Saturday, January 07, 2006

Looking for goodness, and an end to murderous smirks

Life makes some people cynical. Looking for the worst? You'll find it.

Some would have you believe their negativity and cynicism is actually hard-won wisdom, a kind of advanced degree in critical thinking. But in fact, cynicism and negativity do not add up to wisdom; rather, they add up to destructive patterns of thought that can be habit-forming.

It takes minimal cleverness and maybe seven facial muscles to produce a smirk sufficiently smirkly to paralyze creativity. We've all had ideas, work, art, children, partners, etc., all victims of murder by smirk. It's an awful feeling. Even a non-lethal injection of scorn has the power to shut down many people once and for all.

Someone recently told me that a significant percentage of us would rather be hit by a bus than speak in public. People will go to extraordinary lengths, and forgo all kinds of wonderful activities just to avoid that particular kind of dismissive disdain.

The smirk murderer gets a cheap (and fleeting) sense of superiority from the disdain they are so generous about. "Look how clever I am to have seen this thing for the drek that it is." Negativity is not a philosophy, it doesn't uplift anyone, it teaches nothing constructive, and it hurts people in more ways than we'll ever know.

One thing is for sure, a life spent avoiding smirk murders can become a kind of prison. Likewise, nothing is gained by automatically suspecting motives. Expecting the worst can attract it.

The reverse is just as true. When you face the world with an honest expectation of the goodness, the results are pretty remarkable. I've recently decided to actively look for goodness in every area of my life. I'm also consciously expecting the best from the people in my life. Results have been amazing.

I get a lot more smiles. I feel closer to people. I'm happier, much happier. Opportunities have been abundant. Life has been abundant. Energy formerly spent being fearful has been returned with dividends.

Have I ever been fooled? You bet. Have I been cheated? Once or twice. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.