5 tips to defeat cynicism

(excerpts from a post in The Daily Mind)

The Oxford English Dictionary defines cynicism in a very enlightening way: “…a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions…”

The main thing to notice about the definition is the presence of negativity. A cynical person will almost always choose to doubt, disbelieve or discredit, even when there is no logical reason to do so.

So why do people think and behave like this? There are many schools of thought on the matter – some regard cynicism as a personal defense mechanism whereby people prevent themselves from opening up to love and friendship for fear of being hurt. Others say it comes about due to a traumatic event that occurred in childhood and caused a person to “close up”.

Here are some super simple things you can do to get yourself on the path of positive thinking and away from those habits of cynicism:

1. Recognize the problem
As with all problems the first step is in the recognizing. Some people go their whole lives not realizing that they are horrible people with miserly outlooks and cynical views of the world. Thank yourself lucky that you have had the good fortune to recognize the problem and do something about it. This is the first step.

2. Recognize each cynical thought
Once you have realized that you can be a cynic the task is to start realizing it more often. Think of this as a bit of a mindfulness meditation. The idea is to become attuned to your own mind and thoughts and start to become aware of every cynical thought that you have.

3. Use logic to debate the cynicism

Logic is a wonderful thing. Logic allows you to overcome destructive emotions and other negative things in your life. Why? Because 99% of the time the reason for your depression, anxiety, hatred or other negative feeling is illogical. If you debate the negative feeling using logic you will often find that the negative feeling gets weaker.

4. Make a definitive choice to be positive
Everything good in life comes from a choice. When you make a choice to do something you do everything that you can to make that thing come about.

5. Focus on people’s qualities
The last method I want to give you is the one that has worked the best for me. It is the simple art of choosing to look at people’s qualities instead of their negative attributes.

if you are a cynical person and you find that you have no friends, a bad job, poor social life and are generally unhappy then you could conclude that the results of your cynicism were bad. This is the type to avoid. If, however, you find that your cynicism helps you to avoid trouble then you can conclude that it is a good type.
Make sure you learn the difference.


  1. […] From Paulo Coelho’s Blog: 5 tips to defeat cynicism […]

  2. Sweet says:

    I read this and I would admit that I’m one of it and think I am. I do feel it too like being guilty w/c I blame myself to everything, less confidence, low-self esteem, doubtful to other and even myself, less in sharing thoughts, truly hard to trust, easy to depression/s, unhappy, chose to be alone-also hoping better not be, no one close; if there would be, back again on doubts and all those lows…hard to understand myself and others, best in distance when it comes to relationships/friendships, and I think etc..

    Before this post that I read, did some adjustments towards my negativity thoughts through looking positive thoughts, your advice are exactly what I did but maybe not so much aware of it there is what I looking for more than on solutions so might be losing/degrading hopes. But when your post I read its different, there is hope back again and this enthusiasm in me to do it all to keep going on. I’m on right track. Amaze for it.

    Thank you Paulo/s-working on Paulo Coelho, because I do now know more myself, I can avoid it and do believe more on “I WILL BE CHANGE FOR THE BETTER”. Help me God, universe, nature and all God’s grace.

    Keep writting-encourage more and more, may the power have in you(all).

    Truly love and grateful,

  3. karina says:

    Pessoas cí­nicas sao altamente perigosas , sem sentimentos, que usam e abusam sem remorso, medo e vergonha. Caracterí­stica de psicopatas!

  4. frederic says:

    the more difficult is to be able of logic.and then to be able to make the good choice.!

  5. Of Anton Ni says:


  6. jasreen k says:

    yeah…i reah ur article … i was highly impressed by it. The thing is, i am very cynical in life…. i dont let any one come close to me and all i see is negatives about myself, allthou people say i am a really good person, i dont believe them. And another problem is i can only see good in people, i cannot see any negatives about them. soo please help me find a solution to my problems.

  7. Beatriz Mendonça says:

    The problem is that cynicism actually always comes in a “package” of other horrible characteristics, such as envy, the inclination to diminish or demean others, deceit, debauchery, or even the lack of heart and ability to truly love others. The problem is that the cynic will never recognize their own cynicism, since part of the problem that he regarded this feature as a quality, a way of seeing the world and people in a critical and defensive. There is much in all this loneliness, lack of love and a lot of human solidarity.

  8. Beatriz Mendonça says:

    O problema é que o cinismo, na verdade, vem sempre num “pacote” de outras caracterí­sticas horrí­veis, como a inveja, a inclinaí§í£o para diminuir ou humilhar o próximo, a falsidade, o deboche, ou seja, a falta mesmo de coraí§í£o e da capacidade de amar os outros verdadeiramente. O problema é que o cí­nico jamais irá reconhecer o próprio cinismo, uma vez que faz parte do problema o fato de ele considerar esta caracterí­stica como uma qualidade, uma forma de ver o mundo e as pessoas de forma crí­tica e defensiva. Existe muita solidí£o nisso tudo, muita falta de amor e de solidariedade humana.

  9. SaraeV says:

    Thank you Coelho for the post. I’ve come to understand that both the cynic and the victim of cynicism have one point in common; they need excuse and justification for their actions because introspecting on where the self-conscience or the self-respect goes is much more difficult and complex and causes more stress to finally comprehend and know the real inner-personality then to just accusing the other person as the guilty one. It s like 2 different poles and you need to be in the center and manage to not letting yourself drown in one particular type; and that s an “everyday challenge”

  10. Stiff meister says:

    Interesting, but hard to DO considering most people on this mud ball called Earth are grade A quality cunts.

  11. JOELLE says:

    Parfois le cynisme va jusqu’í  la destruction de la personnalité . L’í¢me est entravée de négativité et toutes les actions qu’elle entreprend lui semblent infructueuses . Elle ne l’embellisse pas car elle se contente du jugement de l’autre ou des autres . Le mieux est de s’éloigner des autres pour reprendre le goí»t de la vie et réapprendre í  s’aimer . L’existence ne doit pas íªtre un fardeau et la traverser comme si c’était unepeine í  accomplir . Tous les jours nous devrions remplir un tableau des choses í  accomplir et une fois faites , ranger les négatives d’un cí´té et les jeter í  la poubelle pour ne pas recommncer après . Mais surtout ne pas oublier d’écrire sur un beau tableau celles que nous avons terminées avec succès . La vie est faite de petits parcours í  exécuter sans regrets afin de pouvoir se regarder en face . Ne céder pas í  la terreur personne n’est parfait . Chacun a sa part de bon dans le mauvais et de mauvais dans le bon dans l’existence . Il faut savoir s’étendre de temps en temps au solil lorsqu’on est trop souvent í  l’ombre . L’mour de soi doit passer avant l’amour des autres car c’est ainsi que nous donnons le meilleur í  tout le monde. Le cynique ne se nourrit que du positif de l’autre et vous renvoie le négatif que vous ressentez í  l’intérieur . Les roses ont des épines, parfois ellesn’ont aucune odeur car elles sont nées sans parfum. Elles se fanent vite et un petit brin de soleil suffit í  faire épanouir un joli bouton mais lorsqu’elles s’ouvrent , leur splendeur est éphémère . La générosité cchez certains l’est également, elle se transforme en terreur et vous vous sentez prisonniers, vous sombrez dans la dépression , la pente est difficile í  remonter et il y a plein d’aspérités í  franchir . Vous terminez l’escalade avec les mains toutes déchirées et sans ongles. La vie est faite de défis personnels í  relever non pas de guerres í  faire contre vous-míªme si vous désirez finir celle ci sans remords, en regardant le passé en relevant les épaules, et en levant la tíªte fière du chemin parcouru .

  12. sonu says:

    Got something to learn

  13. Carrasco Araceli says:

    Very true thank you specially # 5

  14. Margaret says:

    “Some people go their whole lives not realizing that they are horrible people”, you said?
    Someone has emotional issues and is terribly unhappy, so you offer him/her the comforting notion that s/he also is horrible?
    How very kind of you.

  15. akarsh says:


  16. James says:

    So you’re being cynical about people being cynical, *head explodes*

  17. Atreyu says:

    Cuando tu estado mental cambia los cí­nicos desaparecen, porque ya no pueden atravesar tus murallas, tampoco se les ocurre intentarlo porque pueden salir mal parados.

    En fin, no hay nada que explicar, cuando se avanza se ve más claro.

    Un saludo.

  18. Robina Lees says:

    Connecting with the energy of a smile for the process above keeps my energy pure. Namaste.

  19. toñi says:

    Hoy tuve una conversación con un cí­nico de los peligrosos. Me llamó con mucho “cinismo” y soberbia y me pidió mi correo electrónico. Yo, con mi actitud de “estado zen” le di mi correo electrónico, y seguidamente recibí­ un correo electrónico esperpentico, habí­a una pequeña frase que me molestó que decí­a así­: “me reitero en lo que le dije el otro dí­a de que me mande usted “tal y tal”!!. Respiré profundamente, busqué en mis correos lo que esta persona me solicitaba y…le reenvié un correo electrónico que ya he enviado otras tantas veces desde meses atrás, uno sobre otro con sus fechas y con la información que me pedí­a “reiteradamente”. Así­ a palo seco, sin saludos de “buenos dí­as ” y sin despedirme con “saludos cordiales” ni nada de nada. El bloqueo es la mejor fórmula contra un “cí­nico” de los peligrosos. Porque a veces a un grosero se le tiene que devolver “su groserí­a” con discreción y educación para hacerles pensar un poco. ¿Me ha afectado? pues no, porque el hecho de que una persona te intente tratar como si fueras tonto, no quiere decir que lo seas. Y frente a eso lo que hay que hacer es demostrarle dos cosas: que eres más inteligente de lo que se piensa y que además tienes más modales y más educación que él. Dos no se pelean si uno no quiere. Un abrazo,

  20. ashy says:

    Creo demasiado en la gente ,me duele mucho cuando me cruzo con este tipo de personas y muchas veces ponen en mi boca ,palabras e intenciones que no tengo ,mal interpretan a su gusto ,porque son ellos los que tienen la mente impregnada de malos pensamientos
    Estoy de acuerdo ,con estas definiciones,
    ¨por qué las personas piensan y se comportan de esta manera? Hay muchas escuelas de pensamiento sobre la materia – un poco de cinismo respecto como un mecanismo de defensa personal mediante el cual las personas se impide la apertura al amor ya la amistad por temor a ser herido. Otros dicen que se produce debido a un acontecimiento traumático que ocurrió en la infancia y causó que una persona “se cierre.

  21. Mohamed Saed says:

    One of the most relevant subjects of today when the number of cynics are in increasing due to the complexity of modern life and the tension and turmoil dominating the media. Can it be described as a synonym of pessimism? Thank you, Sir, for showing us the practical ways of dealing with this problem. The circumstances in which one is born and brought up and the bitter experiences he or she had has undergone in his childhood do contribute to this malady. To get rid of it easier said than done. See how the learned author has shows us how to benefit even from cynicism.

  22. Alexa says:

    I think happiness is the best cure…

  23. mcm says:

    Good sense of humour.:)
    Thank you.

  24. heart says:

    Poison? No thanks.

  25. LoveM says:

    Your cynical view
    How can it ever serve you
    Your world is your view

    Use your discernment
    To smell a rotten egg..O
    Without a judgement

    Don’t look for reasons
    To make yourself unhappy
    Mind… the joy breaker

    The biggest mistake
    Thinking that someone else is
    Something you are not

    My people problem
    How I look is who I see
    Looking back at me

    Marvellous Mystery
    How I look is what I see
    Coming back to me

    Everything’s present
    In Totality so…own
    All that you perceive

    Looking in your eyes
    I see the One who dwells there
    Spotless consciousness

  26. Pandora says:

    “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
    Oscar Wilde
    Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900)

    1. karina says:

      Disse tudo!

  27. Ana says:

    Sr. Paulo, muchas gracias por compartir este tipo de reflexiones con nosotros sus seguidores. Soy de Venezuela, Paí­s que actualmente está pasando por no muy favorable situación polí­tica. Como seres humanos le hemos puesto toda la confianza a un candidato quien prometió que saldrí­amos adelante, seguimos confiando en el; el problema es que ganó el candidato que poco a poco ha hecho bajar nuestra calidad de vida. Vivir aquí­ no garantiza la existencia, la inseguridad y delincuencia ha ido terminando con personas que buscan superarse personal y económicamente, nadie sabe qué sucederá el dí­a de mañana. Disculpe que hable de polí­tica en su web, deseo agregar que hace unos dí­as estuve leyendo Como el rí­o que fluye antes de las elecciones presidenciales en Venezuela y leí­ un escrito el cual mencionó que al viajar a otros paí­ses no comparemos y conozcamos su esencia. Cada uno tiene su gente y culturas distintas que hay que respetar. Cabe destacar que esa lectura llegó a muy buen tiempo y a los venezolanos que lean esto se las recomiendo. Dios es grande, Él sabe el por qué de ésta decisión y estoy segura que con su luz nos iluminará y no nos convertiremos en un pobre Paí­s que lamentablemente, es lo que se espera. Otra razón por la que hablo sobre el tema, es debido a que leí­ <> pero se referí­a al libro Aleph y un problema que hubo en la Aduana de Venezuela. Saludos Paulo, le admiro profundamente y gracias por cada una de sus publicaciones, libros, artí­culos, reflexiones, han sido agentes de cambio <> en mi vida. Un abrazo!!!

  28. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

    It seems that these words of wisdom can help many of us. Learn to recognize its negative side is the first step to happiness.
    We are made “‹”‹to live in groups, sometimes in packs like wolves our cousins, or couple as some birds. But a face or negative words endlessly bored around us, and people move away substantially.
    Dear Paulo, thank you so much, for this beautiful “roadmap” which can be replay alone with ourselves, to look inside finally and move towards the light.
    M. Chris

  29. Daniel says:

    Inside an angel, there is a demon inside a demon, there is an angel,
    If The Almighty God did not see the good in us, would we so-called Mankind even exist now?


  30. My problem seem to be the opposite, that I believe in people’s goodness and amicable intentions but then suddenly realize the majority has agendas, to loose boundaries, are lying, lacking initiative or simply not doing what they said they would. Then I become disappointed and loosing trust, as well as not feeling respected. It seems like the real issue is a matter of expectations, which I suppose in the best of worlds we shouldn’t have at all, either way.

    1. ashy says:

      Creo demasiado en la gente ,me duele mucho cuando me cruzo con este tipo de personas y muchas veces ponen en mi boca ,palabras e intenciones que no tengo ,mal interpretan a su gusto ,porque son ellos los que tienen la mente impregnada de malos pensamientos
      Estoy de acuerdo ,con estas definiciones,
      ¨por qué las personas piensan y se comportan de esta manera? Hay muchas escuelas de pensamiento sobre la materia – un poco de cinismo respecto como un mecanismo de defensa personal mediante el cual las personas se impide la apertura al amor ya la amistad por temor a ser herido. Otros dicen que se produce debido a un acontecimiento traumático que ocurrió en la infancia y causó que una persona “se cierre.

  31. Thank you! A very useful post. Both enlightening and interesting.
    Though I have a positive, optimistic genereal outlook on life, I just realized that I’m quite cynical at times.
    I believe in the good in people, but “the good” must often be found through some hard digging..!

    Have an amazing day, Paulo!

  32. Alexa says:

    Right…not so simple and easy. As they mention might be a result of traumatic event, or events I dare say. If some encounter bad people who did lot of harm and other unfair situations, is natural that you learn the lesson and try to avoid that thing again. If we think everybody is good and want only your best and they are sincere and fair, we are not realistic. As black and white, there are evil and good people. I do not say only bad people, but what we need is to recognize the bad and avoid or treat them right way, and sure stay near the good people. I think there are good persons still, and that is the beauty of the life. Instead of dreaming that bad people are good, do your own job, live your life, dont waste time trying to find something good in evil.
    My opinion
    Long life to good people

  33. MR says:

    Bom, tenho um pouco d cí­nismo, mas tenho um pouco d muitas coisas… Gosto d acreditar no q sinto, por + q me prejudique algumas vzs, vale muito a pena ACREDITAR… SEMPRE.

  34. Aieelen Denise Tecson says:

    i’m your number 1 fan sir Paulo, you keep on inspiring me.. Thank you so much, hope you could inspire more readers on your blog.. God bless you more..

  35. Begoña says:

    Lo de la lógica me parece perfecto, cómo sino resolver los problemas sin margen de error,pero pienso que la Intuición en un primer momento nos sirve para tomar posiciones, aunque sea el silogismo empí­rico como prueba cientificamente reconocida el que permite una conclusión certera, sin olvidar por supuesto algo muy tuyo, Paulo, y cuyos buenos resultados he comprobado por mi misma, que es: Que en el Error está la solución.

  36. tabi-labkhand says:

    Thank u Dear Coelho
    But sometimes u cant trust to people because of selfish , jealosy and … some times even u give them honey they bite ur finger then it make u become cynicism about most people.If i got the meaning of the word cynicism.

  37. cristina cabral says:

    Good lesson!

  38. We always have a choice. We do not have a choice in the outcome of our actions or reactions.

    Sometimes we just end being our own worst enemy, victimizing ourselves. What if we took responsibility for our given situations? Look to changing internally instead of criticizing external events. We all the ability to reason, let’s practice in putting into place.

  39. Atreyu says:

    Que cada cual siga su camino.

    Hay personas bien intencionadas y personas que no, hay personas mal pensadas y personas que no. Que es lo correcto? Pues no lo se, camino y eso es suficiente.

    Creo que no podemos ver hasta que no tenemos limpios los ojos. Si ha de ser, la vista se aclarará, si no, pues nada.

    Un sano saludo a todos.

    1. ashy says:

      Considero que las personas mal intencionada y mal pensadas son seres oscuros y egoistas ,que depositan en los demas sus miserias personales ,es muy dificil cuando estas al lado de alguien asi y esperas que algun dia cambie y llega el dia que cambia ,pero obviamente buscando su bienestar y claro esta ,que el daño que ocasiono a su alrededor es dificil de remediar ,pero reconozco que el daño ocasionado es culpa de quien lo soporto y no tuvo el valor de actuar.
      Cuando hablas de estar sano ,quien lo esta?solo hay que tener en cuenta que mientras tengamos conciencia debemos valorarnos como personas y que son pocas las personas que comparten esa buena energia ,lo importante es mantener el alma sana a pesar de todo y de todos .

  40. Olta Canka says:

    Enlightening! I didn’t knew what Cynicism really was.
    Interesting post.

    Love :)

    1. emre says:

      i totally agree with you.Thank you

  41. Daniel says:

    cyn·i·cism is both contagious and dangerous, it causes doubt and makes one fall into a deeper sleep then the one we are already in, making it
    “Impossilel to See the Golden Thread,The Truth,
    Or path that can lead you to the Truth , Wisdom,
    Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known.


  42. Irina Black says:

    Четыре темперамента на шляпу сели.
    А прореагировали..
    Уж,как сумели.
    Херлуф так Бидструп характер увидал..и место равное им дал.(Композиция)

  43. toñi says:

    Hola! Empezamos bien el dí­a con la palabra cinismo. Yo creo que todas las palabras que definen sentimientos o actitudes tienen un doble sentido: el negativo y el positivo. Es como por ejemplo: la envidia. Hay dos tipos de envidia. (Esto lo explicaba Miguel de Cervantes en referencia a su libro El Quijote de la Mancha). Tenemos la envidia que nos dirige hacia el odio y la enfermedad que es odiar a alguien porque posee cualidades que nosotros no tenemos o pensamos que no tenemos, y …luego está la envidia positiva de sentir envidia de las cualidades de otra persona pero no odiar a esa persona sino que nos enfocamos en admirar sus cualidades e intentar aprender de esa persona. La envidia positiva es admiración de “qué envidia, te admiro, me gustarí­a ser como tú y aprender de ti” esta envidia ya no es envidia es admiración. Con el cinismo ocurre lo mismo,…valla,… he buscado en el diccionario español esta palabra y me sale que es aquel perteneciente a una escuela griega fundada por Antí­stenes y Diógenes; y también significa descarados, sucios, groseros, desvergonzados…valla valla …menudas patadas le pegamos al diccionario, hemos cambiado bastante nuestro sentido de utilizar las palabras. Bueno, no importa, yo también le pego bastantes patadas al diccionario y de hecho incluso me invento mis propias palabras (¡qué cí­nica, jejeje!). Creo que el cinismo se puede utilizar de forma positiva también, a veces es necesario ser un poco cí­nico para evitar problemas o situaciones comprometidas para nuestra vida. Conozco personas que utilizan el cinismo para restarle importancia a las situaciones de la vida y tomárselo todo un poco “a la ligera”, y realmente creo que son felices así­.
    Ayer estuve leyendo en internet criticas sobre Paulo, y algunas cosas me dejaron un poco perpleja: que habí­as practicado la magia negra y que te habí­an sometido a electro-socks ¿ésto es cierto? (no lo recuerdo) pero en todo caso si es cierto, realmente es un milagro que hayas encontrado el camino correcto. Yo siempre tengo mi propia opinión sobre las personas, utilizo un sistema muy sencillo “la simpatí­a y el instinto”. Simplemente hay personas que me resultan simpáticas y eso me basta. El que esté libre de pecado que tire la primera piedra ¿no?…nadie está libre de pecado, todos todos tienen sus “pequeños o grandes pecados” por ahí­ escondidos en algún rincón.
    Bueno, pues ésta es mi opinión.
    Un saludo,

    1. tabi-labkhand says:

      I agree with u.
      And somthing amazing, i envy Hellal in Aleph book !!!!!!!! Because she coult have spent many days with Mr CoelO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. toñi says:


    3. tabi-labkhand says:

      u r welcome Toni

  44. Kilaru Satyanarayana says:

    Cynical persons not only obstructs, they ruin the possibilities of the becomming from the being. Not only doubt arising in the average persons effort but in cynicist presence most of the people are with confusion. Really cynical people have to be get treated by their own effort to avoid the danger for the society by their nature. Their attitude is like a dark could which blankets the real achievers with weaker minds. Rightly said and given a good prescription for the cynics.

  45. Jay says:

    Querido Paulo- Amo la moda de que la fe pasa por la muerte, sobrevive en nosotros. Es algo bendito. Tengo mucho tristeza para la buena gente que ha muerto en este tiempo. Que hay ‘martyr’, y hay otros que estan malditos. Me parece que las palabras de Obama son los de la tumba de Martin Luther King. Tambien la Senora Clinton me ve la alma de Bhenazir Bhutto, regando la gente. Han matado muchos, que Dios se para la matanza.

  46. Rishabh Bhasin says:

    I am not a cynic. But I am a pessimist. Am I in the same boat?

    1. Olta Canka says:

      There is a lot of difference between them. :)

  47. Elaine says:

    Loving this…. So true…It’s the first step on the way to refinement…It’s not easy to discover what you let yourself become and then grapple, grab, and gather together all the courage you have inside your soul to change. But always remember, remember, oh, please remember, that your Father and Mother in Heaven love you and are always there — along with their Angels and Messangers — to help you along the way.

    I read scriptures and religious articles most mornings, then ponder and pray to be able to help others throughout the day. My reading this morning brought some thoughts to light that I feel fit perfectly with this blog post. The author of the following is Jennifer Nuckles.

    LIE: Because of my weaknesses and failings, God is disappointed in, frustrated with, and even angry with me.
    TRUTH: God loves me and rejoices in me because I am His child.

    LIE: I am not as righteous, spiritual, attractive, or as kind as that other person.
    TRUTH: God knows my individual potential and progress intimately. He does not compare or rank me with his other children.

    May you be able to feel your Higher Power’s loving arms surrounding you, (and they are there,) if you will just open yourself to them.


    1. Hi Lainee,

      Just wanted to say, Thank you for sharing this beautiful message:)

    2. Bel mello says:

      E muito simples falta amor na humanidade!