Platitudes as Attitudes

Recently, when I was part of very interesting conversation with a few other women, the topic of platitudes came up and I started thinking about them and how they impact our lives. Think of a platitude as a brief saying which someone embroiders on a sampler and which is supposed to then be mounted as a constant reminder of ways to be or think. It’s a generally dull or trite saying which someone usually utters as if they’re being especially profound and a deep thinker.

I found Scott Berkun’s list of the most annoying platitudes [] which I’ve culled to those I’ve heard throughout my life and added my own comments in brackets. And I’ve added a few more platitudes of my own, again with commentary.

  • There’s no ‘I’ in Team (Reminds me of when I joined a choir and was told that I could not sing with my ‘soloist’s’ voice. Like being a choir member meant that I was not expected to be a good singer.)
  • Good things come to those who wait (What are we waiting for – some sign that it’s our turn?)
  • If it is to be, it must be me (And I get to choose and I need to be sure that I’m choosing for me and not just because someone else won’t step up and get something done.)
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (What about practicing? Sometimes we have to do something many times to get the result we want.)
  • Practice makes perfect. (Uttered by every piano teacher I ever had and Victor Martin in first year violin. And sometimes, no matter how much you practice, you just suck a little less.)
  • Life’s like that (Why? We can’t change something we don’t like? Is predestination the order of the day?)
  • Everything happens for a reason (Does this include famine and war?)
  • It is what it is (And it can never become something else? What about butterflies?)
  • Winners never quit (No, they just win. Choosing to stop one thing and do something else does not mean that you’re a quitter.)
  • Hard work always pays off ( And if I’m working my ass off to accomplish someone else’s goal, then I need to ask myself ‘Why?’ and choose differently.)
  • God never makes mistakes (Then what’s the point of evolution?)
  • Great minds think alike (So how do we explain Hawking and Einstein and Pasteur and so many others?)
  • Money can’t buy happiness (Try living without it in this day and age. And having money sure beats having none.)
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try try again (Maybe you should try something else and, oh yes, you might refer to the platitude about ‘Insanity’.)
  • That’s just my personal opinion (Every opinion is personal and when anyone says this they’re suggesting that theirs is still the ‘right’ opinion.)
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel (Tell Madison Avenue that. How many ways can we re-invent toothpaste?)
  • It’s all good (So we should just accept it and shut up?)
  • What goes up, must come down (Well, duh!)
  • Don’t be sad because it’s over, be glad that it happened (So should be glad I got run over by a car?)
  • We are where we are (And that’s where exactly?)
  • What goes around comes around (Like the rotation of the earth?)
  • What’s done is done (No s–t, Sherlock.)
  • Waste not want not (Aesop anyone? How terribly grasshopper and squirrel.)
  • It has to be somewhere (As if this helps us find something that’s lost. Me and my glasses comes to mind.)
  • Nice guys finish last (So we’re all supposed to be schmucks in order to avoid finishing last?)
  • Go with the flow (Hello, my name is Lemming.)
  • No offense, but… (Then why say it since your intention is really to offend.)
  • We’re all in this together (How High School Musical.)
  • Everything always works out in the end (And if it doesn’t, then what?)
  • Time heals all wounds (Unless they fester and I loose a body part. It can’t heal them all.)
  • We’ll all be laughing about this later (How does that help me now?)
  • Tomorrow is another day (How terribly Scarlett O’Hara. O fiddle-dee-dee!)
  • Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today (Maybe Scarlett should have thought of this.)
  • It could be worse (So I should be happy that it sucks?)
  • You are what you eat (Then I’m ice cream)
  • It’s neither here nor there (So is it somewhere?)
  • Think outside the box (And you end up building a bigger box.)
  • With all due respect (And you don’t respect me so why hedge what you say?)
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions (So is the road to heaven paved with bad intentions?)
  • People regret the things they didn’t do (Not everything – drinking battery acid comes to mind. Just saying.)
  • You can’t judge a book by its cover (Then why do publishers spend so much time creating engaging book covers?)
  • All’s fair in love and war (So I should be a louse and strike first?)
  • All men are created equal (I like to think that, if this is true, then women are definitely superior.)
  • There are plenty more fish in the sea (Not if we keep going the way we are.)
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same (Like the way the world is now is basically how it was a century ago. Sure!)
  • Perception is reality (Except when your perception is very bad – myopia comes to mind)
  • You can be anything that you want to be (I could never be president of the US even if I wanted to be.
  • Patience is a virtue (Why?)
  • I’m sorry if that’s not what you want to hear (No, you’re not.)
  • This will hurt me more than it hurts you (Well, let’s change places and find out if you still think that.)
  • Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it (Pussy Cat Dolls, anyone?)
  • Just think about how much worse other people have it (Like there are people starving in Albania.)
  • Be grateful for what you have (So I should not want to have more or do more or become more?)
  • Choose wisely (Like you never get to change your mind or try something out or choose to do something different?)
  • Life has no do-overs (So, if I fall down when I try to water ski for the first time, I can’t choose to try again?)
  • Don’t do something you’ll later regret (How will you know that you’ll regret it later? Are you expected to be pre-cognitive?)

I’m sure there are more platitudes that I could add to this list. And you can probably add many from your own experience. When I think of these on their own, I always find myself rolling my eyes and coming up with my own comments. Sort of my own personal ‘Yeah, but…’ for each one.

Beyond providing some amusement, I hope that my comments have provoked thought.

Platitudes are a very simplistic way of trying to find answers for the things which happen in our lives. I know that platitudes have been used by others to provide a reason for their actions or words. And I know that I’ve been exposed to so many of these sayings for so long in my life that they have become part of my unconscious beliefs, values, and attitudes. Consider that the platitudes we have absorbed become attitudes which we carry with us as we move through life. And, in the end, they limit us and the scope of our lives. We believe that they are immutable.

I hope that we all take a breath and consciously choose what we will believe in. Platitudes definitely do not have to become our attitudes. In this case, familiarity can breed contempt. It can give rise to our refusal to accept the platitudes in our lives as the attitudes we are expected to adopt and own.



About Authentic Vibrations

My life is about learning and personal growth. I was an educator in the public secondary system for over 33 years. I now work with women, individually and in small groups, using words and music, art and language to help them explore their individaul sense of self in ways with are authentically meaningful for each of them. I also facilitate discussions with educators at all stages of their involvement in the teaching profession to help each of us explore the meaning, value and potential of learning and teaching. It is my belief that, in working individually and in collective, we have the power to transform and evolve. In the power of the collectives which we create together is the power to create culture. As a musician, I believe that the arts have the power to change lives. Certification: CODE Model™ Coach WEL-Systems® Institute Affiliate Education: Ed. D (c) (Applied Psychology – Focus on Teaching) University of Toronto M. Ed (Curriculum Development and Design) Queen’s University (1992) B. Ed (Music, English, Elementary Education) University of Toronto (1976) Mus. Bac. (Music Education) University of Toronto (1975) RCM Grade 4 Harmony, Grade 4 History, Grade 9 Voice, Grade 10 Piano Awards: Life Membership, Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (2009)
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One Response to Platitudes as Attitudes

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