I experienced a convergence through a few communications that came my way today.

Communication the First

The first was a newsletter in my inbox this morning from Bock’s Office

Masthead of Bock's Office "inspiration" newsletter

… with a lead piece about skepticism and cynicism. (It’s pasted below, following this post.) Jodee Bock does a great job, as usual, of talking about the difference between the two, how one can be a virtue and the other is a negative outlook, and about opening our minds, hearts and souls to positivity.

Skepticism is “a healthy way to be open yet guarded,” while cynicism is “…a deep-seated negative belief where we doubt others’ intentions and motives,” she said.

“Suffice it to say that there is more to every situation than meets the immediate eye. If you can allow yourself to be open to possibilities without being jaded or cynical, you might be able to see some higher wisdom at play in your discernment. It is certainly a practice, but if you’re up for it, you will see the results!”

Papa Preached It

The post made me think of my father who, for most of my life, evangelized the power of positivity. “Think positive,” he’d say after I made a negative or disparaging comment about someone or something, or when I wasn’t able to accomplish a goal right away.

“Yeah, yeah. OK, Dad. Whatever,” I used to say dismissively.

You know how this story goes.

Over the years, beginning even before Dad died at too young an age, I slowly took heed. I started trying to look at the bright side, to find something good in, around or related to all things bad. I came to realize, as my father did so clearly, that downplaying the negative and up-playing the positive can have a tremendous impact on your life and the lives of those you care about.

I’ve had a few decades of practice now, but I still don’t have it down. My mind often goes to the dark side first, and I have to force myself to take a breath, think it through again – whatever “it” happens to be – or let it lie until later.

But I know this:  even if it’s hard to find the good, when you do it’s easier to move on with life without unnecessary anxiety or dislike or hate or the feeling of having been mistreated or whatever state or emotion affects you when you let the bad rule.

Don’t give the negative power, and it will cease to have power over you.

That’s how Dad saw it. Every hour of every day, I try to see it that way, too.

Communication the Second

I check Facebook a couple of times a day, just to see if there’s any activity on my business page that needs attention.

On my personal timeline was this video, posted by Freestyle Ultimate Battle and shared by one of my FB friends –

Screen shot of Melody Donchet

Melody Donchet, three-time freestyle world champion, juggles on a moving subway.

My comment:  “This. Is. Awesome.”

I shared the video.

Communication the Third

A little later there were a couple of comments on the repost:

Person 1:  My son has to see this.

Person 2:  She lays on the dirty floor for this. Gross.


My response:  Seriously, Person 2? This person has incredible talent and is doing amazing things, and all you can see is the dirty floor?

I mean… just… WOW.

And not in a positive way.

Person 2’s comment wasn’t an example of skepticism or cynicism, but it was most definitely a textbook example of someone who’s closed to the possibilities and refusing to see not just the good, but the absolutely ASTOUNDING in the world.

I feel sorry for Person 2.

I mean, even if they’re not into soccer or sports or crazy amazing shit someone can do on a subway/elevated train, you have to look at what that soccer ball juggler and go, “WOW!” in the most positive, psyched-up, blown-away way. So, yeah, I have some sympathy for Person 2, who either didn’t see the WOW or has forgotten how to see it.

Life must be a huge drag when all you see is dirty floors.


Here’s where it comes together.

While I feel sorry for Person 2, I’m also thankful to them. Why?

<here comes the positive>

Today’s convergence has been a great reminder to stop and smell the flowers, express wonder at the wonderful, be thankful for the awesomeness of the awesome people in my life, be open to possibilities, and, most of all, to…

Think positive. Always.

Cynical or Skeptical?

by Jodee Bock

I admit it here. I think I’m getting cynical. Cynicism is a deep-seated negative belief where we doubt others’ intentions and motives. I hate even admitting that I might be slipping into that as it relates to online marketing, but with the recent subscribers I’ve been picking up for this newsletter who have .ru email addresses, I begin to wonder.

Notice what you notice.

I want to believe everyone is doing the best they can with what they know. I really do. I’m conditioning myself to take on the three-word mantra: “ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT” and I’m diligent about that mindset.

Yet I wonder if there is any danger in holding onto that belief when there appear to be people in the world who are looking to prey on positivity the way zombies feed on brains. (OK, that was a really weak metaphor, but you get the idea.)

When does skepticism – which I believe is a healthy way to be open yet guarded – get overcome by cynicism? And should it? Should we be more closed off to new information when it really is there to prey on our good intentions?

Now is the perfect time for building our discernment muscles.

According to WikipediaDiscernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well (or the activity of so doing). In the case of judgment, discernment can be psychological or moral in nature. Within judgment, discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced judgments about its properties or qualities. Considered as a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.

Wow. There’s a lot to unpack in that definition.

Suffice it to say that there is more to every situation than meets the immediate eye. If you can allow yourself to be open to possibilities without being jaded or cynical, you might be able to see some higher wisdom at play in your discernment. It is certainly a practice, but if you’re up for it, you will see the results!

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger (https://ivwords.com) nonprofit founder (https://theclimateknights.org/) and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


Let me know what you think!

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