4 Life-Sucking Sayings to Avoid Like the Plague

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funny guy thumb 4 Life Sucking Sayings to Avoid Like the PlagueGuest post by Ken Wert.

There are sayings that inspire and instruct (“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”). They have permeated the culture, becoming accepted cultural expressions of truth. They are taken at face value, assumed to be packed with the wisdom of the ages.

But some sayings that we unthinkingly accept as true can undermine our hopes for a fulfilling life of growth and opportunity and joy.

The Darker Side of Popular Sayings

Following are 4 such sayings most of which you will likely have heard and may have used, perhaps recently. I hope after reading, you will reconsider their wisdom.

# 1. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

The Meaning: If you’re in your Golden Years, you’re simply stuck in the cement of your ways. There’s no changing now. The twilight of your life has left you no time to travel new roads to new destinations even if change waspossible.

The Truth:The past is never the unalterable genetic coding of the future. You are not inseparably tied to who you’ve always been. Age is not a locked door to opportunity, to growth, to discovery, to adventure, to learning new ideas, new methods, new habits, to creating a new life.

The Challenge: Never believe the lie! Never settle for a life you don’t want no matter how late the season is. It may take longer to learn new tricks for some of you, but keep learning them anyway. Create something better. Enjoy whatever amount of life is left with greater enthusiasm and meaning, creativity and joy. Stretch your mind. Keep it young with activity. Reduce mind-numbing activities and exercise that brain in your head like the muscle it is. Yank it off the couch and get it on the proverbial treadmill! Learn and keep on learning! Grow and keep on growing!

#2. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”

The Meaning: Like father, like son (or mother like daughter). Who your parents are is a mirror to who you will become. Your fathers’ character stains yours with the particular colors of his virtue … or lack thereof.

The Truth:We all have the ability to evaluate our own upbringing and the lives our parents led and change course and walk down very different spiritual, moral, emotional or ideological paths. While we will still likely display tendencies identifiable as coming from our parents, tendencies are just that: tendencies. They are dispositions and inclinations and no more.

The Challenge: We can all choose a path other than the one we are inclined toward. In other words, there is no genetic determinism at work here. So stay away from the language that produces what in reality doesn’t exist! Choose the life you want. Choose the person you want to be. Sculpt that life by virtue of the daily decisions you make.

#3. “One in the hand’s worth more than two in the bush”

The Meaning:Don’t go chasing your dreams. Accept reality. It’s too risky to leave a good job in search of bigger rewards and greater possibilities. If you go grabbing after more, you may fall short and lose what you already have to begin with.

The Truth:If you hold on to the one too tightly, never taking steps to get at the two, the two will forever remain in the bush. Likewise, if you get the two and hold to them too tightly, you’ll never step away to get at the 4 perched in the tree. And if the 4 are held too jealously, the 10 or 20 on the mountain top will forever be available to someone else more willing to take the risks for a better life!

The Challenge: Improving life requires risk. All successful people are risk-takers to one degree or another. Those at the end of life regret those things they never attempted much more than those things they tried and failed to accomplish. Take calculated risks necessary to grow and improve and challenge yourself regularly, even if the initial push is only in baby steps.

#4. “All’s well that ends well”

The Meaning:The ends justify the means. The method to get to the finish line is less important than that the finish line was crossed. If the result is good, the questionable processes used are justified.

The Truth: History is filled with those who have created amazing professional and political and financial ends. Political power, the accouterments of wealth, prestige and fame were achieved. But such a price they often paid in broken promises, broken bridges, broken vows, broken character, broken trust, broken health and broken families. Such are hardly means worth the ends no matter how grand they appear at first.

The Challenge: Pay attention to the goals (ends) you desire in life. Choose them wisely. Then plot a course (means) that is honorable and in line with your deepest values. Deviate on tactic as needed, but never on moral standard or principle. Remember, you have to live with the person you become in the process of pursuing your goals too.

Final Thoughts

The words and phrases we use not only reflect our thinking, they help shape that thinking as well.

Such sayings culturally repeated over and over again, used by us from time to time, at first as a sort of joke, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, starts to sink into our hearts as an un-thought-through tacit acceptance of an idea that can be as poison to our self-concept.

It can then deliver its deadly blow as words convey ideas that sink into unguarded hearts, redefining who we think we can be.

Avoid such thoughts like the plague. Reject them. Never use them. Politely object when others do. Don’t allow your children to use them. Don’t allow the poison of such false notions to sicken the body of your beautiful and limitless soul.

About the Author: Ken Wert is the creator of Meant to be Happy, dedicated to teaching principles of happiness and unlocking human potential as we discover more joy in life one day at a time. Ken is a high school teacher and the father of two. He is passionate about living a life of purpose, character and joy, and sharing his thoughts and inspiration on his blog at http://www.meanttobehappy.com

Photo: Copyright PhotoXpress.com

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11 thoughts on “4 Life-Sucking Sayings to Avoid Like the Plague

  1. Napoleon Hill proved that most success came after the age of 40, usually 50. This means that those old dogs were the most successful, just like you say, the first saying isn’t true.

    When I read “One in the hand’s worth more than two in the bush” I always see the short term thinking at work.
    You can either work long term and build a sustainable business or you go for the quick buck, in my belief 2 in the bush are worth more.

    • Thanks for commenting Daniel.

      Good point about Napoleon Hill’s observation of success. I’m hoping us 40 somethings aren’t quite considered “old dogs” yet, but you’re right about earning power being much higher later in life than earlier.

      And I like your insight on the short-sighted nature of grabbing the one instead of going after the two in the bush. I guess some people are just so paralyzed by the fear of what they imagine MIGHT happen that they never step away to go after larger goals and dreams and thereby trap themselves into a life that could have been more.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Daniel!

  2. Pingback: 4 Popular Saying that that Suck Life Dry | Meant to be Happy

  3. Good on you Ken & Hi to Jeff,
    There are so many sayings handed down through the generations. I can still “hear” my grandparents uttering these when I was a youngster. I enjoyed the ‘breakdown’ of each saying which made it easier to understand & ‘refute’. Especially No1, I will be 57 near Christmas & the last few years have been my biggest learning curve…..and still heaps to go.
    be good to yourself

    • That’s awesome, David! Life is just so deeply filled with opportunity to learn and grow. It saddens me when people just stop. I’m a teacher and have to admit the malady certainly is not isolated to the elderly. I have more than a few students who just don’t care to think very much or try very hard to learn. So little curiosity behind glassy eyes.

      But life has so much to offer and so many people on both ends of the age spectrum choose to sit in front of the TV and watch others pretend to live out exciting lives instead. The saddest thing is that the brain works much like a muscle does. Just as unused muscles atrophy, brains do too.

      It’s good to meet a fellow enthusiast for personal growth. Keep on learning!

      Thanks for sharing, David!

    • Ken, I appreciate the great article. It is so easy to fall into “group think” on these old sayings. Ghandi said, “Our thoughts become our words. Our words become our actions. Our actions become our habits.” We need to make sure that what we say is what we really mean. Thanks for the reminder on this!

  4. this was great. so comical that these are phrases spoken everyday and yet people may not even realize their true meanings. My personal favorite is Alls Well That Ends Well. So true that you have to live with the person you have become when you are pursuing your goals. thanks for the post, personal growth is a great thing and you covered it well!

    • Thank you so much, Lauren! It’s true, it is kinda funny that we walk around using these phrases all the time without really thinking much about what they really mean played out in real life. But once you do, they can be dangerous to personal growth, at least the way I’ve interpreted them. But here’s the thing: they are commonly interpreted that way and used to excuse self-defeating behavior.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here at Jeff’s blog, Lauren!

      Have an amazing day!

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