By Judy Berman
A slow, persistent pain began to crawl across my brow and down to my neck.
My friend, Bob, asked if I was OK. I confessed that a friend’s troubles caused me to flash back to a bad experience.
“I have empathy. But too much is not a good thing. If you have a pain, I feel it, too,” I told him.
At this point, Bob began to laugh.
“What if I have hemorrhoids?”
“Well, that would be a pain in the butt,” I said, immediately seeing the humor in the situation.
It’s about working smarter, not harder.
This got me to thinking about the meaningless platitudes we toss around to fill our comfort zone. I pondered about some of the annoying ones I’d like to turn on their ear.
After downsizing at an office I once worked at, the workload was divided among the remaining staffers.
The staff already stretched thin grumble under their breath. The manager walks by, perky and upbeat. To inspire the troops, she says patronizingly: “It’s about working smarter, not harder.”
What she implies is: “If you were smart like me, you’d figure out how to do this.”
She’s not offering any solutions on how to do the work more efficiently. Roll up your sleeves, pitch in and show us how it’s done.
Yeah, if I were smart like you, I’d be working somewhere else.
Everything happens for the best.
This phrase reminds me of Voltaire’s Candide. It’s the byproduct of someone who takes positive thinking too far.
Once Candide is thrown out of the baron’s castle, he leaves his idyllic life behind. Left to fend for himself, he witnesses and experiences great hardships.
Initially, he maintains his positive outlook, despite many worse-case scenarios.
Many, like Candide, believe that we live in “the best of all possible worlds,” no matter how harsh life might be. Their response is to shrug their shoulders and say “everything happens for the best.”
Your house was destroyed by a tornado? Your finances are in a shambles and you plan to live in a cardboard box under a bridge? In no time, some jokester will inevitably say: “At least you have a cardboard box. Everything happens for the best.”
This is not a reassuring statement when someone is reeling from one of life’s blows or dealing with a tragedy. It’d be better to say …
It is what it is
Actually, this is a bad idea, too. When you say “it is what it is,” that implies that you have relinquished all control of your life to the whimsy of fate.
It’s an updated version of “what will be will be.”
It’s time to take charge and dump those meaningless clichés.
Here’s a platitude I can endorse. Hunter S. Thompson, that gonzo journalist, said: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
What irritating platitude gets under your skin?
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Main Photo – Gorilla scratching his head. Taken by Steven Straiton, June 15, 2010. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/08/Gorilla_Scratching_Head.jpg/640px-Gorilla_Scratching_Head.jpg (It is what it is? Work smarter, not harder?)
Photo – accident – indoors (Everything happens for the best.) May 9, 2011 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Indoor_accidents.jpg
Photo – work – accident – (translation) A man is having heart attack at work. The manager says he cannot leave, because if he allows this employee to take a half-day off work for medical reasons, then he will have to let every employee who is having a heart attack to take a half-day off. (I feel your pain.) Owned by: Gaspirtz http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Herzanfall_am_Arbeitsplatz.jpg