Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Right, Or Happy? (Pick One)

What we believe usually dictates how we feel. Our attitudes about people and events will generate our emotional responses to them. Our attitudes and beliefs are always right, otherwise we would believe something else. Since we have practiced our attitudes and beliefs over a lifetime, we are very loyal to them. It is very common to get stuck on our rightness and lose sight of our real human objective which is to be happy. Many people believe that being right IS being happy.
- Russell Friedman & John W. James
There's something to be said about being Right. I wouldn't know what that something is, however. I spend a lot of time playing peacemaker. In the A/B personality matrix, I'm not the one who cares where the hyphen is in Anal-Retentive.

Thomas hasn't spoken with his father more than four times in the last eleven years. His father learned that he was a grandfather about 5 weeks after Darcy was born. At my instigation. Rick and Thomas are so busy being Right that they don't know how to talk to each other. They don't even want to... they're so busy being Right that they're not talking to each other about who was right and who was wrong for issues that no one can even remember. It's sad.

Thomas would rather be Right.

I would rather be Happy.

This means, in practical terms, that I spend a lot of time being Wrong. And apologizing for things that I did, even if he and I both know that I did the best thing at that particular time.

It can get very tiring, sometimes, always being Wrong. Always being the one to come forward, to make up, to make peace.

The problem with being right is it usually costs you your happiness to be right. When you are being right you cannot grow. When you are being right you cannot see areas that you could improve. When you are being right you are not being loving. One of the secrets of a truly powerful person is giving up being right. Even when you know you are.

When you give up being right and focus on what you want, Love automatically becomes present. Love automatically shows up in its place. Peace and happiness show up when you give up being right.

Yes you can be right for the principle of the thing. And if you are right for the principle of the thing what you will end up with at the end of the day is the principle of the thing. It will cost you love, it will cost you your happiness and often it will cost you your wealth. The price it costs to be right is just not worth it.

Yes you get to be right, but the price you have to pay is very heavy.

Thomas brings his work home with him, and he chews over it in the evenings, after the people he's mad at are long since home and eating their dinner and probably not thinking about him in the least.

I was watching him, last night, rant and rave and bitch and moan about this audit thing at Evil French Company. Almost tearing his hair out, knowing that today he'd be dealing with the Manager of Operations, who is both Stupid and Always Right...

After a while, he stopped ranting and looked at me. "What are you smiling about?"

"I was thinking how lucky I am."

"For what? Not having to put up with corporate bullshit?"

"Not really. More thinking it was nice not to be burdened with having to be Right."


"In the end, will it matter if you are Right, or Pete is Right? Will the auditor care? The process is flawed. There's no way to fix that tomorrow. At the best, you'll get an Observation. At the worst, you'll get an Improvement Item. Even if you argue about it, that won't change anything. You'll just look stupid and petty. BOTH of you. So don't argue. Don't make yourself all angry and frustrated. It doesn't matter if he's wrong. It doesn't matter if you're wrong."

"But I'm not wrong," Thomas grumbles.

"Well, you're not happy, either," I say.

"I hate you."

"Only because you know I'm Right."


Anonymous said...

This is serious, serious food for thought...

I think that it would be really nice if everyone could admit when they really are wrong, and no one ever had to if they weren' other words, if no one were fixated on being Right all the time. Hah! In an ideal world...

But the reality is exactly what you said. In order to be happy - esp. if you live with and love someone who has a driving need to be Right - you often have to be Wrong, even when you're not. It really does get wearying.

Where is the balance, between accepting being Wrong so that you can be happy, and having to be Wrong so often that you can't be happy anymore? I think that second is a very destructive place and it makes me sad. It's hard to watch people tear each other apart because someone is fixated on being Right.

I hope someday Thomas and his dad can let go of Right and find Happy. And in the meantime, I'm glad for you that you've got Happy! :-)


R.Shack said...

I've never considered this. As I sat here all I could think about is my relationship with my boss. And I have an entirely new perspective. I can't thank you enough for such an awesome post!

Felicia said...

WOW great post. Very thought provoking!

What if you can be right AND happy about a decision that left you in a place like where your hubby is with his Dad?

I havent spoken to my parents in over a year and half gosh almost 2 years now. Due to a "whose going to be right" type deal. Problem is its been an AWESOMELY happy year with out the pressure and conflict that comes with them. This of course was not a one time deal. After years of conflict I would say this "moment of being right" was kind of a straw that broke the camels back type deal.

So what if being right and happy go together but just dont look like they should from the outside world looking in?

I believe my parents believe they are right. I believe I was right. Maybe its not so much the continuation of a battle but the peace that comes from not working the battle out. That doesnt necessarily mean that because we find peace it means we get along.

I love my parents. But life at least for now is better the way it is, as I do believe I was right AND that I am happy, not only with just my life but the choices I made abou the "must be right" situation.

So does that make it wrong?

Not sure that all came out right lol but anyways great post. Lots to think about.


Thinking Thin said...

OMG, your conversation mirrors the conversation I was having with F last night (at least pretty close to it). Maybe it's a man thing?

Hanlie said...

Mmm, reminds me of my mother. Her way is the RIGHT way and everything else is WRONG and inferior. And yes, she's unhappy. Has been all her life. How glad I am that I've learned from that. In our house every difference is an opportunity to be loving. And you know what, I'm happy!

Great post, Lynn!