A Simple but Startling Secret to Being Happier: Stop Being Right
Author of the #1 International Bestselling Motivational Book,
The 9 Intense Experiences
Which do you really prefer: being right, or being happy?
Far more often than most people realize – to their great detriment – it really is an either/or proposition. Do you typically choose being right or being happier?
Which of these values do your actions typically show that you hold higher?
Most people, without even being aware of it, choose being right at the expense of their happiness. And by the end of this piece you may be surprised to see how much you do, too.
People fight, stress themselves out, make themselves and those around them miserable with their ego’s need to be right. It cuts life short and destroys relationships, businesses, and nations.
Nothing is more deadly to happiness than the pursuit of being right ... which is to say, being seen as right. For personal proof of this, consider the people you know who are most insistent on their politics, their patterns, their viewpoint, their way… they tend to judge the most, insult the most, complain the most, and suffer the most. They reek of misery. This is often also reflected in their physical health.
Yet most people aren’t even aware that the choice between these two values – being right or being happy – is present in most of life’s key situations. And being unconscious of it, as usual their egos instead make the choice for them. And being the ego doing the choosing, as usual the choice is shortsighted, fear-based, defensive and unhealthy to the Self’s greater good.
Further, the more intimate the situation – the closer to home -- the less likely most people are to recognize and remember the choice between these two values of being right or being happy. And the more damage making the wrong choice does.
The need to be seen as right is enemy #1 to love and marriage. A parent’s need to be seen as right severs ties to their children like nothing else can.
To “be” right implies a need for others to recognize you as such … to be proven right, seen as right. Again, it emanates from the ego and is vastly different than doing right, which has no need for external recognition. Doing right has no need for others to know you are right.
So to what extent would you choose not being seen as right if you could be happier for it?
Could you choose not to prove your point if you were all the happier for not doing so?
Of course there are many situations where differences need to be sorted out, and where your particular and opposing viewpoint may in fact make an important impact on a given situation. There are many situations where in fact others see black where you see white, and by helping them to see white you achieve some important benefit like saving money or preventing accidents or the like.
Dealing with disagreements is standard fare in life.
Dealing with them harshly – that is, with the ego, as if every opposing viewpoint is a personal insult to your rightness – does not have to be. There is a world of difference between contributing to the greater good (between a couple, in a family, a business, a nation, etc.) versus needing to be seen as right.
And all that said, in MOST situations where people claw, struggle and crack away at their happiness to be proven right, it means little to nothing to less than nothing anyway.
Is it really right if you ARE right about putting the toilet seat up or down but it ruins your morning, and chips away at the health of your relationship, to prove it?
Is it really right if you ARE right about religion, the economy, and your politics but you end up angry and despising large segments of the population to prove it?
The next time you KNOW you are right about something with a spouse, significant other or anyone close to you whose viewpoint opposes yours, consciously back off the need to BE right.
Even as that “I’m right about this!” feeling wells up inside your chest, catch it and stop yourself from reacting this time.
Instead, consider if there is truly a reason to even pursue the issue at all: will resolving the difference really lead to an important benefit, such as preventing accidents, improving health, making or saving money or the like? If so, consciously remind yourself to proceed softly and kindly this time … remind yourself (and tell the other person!) that you are pursuing this discussion gently to achieve the desired benefit, not to have to be seen as right.
Chances are, though, that like most such situations, your need to be right is mostly an ego thing. The potential benefits of the other person seeing you as right don’t equal the stress, the erosion of peace and happiness, that can occur to demonstrate you are right.
In which case, just back off your ego’s desire to prove you are right at all. This time. Let it go with your spouse, significant other or whoever you are in disagreement with.
Let them believe they are right.
And watch and evaluate your own reactions to letting them believe they are right.
Most people are astonished at how difficult this actually is for them. Through this experience most people are startled at the chokehold their ego actually has on them. Even though knowing that you having to be seen as right can harm the peace and happiness, letting someone (especially someone close to you) believe they are right to avoid the harm is a mighty hard thing to do.
“But they’re going to THINK they are right!” your ego may shout. “They’re ALWAYS going to think they’re right!” you may hear your ego insisting.
Recognizing your ego’s chokehold on your happiness in this manner is the first step in removing that chokehold.
After this first time of letting go of the need to be right -- even and especially if it means your opposition will think they’re right – watch what happens. Likely, here is what will happen: your world won’t collapse. Things won’t fall to pieces because you didn’t demonstrate you were right.
Likely, here is what will also happen: there will be no arguments. No clashes between your ego and someone else’s. Nothing cracking away at your greater peace and happiness.
So then, if you want to move toward being happier, try the experience again when the opportunity arises. Consciously back off the need to be right again. Watch how your ego responds this time, so you know where you need to work on being in control of it versus it being in control of you.
And watch how your world doesn’t cave in even if you aren’t seen as being right … how quite the contrary occurs, in fact.
Approaching it like this – consciously backing off the need to be right one situation at a time, versus trying to commit to doing it for good – makes your success and happiness much more likely.
Another thing that tends to happen is that, over time, those close to you see and feel the example you are living and they end up following suite. Though not necessarily at the pace you might prefer, but they end up backing off the need to be right, too, making life all the more pleasant.
Our greatest right of all is our gift, our blessing, our ability to pursue our happiness. But most people are their own biggest barriers in that pursuit. Is your need to be right preventing you from achieving this greatest right?
Which would you prefer? To be right, or to be happier?
Being Right vs. Being Happy
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