Cynism Gets a Bad Rap

It is easy to blame bad attitudes and dissatisfaction on a a cynical spirit. Everyone writes about how we need to stop being cynics and instead have health skepticism that leads us to want to change.

I’ll bite.

I’m skeptical because I am a cynic. I quitting try to find all the problems with an idea or situation. I try to “kill” it quickly. I am slow to believe it.

I think that the Google Team, Project X that does moonshot ideas, is full of cynics. They quickly try to kill ideas, make them fail, and poke holes in each others theories so that they don’t waste time on ideas that don’t hold their own.

It’s brilliant. If an idea can’t handle someone trying to kill it, it’s probably a great idea or at least the step needed to get to the next phase which is the great idea.

We should be cynics so that we can stop fooling ourselves in good ideas and go for the great one.

At the end when cynicism hasn’t been able to totally kill the idea, you need to embrace it.

Otherwise you aren’t a cynic, you’re just a stick in the mud.


The Wrong Kind of Compassion

I found out recently that I am not compassionate. It was a hard realization to come to. It’s easy for me to think that I'm way better at things than I really am. I hope that this is human problem and not just my own struggle.

I used to think that compassion was just for the issue at hand. Such as, you see a person who is hungry and out of compassion you feed them.



I served the man who was hungry. I was compassionate. I can check it off because there was a need and I met it.

It’s concrete and tangible. Problem solved, right?


Yesterday I sat in my car wanting compassion. Not for my immediate need, which was to feel some hope, but for someone to just understand how exhausting it is to think healthily.

The compassion of understanding is the best compassion one can give.

Outward needs are really pretty easy to meet. Someone doesn’t have a coat, so you help them get one. Someone needs help with rent, so you pay it. That is easy in effort.

The hard part is understanding all of the stuff going on below the surface that is the root cause of the need.

I totally believe that almost everyone is trying really hard to do right. They want to live well. They want to thrive, not just survive. But it’s exhausting, and it feels like you have to do EVERYTHING right or it slips away.

In the car, the only thing I wanted was for the people around me to understand the exhaustion of trying, the struggle of being well, and the heavy burden I carry on my path to wholeness.

Now I know what compassion is.

Its understanding,

Understanding the struggle so you can help the core issue going on, so that you can actually meet the need because platitudes suck and are full of crap. Well intention only makes the giver feel good. The person receiving it sees through the bologna, like one sees through freshly windex windows.

Hurting people don’t really want your money, or sympathy, or the immediate help in and of themselves. We want to be understood as you seek to help us bring about the better reality for ourselves.

The right compassion is one of understanding the work and struggle that goes in to facing the day. When you get that, then go help.

I’m sorry for everyone that I have helped without really understanding you. I didn’t really help you. I just made you feel worse and for that I’m so sorry.

Here’s to the right compassion!