The Tension Between Being Right and Being Happy
Any relationship that has outlasted its honeymoon phase has eventually experienced the battle between being right and actually being happy. The divisiveness between what we believe in our hearts and minds to be true and to what our partners ascribe, is inevitable. The arguments can be deeply critical ones such as how to raise our children or less so, such as whose turn is it to clean up after the dog? We all have an opinion as to what’s right and what’s fair but when opinions don’t match up very well, we wind up hitting the relational brick wall.
But if I am sure I am right as much as you are sure of the same, then how do we expand our perceptions and opportunities for learning and compassion? Perhaps this is why the Buddha cautioned against becoming fixated on our beliefs, warning that in them we stilt our inherent nature to grow. It reminds me of a brilliant bumper sticker with a succinct and Yoda-like message, “Don’t believe everything you think”. And yet, we seem hard-wired to do just that.
Why are we, as a culture, so driven to be right? The question provokes myriad answers; our education system, our political system, even our religious affiliations; “My God is the right God”. It is easy to see why we strive for correctness. Even more compelling is what lurks on the opposite side of the equation – ‘wrongness’. Even the word ‘wrong’ conjures up so many associations, visualizations and emotions. Can we even think of a time when we were wrong and didn’t feel at least a small bit of embarrassment or shame? Even when our wrongness equated to a good thing – “I’m so relieved, I thought you were in an accident”, often follows with a pang of “What is wrong with me for jumping to crazy conclusions?” Most of us just aren’t good at making mistakes.
So our need to be right in our relationships is an understandable and even reasonable need. It makes sense given the structure of our world. But when it trumps our need to be kind and to be happy, we quickly realize that being right can come with a hefty price. Can we afford to allow our firmly held beliefs and strategizing egos to rule our intentions, when the sanctuary of our relationships thrive on something much more?
We have the option of coaching our ego aside when it is making its pitch to be right, encouraging it instead to see the bigger picture – our capacity for love! Because despite the realization that our human experiences motivate and influence rightness, we all have a deep and spiritual need to connect and to love. It only requires a mindful moment, a hesitation, or a pause, to slow down our reactive and defensive egos. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “These moments ultimately expand your new connection to the power of intention. The universal Source will begin to collaborate with you in creating the life you were intended to live”. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying and instead of but, because this minute shift allows for two experiences, versus one, to exist. Easier said than done? You bet, but its all a matter of practice, and rewards are well worth the effort.