On Cynicism and Pessimism

Hello my friends,

I have come to realize how prominent being cynicism and pessimism are in my life; I always believe have ulterior motives for any action they make and thus are wholeheartedly dishonest about their conduct, I always assume for the worst possible results to happen, which in a way has helped to to curb any dhow of surprise or amazement if such a bad result would occur. I notice sin in almost everything and everyone, with myself being the one who harbours the most. I unfortunately see achieving salvation by means of avoiding any evil than doing any good. I realize how cynical I am about prayer and sometimes think to myself that I am praying to nothing more than silence and that nothing will result out of any said prayer. I realize that this sin is not a healthy mindset to a person of faith and I would very much appreciate any advice you can give me to get rid of this disposition of mine; it would be very much appreciated.

Thank you for reading.

That’s a lot to tackle. I’ll leave that to others. The only thing I’ll offer you is a quote from Bishop Fulton Sheen. He once said, “you cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time.” Think about that. Develop an attitude of gratitude in life, live it, and you might find the cynicism and pessimism vanish.

One other thought. Chist once said, “…do not worry about what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or what we shall wear … Let the day’s own troubles be sufficient to the day.” Don’t get bogged down by things over which you have no control.

Good luck and Shalom

Keep in mind that you may be overly conflating a psychological state with sin. Some people are naturally pessimistic or have learned to be that way through their life. Some people may naturally use pessimism as a way to insulate against negative outcomes, so called defensive pessimism. Some people may grow up in an environment where people mistreat them, and naturally they become accustomed to expecting the worst.

The fact is that no one on this forum will know you well enough to make this judgement. If your mental state is upsetting to you, you must consider finding a psychologist who can help you work through these things and set you on a helpful path. Likewise, talking with your priest can help you address the spiritual side of your concerns. God bless.

If you read, ‘The Imitation of Christ’, it contains a lot of things that seem very pessimistic (about human tendencies to sin and the possibility of earthly happiness [or lack thereof]).

Anyway, doubting that your prayers are going to be answered is not necessarily doubt of God, but can be a doubt of whether you are praying for the right thing. For example, if I prayed that someone with terminal cancer will get better, I know it probably won’t be answered, but that because I may be praying for the wrong thing! (I should be praying that they have a peaceful death).

My suggestion is, read Marcus Aurelius “Meditations”. The basic message is- we need only concern ourselves with what is genuinely under our control. And the only thing genuinely under our control is the morality and decency of our own conduct. You can’t make yourself a ‘fake optimist’- but you can make yourself unconcerned with what doesn’t matter (the external world), and derive your happiness from what does matter (the state of your soul, God, eternal life).

Another piece of advice- find something which amuses you, or entertains you- and pursue it!

Remember- disposition is also (to a degree) influenced by diet, physical fitness, etc. (it’s something to do with hormones, or enzymes). Eating a high fibre diet is said to cause an improvement in feelings of emotional well-being. A simple thing like not enough iron or Vitamin B can contribute to a melancholic disposition.

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