I’ve spent too much time on Twitter and it has driven a black stake through my generative heart.
Since November of last year, I’ve been suffering a severe spell of cynicism that has me doubting my own creative and innovative efforts. My hope in starting IdeaMonger a year ago was to spotlight and encourage the hidden, underserved innovators and creators who work outside the mainstream. Innovation and creativity are democratic, American-dream traits. If wielded courageously and honorably, the myth goes, these tools help anyone anywhere to change lives and shape their own fortune. Now, a divisive political and ethical pall smothers my spirits: the itchy woolen blanket of cynicism is spread wide and heavy. Deception and treachery seem to be the tools of choice to gain power and fortune in this country.
See what I did in that last paragraph? Talked myself into a hole? This blog post is my attempt to snap out of it…and, maybe snap you out, too? In the face of the current cultural and political climate in our country, it is more important than ever to advance creativity over cynicism; innovation over ideology.
Creativity and innovation thrive on possibility and openness. Cynicism emanates from fear of vulnerability and a demand for certainty in the midst of flux. Fighting cynicism breeds more cynicism. But it disappears by itself when met with compassion, curiosity and continuous forward motion.
Talking Myself Out Of It
Here are the top five mental mantras I’m using to hold cynicism at bay and keep positive productivity on the rails.
1. Stop ranting. Venting usually breeds more venting. Quit intoxicating myself with social media gossip and outrage regarding people and situations over which I have little or no control...mentioning no one in specific...but, for instance, maybe people whose names rhyme with Schmonald Schmump.
2. Assess anger. Anger and cynicism can produce clever ideas…but not necessarily usefully creative and innovative ones. Don’t embrace anger and don’t push it away, either. Learn from it.
“A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. Choose curiosity. Actively pursue what’s new and next with a beginner’s mind that allows for possibility and potential.
4. Nevertheless, persist. Get back up off your butt and, if necessary, write a self-indulgent blog post to publicly commit yourself to a more useful frame of mind. Consistent positive action, even in the midst of cynical miasma, can lift the fog and produce powerful new ideas leading to more positive action and around again.
5. Stay open. Be neither pessimist nor optimist but stay awake and receptive to what is happening without judgment. Who knows what direction things will turn but we all know that they will indeed turn sooner or later.
Cynicism presumes predetermined failure.
Optimism latches on to the future at the expense of now.
Openness is now while ignoring neither past nor future.
"The greater part of truth is always hidden, in regions out of reach of cynicism." J. R. R. Tolkien
I am open to story ideas that help uphold IdeaMonger’s mission of championing creativity and innovation from under-served, under-recognized sources. Please share them and join me in replacing cynicism with creativity and curiosity.