Why do we always focus on the negative? Whenever we go about a new adventure, we tend to ask ourselves “what could go wrong?”. Why do we never ask ourselves “what could go right?”. When we focus on the negative, we are relying on our courage to overcome fear. Whereas when we focus on the positive, we are building our confidence.
Negativity invites cynicism to flourish. If you’ve ever been on the internet, which I’m assuming you have, you have seen just how cynical the world can be. Cynics are people who see the worst in everything and mistake the purpose of nihilism.
Reality is neither positive nor negative. Being an optimist or a pessimist tends to contradict any idea of realism. Yet those who assume the worst and call themselves realists act on a false pretense. Whereas it is also a false pretense to assume the best and ignore the bad. Reality is a combination of both.
This is where I believe that the main reason we focus on the negative in the world is because our of adaptation when learning in life. Many cynical people have been lied to countless times. Their trust has been betrayed over and over again when assuming the best in people. Thus they eventually form a worldview that does not value trust.
Sadly this trust doesn’t extend to oneself because cynicism has already spread too far to become a woe is me attitude. Cynicism thus becomes one’s entire personality hidden behind the sock and buskin. The only tragedy is that the cynic forgets that wise people know how to trust but not to put unreasonable expectations on people, including themselves. Trust instead does not disappoint, it becomes a calculated risk.
But cynicism is one of the only ways to go in a wicked world. The more wicked a world you live in, the more value cynicism provides. Cynicism is a natural defense against suffering. If you lower your expectations in your life, you can never be disappointed.
Many cynics lack perspective. They constantly try to confirm their cynicism. Their biggest challenger is the person who sees the opposite — the good. The optimist bothers the cynic so much that they will double down on their cynicism to the point of orchestrating attacks to the optimist to bring them back to the “real world”.
Akin to crabs in a bucket. “If I can’t have it, neither can you” says the cynic. As another crab tries to escape the bucket, they will be pulled back down by the others to ensure the group’s collective demise.
Ironically, cynics do not follow Cynicism philosophy. For the original Cynics, their purpose of life is to live in virtue and agreement with nature. For while the Cynics embraced a life filled with skepticism, they focused on personal freedom, self-sufficiency, and a rejection of consumerism. Most importantly, they focused on living a simple and virtuous life, free from the corrupting influence of society and its norms. Modern cynics are not free nor virtuous by any degree.
For the ancient Cynics trusted themselves, the modern cynic mistrusts everything. Those who were former cynics can spot a modern cynic a mile away. Their humor is a call for help. The excess use of sarcasm and irony expressing skepticism is more so a lack of confidence in themselves — trust.
The cynic will never ask “what could go right?”. Even with life giving regular gifts, the cynic assumes it is because of their skepticism that the gift has been bequeathed.
We’ve lost the very definition of what cynicism used to be. Similar to the cynic, it was done through a process of depersonalization. Ancient cynics were monks, hermits, and simple farmers. Modern cynics are comedians, doctors, and critics. Those who can easily spread their cynicism with others flourish in this negativity.
For humor’s sake, a cynic comedian may make use of the question “what could go right?”, but all cynic spectators know to be skeptical of this device used for further negative shock by the cynic comedian.
The origin for the word cynic closely resembles what we know as a “dog”. For the original idea was to bring a simple philosophy to life like man’s best friend. Animals were content with very little. Human beings were never content to begin with.
Famous for founding Cynic philosophy, Diogenes of Sinope(“Diogenes the Dog”) was known for his unconventional and eccentric lifestyle where he would live in a barrel while owning few possessions. He is famous for carrying a lantern in the daylight and searching for an honest man.
This story represented his search for genuine human virtue in a society that he saw as corrupted and hypocritical. His perspective was straightforward. He had rejected the conventional norms and relentlessly pursued truth and integrity — just like a dog.
The dog will fawn upon those who give and bark at those who give nothing. Even Socrates was known to swear by the dog as a symbol of his sincerity of living a simple and virtuous life. To swear by the dog is to affirm the truth. For a dog is always asking “what could go right?”. A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.