Most people like to moan and complain about their low income, but what could be causing it? While you’re chatting about your lack of spare cash, do you ever consider what the reason could be? The truth of the matter is that the problem could lie with… *gasp*… you!
First, let’s go through a few simple questions, shall we? Do you have a general distrust of humanity? When you’re out and about with friends, are you the one always making snide comments and judging what would otherwise be considered people’s good intentions? Do you have a generally bleak outlook on life? Are you moodier than Bernard Black on the best of days? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, I’m afraid we have some pretty bad news for you. Brace yourself.
Cynical people earn less, according to science
If you do happen to be rather cynical about the state of humanity, the economy, and life in general, watch out. According to a new body of research*, that very attitude could be causing you to lose out on a whole load of cash. Yep, the more you doubt the world around you, the less likely you are to be rolling in notes anytime soon.
“While previous research has associated cynicism with detrimental outcomes across a wide range of spheres of life, including physical health, psychological well-being and marital adjustment, the present research has established an association between cynicism and individual economic success,” explains Olga Stavrova, PhD, the lead author of this particular research1.
The research looked at an array of studies from both here in Europe and the US. Each study evaluated how cynical people were and, in turn, compared these results to their average income. In two major questionnaire-based studies, a high level of cynicism was related to having a low income. Plus, in a study looking at the overall impact of cynicism around the globe, this correlation (of cynical people earning less) was strongest in countries with low levels of societal cynicism.
In short, if you live in a country where most people aren’t all that cynical and you walk around full of distrust and doubt, you’re likely to make less cash than other people. Of course, that idea is looking at this in extremely simple terms, but the research does seem to suggest that cynical people have a low level of earning power.
So, why on earth does this happen? Well, Stavrova puts forward one interesting idea. It could be that cynical people are generally less trusting of other people which means that they are less likely to put themselves out there in the workplace.
“For example, employees who believe others to be exploitative and dishonest are likely to avoid collaborative projects and to forgo the related opportunities,” says Stavrova. So, when a work opportunity arises, cynical people may shy away from it, thinking that it’s some kind of trick or maybe just ‘too good to be true’.
What that means is that if you’re a cynical person you’re likely to avoid the things that will actually make you successful and therefore make you more wonga. It’s a dumb move.
7 Ways To Be Less Cynical
Now, it’s all very well acknowledging the fact that your own cynicism is the cause of your low income, but what are you gonna do about it? Well, there are some simple life changes you might just want to make that could change your outlook and generally give you a bright and sunny disposition! No, really… Try some of these:
1. Take up mindfulness
If you’ve yet to hear about mindfulness, where on earth have you been, eh? Basically, this is a meditation technique that will help you to unwind and relax. Because, let’s be honest, one of the main reasons that you’re cynical is likely because you’re stressed out. When you’ve got all the worries of the world on your shoulders, it’s easy to feel as though the entire planet is against you.
Mindfulness helps you to take a quick break from your daily, mundane tasks. By dedicating just ten minutes a day to this activity, you can seriously change the way that you feel about things in general. So, how can you start? Well, you may want to listen to mindfulness podcasts or perhaps even download the Headspace app which will help you along the way.
Download: Headspace App
2. Avoid other cynical people
What was that old saying again, eh? Misery loves company? If all your friends are cynics, you’re likely to be just the same way. It’s all-too-easy to catch this way of thinking and being, but it can be dangerous. If you want to be a generally happier person, you absolutely have to start with your inner circle of friends. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh and smile, not those who bring you down with their idle chit-chat about how awful the world is. Negativity is seriously contagious, which means that you want to put as much distance between yourself and these people as possible.
3. Focus on the good times
Here’s the truth: every single day, a whole host of good and bad things will happen to you. You might get wet on the way to work or miss a deadline. But, you might equally get a compliment from a complete stranger or hear something that makes you laugh on the radio. While all these things could happen, it’s the two former things that you’re most likely to remember. You see, most of us tend to have a nasty little habit of focussing on the bad things that happen to us and completing ignoring the good things. That’s just plain stupid.
To help you to focus on the moments that make you smile throughout the day, it’s worth writing them down. It might sound a little odd, but it really does work. Of course, you can do this in a physical journal or download an app such as Momento where you can store your memories. At the end of the day, look back on all the best things that have happened to you. Soon enough, you will start to see that everything is not quite as bleak as you imagine.
4. Set yourself some life goals
One of the major things that turns people into cynics is the misguided belief that they have no control over their lives. That is a load of rubbish. You are the only person in control of your life, and you always need to remember that. If there’s something that you want to change, you have to get out there and do it. Setting (and reaching) some life goals will certainly help you to feel more positive on a day-to-day basis.
So, where should you start? Well, it’s important that you set goals that you have a hope of actually reaching. Wanting to be a millionaire this time next year is probably a little wishful, unless, of course, your numbers come up. Instead, you need to pin your hopes on small goals that you can work towards. For example, you may want to start saving money on a monthly basis or get that all-important promotion at work.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do, you need to write it down! That makes it real and means that you actually have to try to reach it. You can also set out mini-goals that will help you achieve your main ones. Good luck.
5. Try to be a realist
There’s no denying the fact that some things in life suck. We can’t pretend that we all live in a world where everyone gets just what they want. That would be, frankly, a little insane. While it’s fine to have a little moan now and then, you must not let it become a habit. When you start to complain as a reflex, it becomes an integral part of your personality. Cut. It. Out!
Whenever you start to be cynical, give yourself a reality check! Are things really as bad as you’re making out? Are you just saying (or thinking) this for dramatic effect? Do you honestly believe it? If you want to stop being cynical, you don’t have to change the world, you just have to change the way you think about it.
6. Be kind to the people around you (duh!)
If you’re kind to the people around you, it’s hard to be cynical. Most of the time, cynical people think that everyone in the world is bad, and yet they do nothing to change that. Um… What?! When it comes down to it, you need to be the one to reach out to people. You won’t believe the response you get when you start going out of your way to be kind to others for no specific reason.
Now, you don’t have to spend all your cash, buying people coffee or meals. Oh no. These acts of kindness can be as small and simple as holding the door open for someone else or taking the time to ask someone how they really are. When you start thinking about other’s needs (rather than just moaning about your own), you will see that your outlook on life starts to seriously shift!
7. Quit making snap decisions
When you make a snap decision or judgement, it’s always most likely to be a negative one. The fact of the matter is that we’re always in such a rush to get our opinions out there that we often fail to stop and think about how negative they are. You may be so very used to being against things that this reaction is more of a reflex than anything else.
If you want to be less cynical, it’s worth taking a breather before you make a decision or give an opinion on something. When someone tells you something (at work, for example), take at least 30 seconds to think about what you want to say about it. Weigh up the good and bad points about it before you give a rounded opinion. Forcing yourself to do so will mean that you avoid just saying something negative for the hell of it.