Phil Friedman

6 years ago · 3 min. reading time · 0 ·

Phil blog
Cynicism As Positivity

Cynicism As Positivity

If I Do Say So Myself I

Philcscphical Musings With an Edge



Cynicism As Positivity


Preface:  I first published a version of this article on LinkedIn and beBee not very long after  the Producer platform was launched. Since then, I've had some additional thoughts on the matter, which I would like to share with you. Not to beat a dead horse, but because I believe there is a genuine truth here that is frequently overlooked.

We generally these days take cynics to be people who display an attitude of scornful and jaded negativity, as well as being people with an ingrained distrust of the integrity and professed motives of others. In other words, we take cynics to be those among us who epitomize a crappy outlook on life. Hold that thought... 

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Cynicism | Definition of cynicism by Merriam-Webster
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In fact, the term "cynic" can be traced back to a school of ancient Greek philosophy, circa 400 BC. The Cynics of those days believed that one should live a life of virtue in harmony with nature. Philosophical cynics rejected conventional hunger for wealth, power, and fame. Instead, they sought to live a life free free of material possessions and shallow desire.

So you see, buried beneath a modern day edifice of scorn and seeming hopelessness, one finds a vault wherein there is room for optimism and positivity.

Wow, I don't believe I said that whole thing! Didn't think it was still in me, having left academia several decades ago. But get back on point...

Idealists envision how things ought to be, while realists accept them as they are. Only cynics compare the two, and rail against the disparity...

Cynics, I submit, are of the world, steeped in its realities, yet unaccepting of its shortcomings. They refuse at all times to go quietly into the night, but kick and scream and flail their fists — all the way to oblivion, if necessary.

And in our continual effort to prove them wrong, they are like an anvil against which a blacksmith's hammer forges a strong and useful tool.






I am personally not a big fan of Reinhold Niebuhr's exceedingly well known and widely lauded "Serenity Prayer" because I believe it unwittingly provides justification in most people's minds for doing nothing about almost everything that is wrong in this world.

As I see it, Niebuhr was an unrealistic idealist to think it of benefit to counsel people to accept that which they perceive cannot be changed, have the courage to change that which can, and  the wisdom to know one from the other.

As any true cynic will tell you, if we had an iota of wisdom in the first place, the world would not be in the state it is in.

Cynics may disagree with you. Indeed, they may even be disagreeable. But...
that does not make them trolls, nor clarions of negativity...

We've just passed the beginning of the New Year according to the ancient Hebrew Calendar. It is a time for spiritual renewal, and a commitment to greater understanding. And in that spirit, I commend to you the true cynics of the world. For they may, indeed, be key elements in our potential to achieve something better.

So, hug a cynic. Or pat one on the head. Perhaps take one for coffee or a beer. Maybe even really listen a bit to what some of them have to say. Keeping in mind that cynicism frequently spawns positivity.  — Phil Friedman

Text Copyright © 2016 by Phil Fnedman — All Rights Reserved

Author's Notes:   If you found this post interesting and worthwhile, and would like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. Better yet, elect there to follow my blog by email. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.

Should you be curious about some of my previous postings about social media, you're invited to take a look at some of the following:

"Social Media Is a Highway, Not a Destination"

"Do Not Mistake What Is for What Should Be"

"Finding Your Way Past Self-Reflection to Action"

As well, feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other articles — whether on beBee, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, provided only that you credit me properly as the author, and include a live link to my original post.

About me, Phil FriedmanWith 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation.

In a previous life, I was formally trained as an academic philosopher and taught logic and philosophy at university.

The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve their thought and writing, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal with disagreement.




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To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult email: I look forward to speaking with you soon.

                     Image Credits:  Phil Friedman,, Google Images



Phil Friedman

6 years ago #35

No, Maria, I am not. But I am also not spamming your posts, and would appreciate you not spamming mine. If you have something legitimate to say about what I write, you are free to do so. However, since all you want to do is promote your very phony ja-ja, zum-zum pretend-to-love-the-world self-promotion, I am asking you to do it somewhere else than on my posts. Otherwise I will send you a bill for marketing and advertising services rendered... And lots of negative energies.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #34

Maria, the last time you commented on one of my posts you sent me, in your own words, "negative energies". That did not worry me because my hart is pure --- and I am protected with spells and an amulet by a friend in the Caribbean who is an Obeah woman. But I would appreciate it if you did not spam my posts with your phones good wishes, for you have previously disclosed your truly uncharitable nature. Negative cheers to you!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #33

#49 Thanks, Graham, for reading and commenting. And for the kind words --- which are especially gratifying coming as they do from a "contrarian". As an alleged cynic, I personally have great admiration and affection for contrarians, who likewise serve a valuable societal function, IMO. Keep the faith, and watch your six. Cheers!

Graham🐝 Edwards

6 years ago #32

Thanks of the shout out Phil Friedman... my working definition of contrarian is "You say black and I will say white" so we can have the discussion to ensure it's really black. Even if I know it's black, it's always good to pressure test it. lol When it gets into the real world light you never know what it will look like.

Graham🐝 Edwards

6 years ago #31

This is a great read for any leader who wants to make better decisions Phil Friedman. In my humble opinion.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #30

Yes, Praveen, that is very true. And the world needs all of them --- something I personally have never denied. What I do reject, however, is the notion that we should accept what we believe we cannot change. For as I've said, that is too often an excuse for not doing anything, not even speaking out about something that should not be. Cynics, in the true sense of the word, make people uncomfortable. And to my mind, that is their calling in life, and their function in the scheme of things. Thank you for reading and commenting, as you always do, with genuine insight and understanding. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #29

Thank you for what, John? Pointing out I spelled a word wrong? Isn't that an OC action, for which no thanks are needed or appropriate. As to history, perhaps you should do something like what I've done to put an end to questions about my history, and for pissing matches. See below. :-) "I'll Show You Mine, Then You Show Me Yours" ( ) And ( )

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #28

For the record, the correct editorial device to use when quoting a phrase that contains a misspelled word or other error is "[sic]" inserted in the quote immediately after the error. We print media dinosaurs know this... And a lot of other stuff about which digital natives haven't a clue.Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #27

thank you, John, for reading and commenting. I think you agree that cynicism is often the necessary prerequisite to attaining clear vision, particularly on social media. Someone recently asked me if I didn't really mean "skepticism". I explained that a skeptic is actually a cynic without cajones. Graham Edwards describes himself as a "contrarian". I am not exactly sure what he means by that, but I do know that he calls 'em as he sees 'em. Which is what cynics do. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #26

Great to hear from you, Linda. Have missed your sensible contributions to the conversation back from the days of Writers4Writers on LinkedIn. Although I am not a beBee brand wrangler, I nevertheless welcome you to this potentially great platform. With a big hug back. Sent to you all the way to Colorado. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #25

#28 OMG, Gerald, let us not cast Pirsigs before.... Oh never mind, that pun will just get me into trouble over respect. I hope that anyone who has not read the book does so. It is a classic that takes a rightful place alongside Jack Kerouac's "On the Road". For those of you who don't know it, Pirsig was a graduate philosophy student just before he wrote it. Although he rode a motorcycle, he could barely change oil or a battery. But the theme of the book is concerned with, among other things, connecting on an existential level with life activities. It's bad academic philosophy, but great street philosophy. I've never really comprehended much about Zen Buddhism, so I would never venture an evaluation whether that was a legitimate reference or chosen simply because it made a good hook for the title of the book. However, the book definitely resonates at a gut level, and I would join Gerald in recommending it. Cancel my "OMG", Gerald.

don kerr

6 years ago #24


Phil Friedman

6 years ago #23

Don, it is symbolic of my respect for a comment that has appeared in this thread, which shall remain unidentified. The story of the tar baby is exceedingly instructive in some social media contexts. Thank you for reading and commenting with such erudition. Cheers!

don kerr

6 years ago #22

Yikes! #22

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #21

Gerald Hecht, since I will no longer access the scrolls for profane reasons, I am referring instead to this bit of wisdom:

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #20

Thank you, Milos, for reading and commenting. Cheers!

Milos Djukic

6 years ago #19

Cheers Phil Friedman, my friend. In my previous life I was a cynic, hug :)

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #18

Thank you, Jim, for reading and commenting. You, sir, are a curmudgeonly gentleman of the first order. Cheers!

Jim Murray

6 years ago #17

Nice Piece....signed, your fellow cynic, Grouchy.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #16

Fatima, thank you for reading and commenting. I am pleased that you found the post stimulating. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #15

10-4, Milos. That's an affirmative. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #14

Thank you, Gert, for reading and commenting. Yes, it takes a long jump to understand the true nature of cynicism, but once you've hit the opposite edge of the sand pit, you're on the path to gold. To spin a metaphor, so to speak. Cheers, my friend.

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

6 years ago #13

Cynics comments are indeed key elements in our potential to achieve something better ! I always turn any cynical comment to bring out something positive. A very intruging buzz enjoyed reading it.

Milos Djukic

6 years ago #12

Cynicism = No-Muzak?

Gert Scholtz

6 years ago #11

Phil Friedman This is certainly a new insight to me: cynicism is railing against the disparity of how things ought to be and how things are. Finely articulated as always Phil - thanks.

don kerr

6 years ago #10

Yeah. That works:)

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #9

Don, thank you for the kind words. Will you settle for TWO jugs?

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #8

thank you, Pascal, for reading and commenting. As for your understanding, I am not surprised. For you are of the real world --- where thwarted expectation is painful, and idealism is moved to take self-protective measures. Cheers!

don kerr

6 years ago #7

Good reposting @Phil Friedman (whom I can't tag here for some reason). As one who has been declared a cynic, perhaps with some modest justification, I appreciate the perspective and a little hug or jug sounds great!

Pascal Derrien

6 years ago #6

Cynics as frustrated idealists why not !! I can understand that Phil Friedman :-)

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #5

Franci, I agree. Personally I've never seen discussions over differences of opinion as having to do with proving anyone right or wrong, but trying as best as possible to achieve mutual movement toward, for want of a better term, truth. But discussion over differences of opinion is more than alternating statements of opinion. Discussion for me involves supporting reasons, explanation, and rational analysis. Of course, beer is good too. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Proving someone wrong usually isn't the best way to address a problematic issue. Finding a resolve makes more sense. 🍺

Kevin Pashuk

6 years ago #3

You've obviously melded with someone else... if you knew my bank account. All of my investments are in cameras and guitars.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #2

Thank you, Kevin, for the kind words. This mind-meld thing is great. This morning I was at the bank withdrawing some cash, and suddenly your account number and signature popped up right before my eyes. Thanks for the lunch.... and for dinner tonight... and for.... :-)

Kevin Pashuk

6 years ago #1

We must have done a Vulcan mind meld when we had coffee in Port Credit... Funnily enough, I was thinking this morning that I'd like to tackle cynicism in a post today... instead I wrote about lateral thinking since the mind meld likely let me know someone else would tackle it. Well done.

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