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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 ...

"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.

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.

"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?

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"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.

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.

"We Must Let Go Of The Life We Have Planned, So As To Accept The One That Is Waiting For Us." -Joseph Campbell

Folkstory/Wiki Commons

Why It's Supposed To Be Inspiring:

This is somewhat similar to James Dean's quote about living for today, only with a slight twist. It's not necessarily "You could die tomorrow in a freak dildo explosion, so live as if this was your last day"; it's more along the lines of "Life never works out the way you plan, so stop worrying so damn much."

James Hardy/PhotoAlto Agency RF/Getty
"But maybe quit your job at the dildo factory, if it's keeping you up at night."

That makes sense. You plan on your car working for at least 100,000 miles, but when the transmission goes out at 80,000, your whole world crumbles. How are you going to afford a new one? How are you going to get back and forth to work while it's being fixed? This wasn't in the plans at all! Or in a more general sense, you may have planned your entire life around being a successful game designer, but you ended up as the person who brings those people their coffee. You spent so much time planning your perfect future that you don't know how to handle the one you actually got.

AlexMax/iStock/Getty Images
Literally, in the case of dildo manufacturing.

Why It's Actually Dumb:

First of all, making plans is the bedrock of our society and economy. Most of us don't do the stuff we went to college for, but that doesn't mean that we should have just stayed at home, waiting for our destinies to fall into our laps. Mostly because we cannot possibly know in advance what's waiting for us. Life is not just about handling what comes at you. Plans are important.

Campbell's quote suggests that our role is not active but one of blind passivity, of acceptance. "The universe knows what's best for you, so stop squirming and just do what it wants." If we all took this to heart, nothing would get done. We'd all be waiting for things to happen to us instead of making them happen.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
"Yep, any day now I'll get that call for a six-figure job."

This philosophy has become so ingrained into popular culture that almost every movie and TV show makes fun of the guy who meticulously plans his whole life out, because that's too stiff and adult and boring. They tell you, instead, to slow down and just let life happen at its own pace. "It's OK," they say, "just accept what Fate/Destiny/Karma has in store for you and you'll do just dandy. You'll get the dream job and the girl."

Rubberball/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
"... or not."

But that's terribly stupid advice. The solution to hiccups in people's plans isn't to abandon the idea of planning altogether. Even poker players know that the game isn't blind luck. You make a plan, based on what you were dealt, and then adjust your betting accordingly.

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"We Do Not Live To Eat And Make Money. We Eat And Make Money To Be Able To Live." -George Mallory

Wiki Commons

Why It's Supposed To Be Inspiring:

George Mallory, for those who aren't into the history of gigantic rocks, is the guy who looked at Mount Everest and said, "Fuck it. Why not?" The associated quote is one that awesomely sums up why he did it. He stopped letting that 9-to-5 life dictate who he was, and instead used his job as a tool to support his real passions. That's admirable. It's a goal and perspective we should all be aspiring to achieve.

George Mallory
Maybe skip the whole dying while doing it part.

That shift in perspective is what he's going for. He's not telling you to quit your job and go hang off of cliffs for fun, so please don't go into work tomorrow sans pants, shit on your boss' desk, and then skip off to buy a surfboard. He's saying that work is a thing that you do to support your life. It's a means to acquiring the fun shit.

Why It's Actually Dumb:

This seems like a good idea on paper, but it makes little sense if you actually stop to think about it, because it completely shits on any kind of career path you may take and doesn't take into account the fact that many people (don't tell anyone I told you this) actually like what they do. Oh, and don't even get me started on food. Some days, I can tell you, I definitely live to eat. I'm a goddamn walking Cathy comic.

Cathy Guisewite/Universal Uclick
I may or may not own this exact leotard.

Don't get me wrong; there is an important point here about ambition and perspective that shouldn't be overlooked. But when a philosophy like this is built on the foundation that everyone hates their job and only does it because they have to, it's telling perfectly satisfied people that they're wrong. It's telling them that the most satisfying aspects of life cannot be found in the workplace. All of that stuff happens after you clock out. Even functional alcoholics wait until they get off work before starting a good butt-chugging session.

Party Bong/Amazon
"It's Miller-ass time."

The spirit of the quote can still work, but it needs to be adjusted for a modern audience. It's much more realistic to tell our kids to find something they truly enjoy doing, something they'd do for free, and then find a way to get paid for it. Because at that point, you're doing both: You're living to work while at the same time working to live.

What I'm saying is to teach your kids to grow up to be Cracked writers.

Deep inside us all -- behind our political leanings, our moral codes, and our private biases -- there is a cause so colossally stupid that we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men, or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful we can't help but proselytize to the world. In this episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim, and comedian Annie Lederman to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!

See more seemingly smart but actually stupid phrases in 5 Staples Of Wisdom That Need To Be Retired, and learn from the greatest philosopher of our time in The Wisdom Of Wesley Snipes: 7 Quotes To Live By.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see words of wisdom from an unlikely place in After Hours - "Stupid" Movies That Are Surprisingly Progressive, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!

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