That Ev­ery­one Gets Wrong

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - News - BRAN­DON SPECKTOR FROM RD. COM

Well-known clichés ev­ery­one gets wrong.

Money is the root of all evil

Is keep­ing a cou­ple of bucks in your pocket in­her­ently sin­ful? Ac­cord­ing to the Bi­ble, where this oft-quoted con­dem­na­tion orig­i­nates, it’s not the con­cept of le­gal ten­der that’s evil, but the lust for money that drives peo­ple away from virtue and to­wards greed. The ex­act quote, from 1 Timothy 6:10 (King James ver­sion): “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some cov­eted af­ter, they have erred from the faith, and pierced them­selves through with many sor­rows.”

Win­ning isn’t ev­ery­thing

This mot ivat ional quote isn’t as feel-good when you hear the orig­i­nal ver­sion. The real quote, spo­ken by a for­mer univer­sity foot­ball coach, ‘Red’ San­ders, was ut­tered to a group of stu­dents in 1950: “Men, I’ll be hon­est,” San­ders said. “Win­ning isn’t ev­ery­thing. [long pause] Men, it’s the only thing!” (Take that, “try­ing your best” and “hav­ing a good time”!)

The proof is in the pud­ding

Un­less you’re a baroque homi­cide de­tec­tive try­ing to prove that ev­ery­one at the duke’s ban­quet was poi­soned by the dessert chef, this say­ing makes no sense. The REAL, rarely quoted say­ing goes: “The proof of the pud­ding is in the eat­ing.” The word pud­ding it­self

used to re­fer to a kind of sausage, a po­ten­tially treach­er­ous mix­ture of mixed meats. In this case the proof is the act of test­ing it by tast­ing it.

Be the change you want to see in the world

This gor­geous quote by Gandhi is prob­a­bly the most in­spir­ing thing he never said. At least, not in those words. The guru’s orig­i­nal state­ment from which this is de­rived: “If we could change our­selves, the ten­den­cies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own na­ture, so does the at­ti­tude of the world change to­wards him.” Sadly, that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker as well.

Cu­rios­ity killed the cat

The ear­li­est-known ver­sion of this ex­pres­sion, writ­ten by Ben Jon­son and pop­u­larised by his fren­emy Wil­liam Shake­speare, goes: “Care killed the cat”. With ‘care’ be­ing used here to mean ‘ worry’, the his­tor­i­cal gist is that an anx­ious per­son (or fe­line) can lit­er­ally worry them­selves sick. It’s un­clear how ‘care’ be­came ‘cu­rios­ity’ in the late 1800s but it is clear that mod­ern speak­ers al­most al­ways for­get the re­join­der first pub­lished in 1905: “Cu­rios­ity killed the cat… but sat­is­fac­tion brought it back.” In other words, be­ing nosy might get you into trou­ble, but learn­ing the truth is of­ten worth the risk.

Great minds think alike

If this quote was meant in earnest, Socrates might have penned it in­stead of drink­ing hem­lock. As var­i­ous books of proverbs point out, the now-ubiq­ui­tous slo­gan is best used sar­cas­ti­cally. To drive that point home is the re­join­der most of us of­ten leave out: “Great minds think alike … and fools sel­dom dif­fer.”

When one door closes, another opens

This mo­ti­va­tional para­ble has its heart in the right place. But for all the pos­i­tiv­ity of this slo­gan, the lit­tle-ut­tered sec­ond half coun­ters with a dose of re­al­ity: “When one door closes another door opens, but we so of­ten look so long and so re­gret­fully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Keep that in mind the next time a door slams shut – be­fore the next one opens, you may need to turn around.

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