Words We Should(n’t) Live By
Clichés are so popular in America that there’s hardly a day you don’t say or hear one. I read hundreds of clichés in preparing this post and their value is apparent.
Used to validate, encourage, dismiss, or explain behavior, clichés are catchy language crutches that justify intention.
We need them. Their overuse is useful. Everyone knows what we mean without explanation. Listeners accept our word jingle as a condensed proclamation of our current state of affairs.
But watch out. Some clichés can be dicey.
Open for misinterpretation or used in the wrong context, acting on one could catapult you into bankruptcy or ruin a relationship. We are most prone to their misuse when taking risks. “That which does not kill you makes you stronger”– right? If you miss the mark on that one….well…no second chance:)!
Try challenging your friend who’s justified her actions with “All’s fair in love and war.” Like a sacred family tradition, mess with tried and true clichés and you’ll ruffle some feathers.
Here are a few clichés that deserve a YIELD sign when spoken. They can all be interpreted in a positive light. Or they can lead us on a detour we never intended.
“Everything in moderation”
If we eat everything we want in moderation we’re going to have a crappy diet. Healthy eating requires an intention to choose healthy foods regularly. This is the worst dieting cliché ever! Rather, may I suggest “Eat a sweet treat in moderation occasionally.”
I’m not advocating obsessiveness or a complete lack of flexibility. But if we do everything in moderation we’re not going to be good at anything. This cliché gives us an excuse to go half throttle. In contrast, “leave no stone unturned” requires intensity, focus and perseverance which may be our ticket to a breakthrough.
“Live your dreams” “Take a Leap of faith”
I’m guessing these clichés have ruined more lives than they’ve made dreams come true.
Pursuing our passions enriches our lives. Yet there’s more to life than our individual dreams. We should consider who will be impacted by our choices.
The timing of our decisions can be as important as the decisions themselves. A giant leap may be in store or maybe just a baby step. Impatience is leaping without adequate preparation.
Careful evaluation is not cowardliness, it can mean the difference between happiness and despair.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Believe this and we’d be justified to jump off a cliff. Fear is useful and protective. We should acknowledge our fear and work through it sensibly. Too many clichés throw caution to the wind (cliché intended:). Fear is an innate form of instinct. Use it to guide us toward good decisions.
We push past our fear with courage. Courage is not dismissing fear. It’s acting despite our fear knowing the risks associated with doing so. Not the denial of risk.
“Money is the root of all evil.” “Money doesn’t buy happiness.”
If we don’t have any, it might make us feel better if we think we’re avoiding the devil. Greed and corruption are the problem, not money. Money doesn’t guarantee happiness but it does put a roof over our head, food in our tummy, and clothes on our back. So I’d say money isn’t evil. On the contrary, it’s a blessing.
“Two heads are better than one.” “Misery loves company.”
For brainstorming sessions, the more ideas the better. To get things done, constant corroboration can lead to a tug-of-war where nothing gets accomplished. “Search all your parks and all your cities and you’ll find no statues of committees!” See my Sid’s Sense series post, The Top Dog, where I elaborate on taking initiative as an individual.
There’s comfort in having company as long as we don’t get stuck physically or emotionally because we’re glued to others.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I try and live by this Golden Rule, however, there are exceptions.
The greatest gift we can give others is to give them what they need, not necessarily what we need. I once gave a friend advice she wasn’t ready to hear. I told her exactly what I would have wanted someone to tell me but that didn’t make it the right decision for her.
I dislike unsolicited sales. Yet there are times it is necessary for me to sell to others unsolicited in order to help our business grow. Sometimes we have to think outside ourselves to achieve the best outcome.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Sometimes we have to deal with the small stuff early on so it doesn’t become big stuff. Pushing junk under the bed doesn’t make it go away. It might be better to put it in its place now.
This cliché can promote procrastination. We all know how a clean basement can become cluttered in no time. Or how a small grudge can turn into a full blown fight. We each have to define our “small stuff” because if we aren’t going to sweat it, it better not make us hot under the collar for long.
“Actions speak louder than words.”
Words are powerful. They inspire action, ignite fury, and promote peace. With the impact of social media today, words have become weapons. They can ruin campaigns or sell products. They can heal emotional wounds or cause them.
There are a few clichés that ring true no matter when or where I hear them.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
To reach our goals we have to be willing to take a step in that direction.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
We all see things through our own eyes, filters, and frames of reference (our past). See post, Control Over Your Sixth Sense.
“There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
There is always hope.
“The more we learn, the less we know.”
Curiosity sparks endless learning.
“The devil is in the details.”
If we don’t get specific, we don’t even know what we’re talking about. (See post Let’s Make a Deal: The Empowered Negotiator)
There’s no time like the present to go out and seize the day and if life gives you lemons, make lemonade because after all, all’s well that ends well. Just don’t push your luck. On second thought, go for it!