Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cynicism


Yesterday, I quoted this excerpt on Facebook from Conan O'Brien's last show:

"All I ask is one thing, particularly of young people. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism; for the record it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen"

I was so moved by his words, and therefore surprised by responses more critical than concessionary. The majority suggested that $40 million in the bank would make anyone positive; that were we too, famous, rich, and successful, we'd shirk all negativity and run off into the 'happiness sunset'.

In my experience, this isn't the case.

Cynicism is a mindset, and – like happiness – is generally not specifically situational. I've worked with many wealthy, famous people riddled with cynicism, as well as poor foster kids in the Bronx that inspire me with their determination to suck the marrow out of life. The perception of opportunity is just that, a perception. The reality of our human condition – wherever we come from – is the result of the choices we make every day, and in every moment.

One friend suggested that choices and optimism weren't going to get her 40 million dollars, a gig playing piano on Broadway, or the ability to fly. I disagree. Let her first put all of her energy into creating a product or idea of terrific value, practicing incessantly, moving to New York, banging on every door along the Great White Way, and taking flying lessons. Then she can say whether or not these things seem impossible.

This may sound like a Pollyanna fantasy to some, but I believe it is cynicism and 'realistic thinking' – rather than reality – that get in the way of our wildest dreams. I have found in my own life that it is my fears and mindset, rather than any 'facts on the ground' that have hindered what I shout to the world to be my goals.

What's more, when we relinquish fear and cynicism (along with its buddy pride), even if we don't attain exactly what we're yearning for, the process itself becomes a dream. The journey is only a hellish letdown when it's a battleground for insecurity and ego, rather than an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience new things.

What does Conan O'Brien have that any of us don't? Not today, but inside... What did he have when he was 5, 10, or 15 that any of us didn't have at the same ages? The universe wasn't determined to give him any success that it isn't still offering to the rest of us. It's up to us to know and fight for what we want... our choice whether we allow life to happen to us, or will it to move through us.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Jen, yet again......

January 24, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger mariaisabel said...

" I believe it is cynicism and 'realistic thinking' – rather than reality – that get in the way of our wildest dreams. "
What a wonderful thing you wrote there. I was also really moved by what Conan said. His battle with NBC reminded me that life is truly what we make of it.
Beautifully written, Jennifer.

January 24, 2010 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Hamady said...

Thanks, Maria. I agree... so often we think that life is about taking what is being offered to us, rather than creating what it is we tuly want. I'm impressed that Conan followed his heart - in spite of such a large carrot being dangled - and admire how he handled the situation.

January 25, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Charles Day said...

Jennifer. Agree completely. Increasingly I see how the energy we impart on the world has a physical impact on the world. One fantastic example of this is the book, The Hidden Messages of Water. If one's view of cynicism is defeatist, it's hard to see what energy i sleft to you to make your dreams come true.

January 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Amen to all of the above. I often say "Life happens to you, or you happen to your life -- your choice." Knowing you taught me this.

Someone else once said to me, "You know how when something you work hard to create becomes manifest in your day to day life, you're open to take credit for it? Then you also have to take responsibility for where you are when it isn't what you want. Everything about where you are is the sum of your choices."

Once you truly accept responsibility as the creator of your own circumstances, you also create a vacuum within which cynicism cannot exist.

January 25, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Anonymous John Battaglia, Jr. said...

Thank you, Jen. Thank you. I'm very appreciative of your words. Just so you know, what spoke to me the most was: "The journey is only a hellish letdown when it's a battleground for insecurity and ego, rather than an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience new things." I really needed to hear that in this moment. Wishing you blessings...

January 25, 2010 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Hamady said...

Thanks to you all for such wonderful comments & ideas. Here's to learning more together, and optimism!

January 25, 2010 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Julia Barry said...

Right on! And it's lovely to read all these comments of people forging ahead and feeling inspired too.

January 25, 2010 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger 痛苦 said...

用行動來支持你~~~不留言不行!.........................

January 31, 2010 at 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Conan O'Brien Tickets said...

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May 4, 2010 at 6:00 PM  

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