Jun 13, 2012

Cynicism - the secret to being happy!

"Why are you so cynical?"

"To be happy"

"What do you mean? How can you be happy if you have such a negative outlook?"

"Ah, I see yet another victim of the positive thinking myth. it's ok, there are millions like you."

"What do you mean myth? Everyone knows that optimists are happier people!"

"That's like saying ignorance is bliss. Doesn't mean that people who are ignorant of reality lead blissful lives"

"What are you saying exactly?"

"All I am saying is, positive thinking may be one way to happiness. Certainly not the only way. And sometimes, might even be the wrong way. Especially if you lose touch with reality..."

"But we have great examples of people who achieved so many great things against all odds, people who dared to dream big, and refused to succumb to the so-called 'reality' of their circumstances."

"Survivor bias. Please also look at the vast number of deluded folks still waiting for the whole universe to conspire to help them achieve it because they really want something. I have a simple message for them: The Universe doesn't give a rat's ass about what you want. In fact, from the point of view of the Universe, you would be tinier than the said rat's ass!"

"So, what do you suggest? People stop thinking positive? Stop dreaming about things they can achieve?"

"I never said stop dreaming. Dreams are precious. Life is meaningless in general, and dreams at least help you pretend that there is some purpose to it all. But yours dreams are yours. Nurture them. Help them grow. Watch over them carefully. Don't let the quacks of positive thinking lull you into believing that things will work out well in the end. Sometimes, they do. Most times, they don't.

Life isn't fair. Even if we accept that 'fairness' is an impartial concept, which it is not. At the end of it, everybody thinks they didn't get a fair deal, which just proves that only things that benefit us seem fair to us. It also proves that Life, or the Universe, isn't concerned about fairness and justice.

Hard work doesn't always pay off. The guys who work the hardest need not always get the highest rewards. And don't fall for the 'Work Smart, not Hard' myth either. The core message of the Gita might just have been misinterpreted. Efforts don't matter, results do. No use whining that I put in my best effort, but things didn't work out. The fact that they didn't just means you don't control all the variables. Accept your limitations. More importantly, when things do go the way you want, don't get puffed up on how you 'visualized' your way to success. Accept your limitations. The world could certainly do with less hubris.

What you believe is merit might in fact be, in the words of a famous investor, a winning ovarian lottery ticket. Besides, believing that merit should be rewarded is a proxy for believing that the world should be fair. Which it isn't. Some people luck out. Others run out of luck. So, deal with it.

Be cynical. Expect the worst. That way, if things don't go your way, you can fool yourself saying that you knew life was out to screw you anyway. And then when things work out less disastrously than you imagined, I promise you that you'll be really happy."

"Wow, now you are beginning to sound like the very preachers you hate."

"Guilty as charged..."
PS1: This is a note to self, but written here since I don't keep a separate diary. Not to be taken as "Preachings  of Kirukuananda".

PS2: Reflections caused as a result of reading myriad stuff such as the smug, self-congratulatory pieces of some bankers in the Voices of Finance series, the rabid comments to the same pieces, the debate on whether the markets reward merit or not, and seeing people crib after getting bonuses that some people would be happy to earn over half a decade, and wondering whether it all makes sense and what the heck am I doing in the middle of this race that I don't want to run!

PS3: As one keeps getting older, one tends to delude oneself with such pseudo-philosophical gyaan. Hoping for inspiration to strike for a bout of good old PJs to feel a bit younger again!


  1. Anonymous12:15 PM

    What were we expecting Siva,we should have known you are turning into a 30 hitting geriatric.
    Cynical is the way to be.
    After all Murphy baba has us all in his sway .

  2. Anonymous12:20 PM

    ...and get married,you'll shed some cynicism of yours,if not exactly turn into a grinning teenager.
    There,now you have people advising you in black and white.

  3. Hi Siva,

    Assuming that is your name since anonymous has addressed you with the name!

    Have been following your blog for a long time now. And have always appreciated your writing.

    This piece was excellent and it really opens a lot of insight into a deluded world that keeps thinking positive thinking is the solution to all problems :)

    Great post congrats :)

  4. Anonymous4:17 AM

    Love all your posts..

    What you are talking about is being a 'realist'.. cynical optimism...

    got me thinking..

  5. Anonymous7:29 AM

    Nice post!
    can you share,if possible in bullet points,your mantra of living life?
    whatever logic you've figured out life has in its randomness?
    frankly,a cynic like you should not have become a meat eater just because he was away from home for a long time and couldn't figure out life.
    some things don't take too much to figure out now,do they?

    and is siva/shiva(?) your name?

  6. @ Anon:
    I wouldn't know what you were expecting... maybe I can guess if you did identify yourself!
    But I agree that I am turning into a cynical geriatric, and about being in the sway of Murphy.

    I choose to ignore the advice in the second comment.

    @ Mahesh:
    Yes, but does the name matter? I mean, for so long, you have identified me as 'Kiruku' or 'SRK' and continued to read, so keep reading and don't bother about the name :)

    And thanks for the nice comments :)

    @ Anon 2:
    'realistically', I am still talking about being cynical :)

    @ Anon 3:
    I will share it once I figure it out myself. For now, I am in the 'it doesn't make sense anyway, so do whatever makes you happy' zone...

    and couldn't understand the link between being cynical and becoming a meat-eater... let's just say I tasted blood once, and I was hooked :)

    again, don't bother about the name :)

  7. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Just thinking if cynicism is related to atheism...

  8. Anonymous10:43 PM

    Cmon,a person with anew house and cynical? Thay don't go together.

  9. @ Anon 4:
    Cynicism related to atheism? Let's see...

    Every religion I can think of vividly describes 'the End' whether it be Rapture or Kalki coming on his white horse... they picture this whole world going up in flames, being drowned, or being afflicted by plague and hunger, war and general destruction.

    Not to mention living in constant fear of Judgment Day or Chitragupta's book-keeping (btw, does he follow double entry system?), and hence expecting the worst not only in this life, but even in some imaginary after-life.

    So, compared to the religious, I am a bloody positive thinker!

    @ Anon 5:
    A new house is because one needs to stay somewhere, instead of shifting residence every 11 months. Nothing to do with positive thinking.

  10. Positive thinker or not, one should definitely not lose sight of reality. :)

  11. I am really intrigued by your post.
    I happen to believe in Coelho's words that when you desire something with all your heart, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve your dreams. These words have always given me hope to go further in life.
    Ofcourse sometimes things may not work out as you want them to. But that just means you are not yet ready for it. It doesn't mean that the world is really unfair.
    I, for instance would rather prefer to live under your so-called illusion than live under the constant fear of expecting the worst.
    I find life too precious to be cynical.

  12. @ AKM:
    Welcome back :)
    and realistic thinking doesn't really go with positive thinking, at least in my books...

    @ Nivix:
    Firstly, to each his own.
    Secondly, if something gives you hope, stick with it. My only problem with that 'Universe conspiring' is that it reflects unfairly on those who didn't end up on the winning side of the ovarian lottery... and by implication of such statements are blamed for not "really wanting something"

    like say you come across a slum-dweller whose rickety tin-shed got demolished and he's sitting roofless in the rain. You think he doesn't qualify for the "really want something with all your heart" club? I would think he wants a roof with more passion say, a well-fed, sheltered person wishing for say, a good exam result. I don't see the Universe conspiring to give him a roof.

  13. Of course I don't say that you being cynical towards life is wrong.
    But when I said "wanting something with all your heart" it also means that you must take steps towards that dream of yours and not just day dream. Once you are prepared to give your best efforts then the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve your dreams.
    Also every person will be tested severely before they can realize their dreams. we must have the perseverance.(I might seem to be parroting Coelho's words but it gives me hope:) )

  14. @ Nivix:
    People who put their best efforts, heart and soul into something still may end up not getting what they want. Explain.

  15. Ahhhh... there you go again... once again being cynical. I guess it finally comes down to that you can never think along my lines and I can never think along your lines...

  16. @ Nivix:
    If I am not thinking along your lines, may be it is because you haven't wished for it to happen with all your heart? Keep trying and the universe might just conspire to make it happen!

    (Just kidding. No offence)