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What does fresh hope sound like for cynical colleagues? (How to Talk #3)

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A credible word spoken boldly

Constant cynicism is a downward spiral that saps energy, like the dome light on all night—little by little wasting energy for no reason. Eventually the car will not start. Have a conversation with a cynic and the world looks a shade or two darker.

Offering fresh hope to a cynical colleague is not about squatting at the other end of the emotional spectrum, babbling like a Pollyanna. That is quickly seen as fanciful.



Fresh hope is a word of the moment that is credible and believable. A word about where we are going or what we are doing that becomes meaningful. If not meaningful right now, meaningful later. Fresh hope has a way of stopping the cynic, if only momentarily. But even the cynic finds herself meditating on a word spoken yesterday or the day before. The cynic happily shoots down the platitude, but his trigger-finger falters at a contextual insight from a conscious person processing a shared experience.

Fresh hope requires a bit of courage. Cynicism and general world-weariness is always in style.

But hope? Not so much.

But what’s the point of conversation if not to speak up boldly about what is important?


Dumb sketch: Kirk Livingston

How to Regain Wonder

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Target cannot sell you a loaf of wonder

tumblr_mih9w8F9JC1qbmgeto1_1280-02212013It would seem that life beats wonder out of us. This project went sour. That team sucks. My career seems more about false starts and abrupt ends than ascendancy to the corner office. The boss or CEO or pastor or professor are in it for the money or the power or both. People and institutions disappoint.

It’s easy to paint most anything black with the brush strokes of cynicism. Our culture largely applauds and rewards this attitude, often providing pulpits for the world-weary naysayers. It’s a stance we learn early in life. We chide optimists as Pollyanna and naïve.

But if you look around, it isn’t the cynics who make things different. It’s the people with faith. I’m not talking about religion, though faith in God applies big time. It’s the people with a sense that things don’t have to be this way, that there might be a better way. And beyond that: people with a basic wonder at how the world works. People with a sense of wonder and curiosity are the refreshing people who are fun to be around. They entertain just by pointing out the invisible stuff that we never thought to think about. These are the gratitudists, whose stance of thanks sweetens the well for all around. Their faith and wonder refuse to let today’s seeming realities push forward as tomorrow’s certainties.

Where do you find wonder in your life? Hostess has closed and Wonder bread may or may not be available. But I plan on seeking out those places and people where wonder presents.


Image credit: Adam Pękalski via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

February 21, 2013 at 8:48 am

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