases and early deaths. I’m not picking on women, because I’m sure the same thing can be said about us men. But when we think of hostility and negativity as life-threatening conditions, it makes the goal of being less cynical all the more crucial. It’s not good for our health to be cynical and critical.
What Are the Signs of Cynicism?
- Lack of hope about the future
- Excessively dark interpretations of events and other people’s motives
- Excessive sarcasm or negative comments back to others who are not involved in the issue at hand
- Loving to pick out flaws
- Apathy and withdrawal (because the person believes nothing can change for the better).
Cynicism—it may feel real, but it isn’t real because nothing is as hopeless as it seems, if you have faith in our God who is able.
Paul E. Miller wrote a book entitled A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World and he writes this:
Cynicism is so pervasive that, at times, it feels like a presence. Cynicism is the air we breathe, and it is suffocating our hearts. Weariness and fear leave us feeling overwhelmed, unable to move. Cynicism leaves us doubting, unable to dream. The combination shuts down our hearts, and we just show up for life, going through the motions.
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- How paralysed in spirit are you?
- How defeated?
- How distracted are you by the spirit of the age?
- When was the last time you realised that you are part of God’s story rather than him being part of your story?
Do you spend time with God?—because that can help overcome the mountain of cynicism. To put it another way, allow him to be the overriding influence in your attitude.
(To be continued in Are You a Cynical Person? – Part 2)