October 26, 2021

Don't sweat the platitudes... and they're all platitudes

I need to have a chat with you about platitudes.

"Don't sweat the small stuff... and it's all small stuff."

Who decides what's small in YOUR life? What might seem small to someone else might seem huge to you. It is certainly NOT all small stuff.

Or "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."

What doesn't kill you can often make you sicker, weaker, or otherwise impaired (hello long-haul COVID). Not everyone comes away stronger from adversity.

How about "Good things take time?" I saw that on a greeting card at Trader Joe's and picked it up because I liked the phrase and the colors, and I thought it related well to something I wanted to teach about speaking.

But you know what? Sometimes good things take practically NO time! I mean, a quick summer salad of ripe tomatoes, fresh burrata cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil takes about five minutes, but it's delicious.

Sometimes a work of art or a book takes years to complete. Other times, the creativity just flows and the work is finished in weeks.

So how long are you willing to wait for that "good thing?" How long is TOO long?

And therein lies one issue with platitudes. Not only are they trite, shallow, and unoriginal, but they're not even true. Or maybe true some of the time but not enough of the time.

On top of that, platitudes can make us feel like we're not doing life right.

Like "I know it's all small stuff, so why can't I move on?"

Or "I know I should live and let live, but how can I turn a blind eye to injustice and oppression?"

Or "I know they say it will all be worth it in the end, but I'm not sure I can go on like this."

Nathan J. Robinson says, "If we accept suffering, for example, as natural and inevitable, then it is easier to be comfortable with the existence of large amounts of it. If it simply 'is what it is,' then getting enraged by it is futile and irrational. But to me, that’s monstrous.

We have to examine things critically rather than passively accepting tautological justifications for them. To do otherwise is to be both morally and intellectually lazy."

Robinson also points out that some platitudes ARE true and also profound, like "Be the change you wish to see in the world." That's a worthy goal, to be sure.

If you're going to be on stage (or use social media as a platform for your cause or message) at least share your own ideas, as much as any of our ideas can be new again.

There are absolutely fresh ways to express timeless ideas that keep you from melting into the masses posting tired cliches.

Do we really need someone to tell us AGAIN: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care???"

Raise your hand if you roll your eyes 39 times a day at motivational platitudes. 🙋🏻‍♀️🙄

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