On occasion, my mom has referred to me as her daughter, Christa, the cynic. I'd really like to disagree with her, though after years of trying to refute it I've realized she's right. She just forgot to add the word "hopeful" in front of "cynic". This might sound like a contradiction, though as my friend, Trevin and I always say, "I live my life hoping for the best and expecting the worst." It keeps my life full of wonderful surprises.
The balance between cynicism and hope is delicate and must be constantly maintained. There is a real danger in slipping much too close to either the happy-go-luckies who live their lives in a state of optimism bordering on delusion and the people who are so cynical that you wonder how they kept them from just putting it all to an end yesterday. The balance is important to maintaining the very best of both extremes.
I like to look at a whole situation - details and the big picture comprised of those details. I don't mind being the naysayer so long as it gets us to higher ground when it's all said and done. I don't like nicey-nice cultures - I like and appreciate honesty and thoughtful discussion.
I also don't mind being the voice of hope in a room full of doom and gloom. I like being able to transform a situation from helplessness to self-confident action. Someone has to be the initial spark that begins a gathering light and that role suits me fine.
There aren't that many of us hopeful cynics. Frankly it's a lot of work to have this personality. Everyday that I pick up the paper (which does happen to be everyday) I wonder what our economy might be like with a few more hopeful cynics. I wonder if we would have been better prepared for this crisis. Would we have saved more when times were good? Would we have questioned expenditures and "business as usual" more closely?
To this end, I developed a few guidelines in case anyone is interested in developing the hopeful cynic within them:
1.) Question everything, always, and don't stop until you get a solid, logical answer
2.) Read works of fiction and nonfiction in equal amounts. Fiction keeps you imagining worlds that could be while nonfiction helps you see things as they really are, often from someone else's point-of-view.
3.) Watch movies that make you laugh and cry, and especially watch those that make you think.
4.) Be wary of people who say yes or no to everything.
5.) Trust your instincts, even if no one around you seems to have the same opinion
6.) If a situation is 100% a dream or 100% a nightmare, do some more digging so you know what you're really in for
7.) No matter what circumstances you're in, good, bad, or indifferent, know that eventually it will pass. Change is the only thing that is guaranteed.