After we arrived, and we exchanged our greetings, we sat down to our meal. "This looks wonderful, Irwin! Is it a new recipe?" "Yes, Sir," I replied, "But you probably won't like it." "Why do you say that Tadpole? Don't I always like the food you prepare?" I thought about it, then answered, "Yes, you do like my cooking, but this is a little weird and I'm quite sure you won't like it. But that's okay. I can prepare you something else....I have a backup plan." Dharma took a bite and smiled. "This is actually quite good. But I'm sensing that you're being cynical this morning. That's not your usual your nature. This might be a good subject for our lesson today. Inside every cynical frog, there is a disappointed realist. Do you understand what I'm getting at?" I thought about it, scratched my chin a little, then responded, "I know that a realist is someone who takes a situation at face value, then acts accordingly. So if someone is a disappointment realist that I guess it means that the situation didn't turn out as they expected. Am I close?"
Dharma agreed. Well, in part anyway. He explained to me that a cynic or cynicism always contains the presence of negativity. When given the choice, a cynical frog or human will always pick doubt or disbelief. And they'll always try to discredit what happened, even if there's no logical reason to. They already have their mind made up that things will go wrong before waiting for the event to unfold and then reaching a logical conclusion. "Son, I read your blog yesterday about kindness and it made me think, Most of the same tips you gave for being kind are the same tips or rules for becoming less cynical. That's not a coincidence. Kindness means being open to others while cynicism means being closed off. The world today can seem like it's spinning off its axis and that can make even the most compassionate among us look at life in a far more cynical way"
I hadn't thought about it that way, but it made sense. Dharma proceeded to give me these helpful rules for lessening cynicism and opening the door for optimism.
1. Recognize the problem. We can't change until we recognize the problem. Some folks can drift through their entire lives without realizing what miserable old coots they are. So if you've already recognized and accepted that you have a problem in this area, congratulations! You've already completed the first step toward change.
2. Recognize each cynical thought. Once you recognize that you can be a bit of a cynic, use mindfulness and pay attention each time a cynical thought pops into your head. The idea here is to become more conscious of your thoughts. When you do, you can easily identify which ones are the problems and then choose to think something different.
3. Use logic. Logic is a wonderful tool and one that is underutilized. Ninety-nine percent of our depression, anxiety, hatred, dread, and negativity can be wiped out with logic. If you debate your cynicism using logic, your negativity won't have much of a fighting chance!
4. Choose to be an optimist. Being positive makes life better. Every good thing in life comes from making a positive decision. remember that. Negativity breeds negativity. Think positively and the sun will pop off from behind those dark clouds.
5. Focus on the good qualities of others. Frogs and humans alike have loads of good qualities. So why bother to hunt for, then focus on, the few one ones? Everybody's got good attributes. Doesn't it make sense to put your attention on them? Why go looking for reasons to be gloomy?
"Irwin, cynical humans...frogs, too...generally have a poorer quality of life with an unpleasant job, few friends, and a non-existent social life. This type of "black hole" existence can all be changed. But it requires action and the desire and courage to change. Only we can make those changes. No one else can do this for us."
After Dharma left, as I cleaned up my kitchen, I thought about what he'd said. Generally, I'm not a cynical frog, and I know I don't want to become one. So I will begin to watch my negative thinking. And when I have one, like this morning, I know that I can make the choice to change it into one that's positive and more hopeful. And isn't having a positive life a lot better than always thinking the worst? Until tomorrow, Dharma and I wish everyone
Peace, love, and positivity.