Cynicism is the anti-art.
Here’s what I mean by that: being an artist and living a creative lifestyle is fueled by an open minded, curious attitude about the world and other people. Cynicism is characterized by anger, disconnection and a complete lack of curiosity and wonderment about the universe. Once cynicism infects—or rather once optimism is lost—in our creative pursuits, it begins to taint everything.
Milestones of achievement become deadlines. Instead of working toward excellence with excitement, we work away from failure out of fear. What was once a mountaintop becomes a cliff. Art becomes a mechanical, mindless process instead of an expression of joy and wonder.
The journey of business (and of life itself) becomes an obsession about the destination. Get the project done—land the next client—achieve the next goal—make the next dollar. An optimistic take on business sees it as a tool to share talents and form relationships in order to maximize our greatness and the greatness of people around us.
Life—especially life as an artist—can be too much sometimes and cynicism seeps in through the cracks. Staying centered yet open is the journey of a lifetime, but the most important thing is to be kind to others and ourselves. Cynicism and fear is not broken through force. It’s dissolved through love.
Stay optimistic and curious my friends. Your lives depend on it.
I’m writing this because I don’t hear enough people saying this: It’s ok to have times when you doubt all your decisions and have no motivation to move your life, career and visions forward. Even getting out of bed in the morning can be overwhelming, let alone finding clients, pitching ideas and pushing projects forward. Relax. Life is not a race.
I’ve found the key to moving quickly past those times to not immediately resorting to mental self-abuse. I’m referring to that internal slave driver that keeps pushing you to be productive and fix things. In fact, continuing to push forward and fight against what your mind is telling you often drives further into overwhelmed feelings, frustration and depression.
So, take it easy on yourself and do the tasks that need to be done, but gift yourself (that’s not a typo) time to reevaluate and contemplate before moving forward. There’s a reason you’re feeling that way after all. During these times I also revisit my goals and dreams to help keep them alive – learn about a travel destination or read a bit of a foreign language.
I also find that reconnecting with people – friends, acquaintances or even strangers – can be very rejuvenating too. If you’re anything like me, that’s the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling like a failure, but I can’t deny that it works. Getting outside of your head and sharing in other people’s lives restores a sense of curiosity in the world and a healthful, positive energy.
Lastly, if you’re feeling this way, it’s worth stopping and taking a good, hard look at where these feelings are coming from. I find a lot of the time it’s from one or two problems that are unresolved. Even if the problems aren’t immediately fixable, it helps to know that only 1 thing is wack. The rest of your life is still ok.