It's easy to become cynical in a world where we are inundated with information about how shitty the planet is. As bad as it is, this is STILL the best time to ever be alive as a human. We've never been healthier, happier, better fed, or more egalitarian than we are now. That doesn't matter though, suffering isn't a Penis-measuring contest. the secret to prevent being cynical or encouraging cynical behaviour, I've found, is to give a fuck about the right things. You know the old Alcoholics Anonymous prayer?
Well I'm not the praying type, but I did my best to glean the information from it I found useful: Don't give a fuck about the wrong things, Give a fuck about the right things - For you.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Of course, this raises the question of what to give a fuck about, and what makes something the right or wrong thing to give a fuck about. In my opinion, these are one or two of the things you should NOT give a fuck about:
- Things that are "wrong" but that don't directly hurt people (like that really shitty merge about 1/3 of the way through your commute that's always backed up, and you KNOW that if everyone just kept to the lefthand lanes and let people coming onto the highway have room to get up to speed it would be fine but NO ONE ever does that and it makes you crazy because if we were just a LITTLE bit more efficient then we wouldn't have this stupid slow down on my commute and so on and so forth).
- The bad habits that other people have / how other people live their life (if it doesn't directly affect you) . Don't let judgement control your life. Right now there's a girl at my school (she's a sophomore this year). Last year she showed up, super clean cut, a bit bible-thumpy. She started to hang out with a lot of the band kids who were of african descent (to whom I bear no judgement) and this year she showed up with a weave and her best attempts to adopt African american fashion (whatever she percieved that to be in NE Ohio). She's gotten a HUGE amount of weird looks and judgment for it, and I think it's bullshit. I treat her exactly the same as I ever did - I'm not overly friendly, nor am I standoffish. I wave hello in the halls, ask about a day if we happen to be in the elevator together. I see in her my own attempts to find myself and my identity.
Some things you decide to not give a fuck about may even be completely worthwhile, things like charities, or social causes. That's fine, One person can't care deeply about everything, and many people you meet will be upset that you don't care deeply about the same causes they do EVEN IF you try and keep up.
Here are some of the things you SHOULD give a fuck about:
- Things you can change in your daily life that will make your life,and the life of your community better. Social issues that matter to you. Whether it be composting, or talking with your neighbours to create a sense of community, or calling your city counsellor about that sidewalk near 4th and Elm (you know, the one that's weirdly tall? the one Mrs. Patil has a hard time getting over nowadays since she had that fall. You talked to her, so you know that, right?)
- Your hobbies. ALWAYS make time for the things you love to do. thenewgreen is not a professional musician (by which i mean that is not the method by which he makes his living). He is the original definition of Amateur, before it became a bad thing: One who works at and practices something because they love it, not for financial gain. All of the people I know who are displeased with their lives feel that they have no time for their hobbies. Most of them "don't have time" because they don't make time. MAKE TIME for the shit you give a fuck about.
I think all this can be TL:DR'd into "Figure out what you give a fuck about - then give a fuck about it. Then stop giving a fuck about the things that you don't give a fuck about."
My problem with cynicism was that I cared too much, about too much, and the disappointment made me hard of heart. By focusing on causes I truly find worthwhile, and my loves and hobbies, I have been able to find meaning in what I do and become less cynical about my life and place in the universe (that is, an insignificant speck).