Is it better to be right, or happy?
The doctor recently diagnosed me with a serious case of Right-itis.
He claims that I have a complete need to be right in any given situation. Nonsense. Anyone who’s met me will know I’m not even slightly competitive or argumentative. Cough.
I jest, but lately I’ve been pondering this need so many of us have to be RIGHT. The older I get, the more I think sometimes we pursue it at the expense of our happiness. I recently found myself in the middle of a spat between two friends. Both convinced they were right, slinging insults across the ether, neither was prepared to just down weapons and walk away.
Chatting to one of the women on the phone, I asked, “Is this making you happy?” The woman replied, “No, but I want people to know I’m right.”
And while I completely understand where that person is coming from, it didn’t sound like much of a victory to me.
It’s the hardest advice in the world to take sometimes, but sometimes yes, it really is better to be happy than to be right.
Maybe you’re reading this and you think I’m a terrible writer. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not. But does arguing about it benefit either of us? Why don’t you go on thinking what you think, and I’ll carry on living my life? That feels a lot more like winning, to me. Winning me around to your point of view doesn’t achieve anything concrete except for giving you the momentary satisfaction of feeling “right”. It didn’t make me happier. It didn’t help me be a better writer. And in fact maybe now you’ve convinced me of this thing, our friendship will be harmed.
So who’s winning?
So next time you get caught up in a desire to prove that you are RIGHT in a family argument and your MUM is wrong, take a step back. Ask yourself – do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? So sure you could tell your mum that she’s wrong, that you’ve asked around and everyone agrees she’s wrong. You could ask if she knows that you’re SO offended by her being wrong that she needs to immediately admit to being wrong and sacrifice her first born on an open fire (maybe not that bit).
But is that better? Is that really better than being able to say, “Well, I didn’t like what you said, but I accept that you feel differently, and I am pretty sure you aren’t going to suddenly change the way you see things. I don’t want to poison our relationship with lots of hostility and arguments that we can’t take back later. So let’s agree to move on.”
It’s easier said that done, I know. Because sometimes we REALLY, REALLY know we are right, and if only everyone knew that, then we wouldn’t need to worry about what people might think of us. Maybe we just hate the feeling of having someone think they’ve beaten us, or they’re smarter than us.
But one of the lovely things about turning 40, for me, was having the wisdom to know that it only matters that *I* know I’m right. That gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling and I have a special line that I use very often online. “I’m happy to agree to disagree.”
It means – I’m not changing my mind, but I accept that you don’t want to change your mind either. So lets neither of us waste time trying to convince each other.
You might think you’re right but when you find yourself composing your seventh email about how very, very wrong someone else is, maybe, just maybe you’re no longer in the right. You’ve just got right-itis.