5 Famous Wise Sayings That Are Complete Nonsense

We all have someone in our lives who just loves to quote famous people to strengthen some dumbass argument, even if it does the opposite to your tolerance levels. And, for the most part, it works, because quoting Hawking makes you sound like you read (and understand) Hawking. But there are a bunch of seemingly wise sayings that are supposed to be profound and have great meaning in our day-to-day lives, but are -- and you might want to sit down for this revelation -- dumb. For instance ...

#5. "Dream As If You'll Live Forever. Live As If You'll Die Today." -James Dean

Warner Bros.

Why It's Supposed To Be Inspiring:

Carpe yourself some motherfucking diem (or noctem, if you're on the night shift). Seize the day, ask for a ransom, then take the money and kill it anyway. It's all about taking every opportunity that comes your way, not being afraid to make mistakes or worrying about the future. You'll find it on the walls of pretty much every dorm room from here to Madagascar, because it inspires the youth to aspire, goddammit!

Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
"Oh, look! Another opportunity."

That's a nice thought, though, right? If you spend all of your time worrying about the future, you're never going to be able to appreciate what's happening today. You'll end up with a bleeding ulcer by the time you're 40. If we've learned anything from Hollywood, it's that the grumpy old executive is only grumpy because he spent his entire life burying his inner child in a shallow hole.

Why It's Actually Dumb:

It's fine for about a week. After that, it becomes absolutely exhausting. Of course, this is from the rebel without a cause whose biography was called Live Fast, Die Young, because he actually did that shit. So perhaps you should get your inspiration from someone with a bit more longevity than a 24-year-old whose philosophy put him in a grave. If all of society followed this way of thinking, we'd be living in The Purge.

Universal
Spoiler: You would not be this guy. Your ass wouldn't even make it past
the opening credits of the first movie.

If you expect to die today, then tomorrow is an abstract concept that might as well exist in another dimension. Of course, statistically speaking, you probably won't die today, so where does that leave you when tomorrow dick slaps you awake and says, "You have no money in your retirement fund; 65-year-old you is going to be pissed when you look back on old bungee-jumping receipts instead of a fat-ass bank account."

Dougal Waters/DigitalVision/Getty Images
"I bet Pierce Brosnan never has to put up with this bullshit."

You don't have to give up all of your dumb, childish shit, but if you don't weave The Future into your daily plans, you're screwing yourself in some pretty massive ways. "Dream as if you'll live forever" is gibberish nonsense. Knowing that you have an expiration date should serve as motivation to become something special, because you don't have long to do that. You are going to die. Plan accordingly.

#4. "You Miss 100 Percent Of The Shots You Don't Take." -Wayne Gretzky

Hakan Dahlstrom/Wiki Commons

Why It's Supposed To Be Inspiring:

One of the all-time greats gives you an excuse to go out and fuck up as much as necessary to become successful? Count me in. Ambition and success go hand in hand, and making mistakes is a big part of reaching the upper levels of damn near any job. The message here is clear: Always keep trying and never give up, because you cannot succeed if you don't even try!

It's super quotable -- it's a poster on the wall of every "sporty" CEO, because it makes them look more like an actual human for their employees, as well as promoting that "go get 'em" attitude that every corporate cheerleader chants.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Admit it, you were picturing Rob Lowe too.

Why It's Actually Dumb:

Far be it from me to criticize a guy who scored from behind the net like a goddamn hockey ninja, but this quote is dumb, even from a sports perspective.

First, it forgets that Gretzky was part of a team. If he's taking every opportunity to shoot that comes his way, that means he's denying a teammate who may be in a better position to score. Playing by the philosophy that it's better to have a go than not, because I definitely won't score if I don't shoot, may sound inspiring to a businessman, but it will damn near guarantee a loss. Every team sport is mastering the art of "setup, setup, setup, SCORE!" Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan all knew that in order to create opportunities for them to score, they had to pass the damn ball. Pitchers don't throw strikes 100 percent of the time, because if the batter knows it's coming, he's putting it over the wall. And batters don't swing at every pitch, because ... well, that's stupid. It's why football players don't just chuck the ball into the endzone on every play: The other team will just put defenders deep downfield.

Electronic Arts
And this is why you suck at Madden.

Taking every shot is the fastest way to get fired from a team, and it's the same in business. For the average person who, on average, works as an average member of an average team, throwing ideas around without worrying about the consequences because "Eventually I'm bound to get it right, and it'd be worse not to try" is not going to keep the team together. Or pay the mortgage, for that matter. Successful people don't take every shot. They take every smart shot.

Of course there are times when it's better to roll the dice than just sucking your thumb in the corner while curled up in the fetal position (something my wife now regrets), but it's not always the case. The old adage that "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" loses sight of the fact that not stepping up to the plate is sometimes the worthier thing to do. Just because I haven't run for president doesn't mean I've failed to become president.

And here's the kicker: Failing huge is sometimes far worse than not trying at all. That may sound defeatist, but just consider those who have crashed and burned, like this poor bastard who invested his life savings in stock, only to lose every dime he had. Or the 70 percent of investors who lost money in 2015. If they could go back in time, would they still take the shot? Or would they hold out for a safer one?

#3. "It Does Not Matter How Slowly You Go, So Long As You Do Not Stop." -Confucius

M. Humblot

Why It's Supposed To Be Inspiring:

Aesop has a version of this too: "Slow and steady wins the race." The point is that trying is more important than how quickly you do it. Never mind the fact that the hare would have owned that tortoise in reality, the point is that as long as you keep moving forward, it doesn't matter how fast you're going. In fact, according to the stories, going fast is actually a detriment -- it causes you to become sloppy and arrogant.

This is a great quote for those who have been trying to write that novel for the last decade and are still not sure what happens on page 20. Take your time. Keep your eyes on the prize. And whatever you do, don't be a rabbit, because rabbits are condescending assholes.

SusanHarris/RooM/Getty Images
Piece a' shit.

Why It's Actually Dumb:

This quote may have been fine in Zhou Dynasty China, but in the modern world it is no longer applicable. The 21st century demands a pace of life that would have made Confucius eat his words. Quickly.

In today's world, we have to be alive, awake, and alert almost all the time. The level of competition for every job is way beyond anything that has ever existed in history. And even if you're lucky enough to have a good job, you're still rushing to fill that retirement bubble so you're not toothlessly sucking balls for ramen noodles at age 70.

Top Ramen
"Top Ramen? What am I, made of money!?"

Our parents' generation got away with four years at college to fall into a lifetime gig at one company. But the world has since changed: I (Matt Cowan, who wrote half of this article) have two degrees, write for Cracked on top of two other jobs, and I still find myself rushing to make ends meet. Slowing down for even a second could put my ass in a cardboard box like my landlord was Amazon.

Amazon
Stop smiling, you son of a bitch!

We're living in an age where everyone has to be "GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!" We have far too many 40-year-olds living at home while they work on creating their video game that they think is going to make it big ... or trying to land a job that actually makes use of the degree that they spent tens of thousands of dollars to get. In today's world, we have to start working as early as possible, as fast as possible, because our future selves depend on it.

dumfstar/iStock/Getty Images
Even this kid is late to the game.

Yeah, I just called Confucius an idiot. I'm hardcore, son.

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