A few years ago while watching TV, I decided to flip to the comedy channel. And there I found a comic doing what comedians are eminently qualified to do, dispensing marital advice.
This particular comedian was spreading his wisdom to the males in his audience.
He said this: “If you are male and you are married always remember you only have two choices: you can be right or you can be happy. Pick one.
Naturally the audience laughed – the female portion of the audience laughed – and the males nodded sadly while reflecting on the truthfulness of the statement.
I too would have laughed but Gimalle, my wife, was sitting next to me and decided to correct him by informing me that, “really you only have one choice and that is to be happy as there is no chance of you ever being right.”
At the time I did think his comment was humorous and I shared his advice with a number of my (male) friends, who all laughed, although their laughter was always tinged with a faint trace of resigned acceptance.
Over time though, it dawned on me that this philosophy applied not only to married males it applied to everyone, at all times and in all areas of our lives.
How often have we chosen the need to be right – to prove ourselves to be right – at the expense of being happy?
I am reminded of the number of times I have had conversations with people who have shared their anger and frustration at the way they believe they have been wronged by their co-workers, managers, former friends, ex-spouses etc. over many years.
And as I have listened to their stories I’ve always asked one question. I’ve asked, “What would you like to have happen?”
And almost each time the answer is the same. They want an apology, an acknowledgement by the other party that they have done wrong. And – while few will admit this – I suspect they really want that person to feel bad – to somehow suffer, and feel guilty, for their transgressions.
An apology is an acknowledgment of doing wrong. And in order for us to be right it is necessary for other parties to be wrong. It seems to me that if we could learn to be more selective around defining wrongs in our lives we would have far more time for being happy.
Not for one second am I suggesting that we should always turn the other cheek however, what I am suggesting is that in the overall scheme of life most of the things that we identify as slights against us are really not worth the aggravation necessary to “prove” we’re right so that the other person – the perpetrator of these offenses – can be wrong.
I have often wondered how much of their lives have been sacrificed at the “Altar of Needing to be Right” by those folks who just seem either unwilling or unable to let go of past (real or imagined) inequities enacted against them.
Is it worth it?
Surely the pursuit of happiness is a far more noble cause then the pursuit of being right.
When we are happy we tend to share that happiness with those around us. When we are ticked off we tend to spread the joy of misery with anyone and everyone in our presence.
My extensive and scientific research tells me that people prefer being around us when we’re happy.
The constant need to be right carries with it the risk of dipping our souls in the acid produced by perpetual anger.
Our souls are not nourished by the apologies of others; our souls are nourished by our willingness to forgive.
Being right serves only our delicate, fragile egos. Being happy serves those around us.
Till we read again.
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