#2. "The Only Person You Can Truly Trust Is Yourself!"
Cynicism has to run both ways. But when you hear advice that seems to always presume the worst about people, it's easy to automatically assume that it's true. Here's somebody who's been around the block -- he knows how the world works (and it works by everyone screwing each other over, all the time).
But in reality, this is passive-aggressive bullshit that's almost always slung by people who love to paint themselves as victims. They've been burned a few times, so they pass off this "Everyone is out to fuck you" load as a hard lesson we all must eventually learn. It's not. It's their way of saying "Life is really hard, and all of my problems are completely out of my control. I cannot be held accountable for my current situation because it is a product of the corrupt state of the world itself."
Yes, it's probably a good idea to be critical of other peoples' motives, and it's always smart to keep your eyes open for potential scams. But basing your life on the idea that you're the only trustworthy person on the entire planet is not only stupid, it's dangerous. Not to mention one of the most egotistical frames of mind imaginable.
"Finally. Perfect company."
A Better Alternative:
"Some people are bad. Know how to spot them."
The entire point of making friends and being social is to weed out the assholes and emotionally connect with the ones who are actually good for you. It's the same reason we look for romantic connections. Not so that you have a place to rub your genitals or to fulfill your biological obligation to make more people animals, but so you can go through life with a partner who will let you borrow their scuba gear when the room starts filling up with liquid shit.
"Know what, just go ahead and throw that stuff away when you're done with it."
We are designed to go through life in small groups, and forming those groups requires that we trust at least a select few people. You absolutely cannot let yourself get into the mindset that everyone else in existence is in on one huge game of "See who can fuck you the most creatively." How egocentric is that? It is, in effect, saying that you are the only morally sound person on the planet. Add in a few hallucinations, and you're virtually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
That doesn't mean that you have to enter a room with rainbows shooting out of your asshole. Nor does it mean that you have to put on a blindfold and fall backward into every relationship to see if they catch you. There are indeed plenty of dickwads out there who will try to take advantage of you at the drop of a hat. But it also doesn't mean that you have to approach every person in the same manner as you'd approach a rattlesnake.
Dude, what the hell? I just said "Hello."
That's for people looking to avoid the hard work of opening themselves up and building connections to others. They're not being cynics. They're being lazy.
#1. "Seize the Moment! Live Each Day as if It Were Your Last!"
This is such a flowery, idealistic thing to recommend, but it's about as realistic as trying to "love all of your fellow humans equally" while reading a political debate on Facebook. It may sound like I'm nit-picking, but the wording really does matter quite a bit here. If I truly lived today as if it were my last, the first thing I'd do is clean out my bank account and buy all the cool stuff I've always wanted but could never justify because spending that money means I'm fucked if an emergency pops up. The second thing I'd do is find my childhood bully and beat him until his legs bent like a flamingo's.
And why not? Living like there's no tomorrow is living without consequences. Tomorrow doesn't exist. A comet could slam into the Earth while I'm in bed tonight, and it would all be over. So why not live as if that were literally going to happen? Can you imagine a world where hormonal teenagers walked up to you nonstop to blatantly ask for sex? If there's no tomorrow, there's no time for the whole game of getting to know someone and taking them on a date. You just start asking people until someone says yes. Hate your job? Fuck it -- quit and give everyone the finger on your way out the door. You don't have time to waste on things that make you unhappy, even if it's the only thing standing between you and homelessness. You have to live in "the now," and you won't lose your apartment until the end of the month.
"Leave me alone -- I'm sleeping in the moment."
A Better Alternative:
"Make today count."
It's about doing something productive with today so that tomorrow you can look back on it and be proud. So that the days following it will be even better. It's about growth, and you can't grow if you're picturing this moment to be the only one in existence. Some of what you do right now is purely to set your future self up for an easier life. The less you plan for that, the harder it's going to be when you realize that the comet never came, and you spent all of your time, money and energy enjoying the seconds instead of the lifetime.
"I rode the shit out of this horse in my early 20s. I regret nothing."
There is absolutely something to be said about enjoying the moment, don't get me wrong. You can't spend all of your time preparing for the future, or you'll look back on your life and regret how you lived it. But there are people who do spend all of their time living in the moment ... they're called children. And there's a reason they have to have other people take care of them.
For more Cheese, check out 7 Terrible Life Lessons Learned from 'The Neverending Story' and 5 Ways to Avoid Your Terrible Parents' Mistakes.