Some time ago I watched a comic on television dispense sound marital advice to the male members of his audience.
“Gentlemen,” he informed them, “remember this; the moment you got married life was reduced to only one of two possible choices.
- You can be right.
- You can be happy.
As a happily married, but never right, male I immediately grasped the wisdom of this sagacious soul and vowed to henceforth commit myself to a life of perpetual happiness while forevermore forsaking my obviously overvalued previous needs to be right.
Over the next several months as I gleefully shared the secret to a joyful life with all of my married friends – my male married friends – I began to realize that perhaps, within the few words of a short sound bite uttered by a man makes his living by making others laugh, lay the seeds of a powerful philosophy that could potentially be the secret to a happy and stress-free existence for all of us.
How often have we engaged with others in heated discussion over matters of almost imperceptible triviality?
Why did we do that?
How many times have we recounted the sad tales of unjust and unfair practices that have been levied against us by others in the hope that those to whom we are telling these tales will agree that we were wronged, thus strengthening our case and furthering our conviction that we are right?
And how many times have we felt the need to “correct” our friends and colleagues while they are telling a story, or relaying the details of an event, because they, perhaps, left out a tiny piece of irrelevant data or included an inaccurate piece of information that has no impact on the story?
But we took this action because we needed to be right?
And how often have we provided others with our wisdom, insight and advice without ever having been asked to do so, because we viewed our advice – which usually is nothing more than our own opinion – as being superior and correct.
And we need to be right.
This need to be right is very similar to something called the “smartest guy in the room” syndrome (we all know this one) and they both share a common outcome.
Practitioners of these two behaviours – while always “Right” and always “Smart” tend to have a third talent and that is the ability to tick off large numbers of people.
And this, usually, does not lead to a particularly happy life.
I have shared this “right or happy” philosophy with many people over the years and, without exception each person has, at some later point, reported back that their lives have been enriched through reduced stress levels and more fulfilling relationships and friendships each and every time they have chosen happiness over rightness.
My wife, Gimalle, recently attended a multi day workshop whose attendees included a young delegate who took it upon himself to constantly correct the seminar leader and to regale the group with tales of his own experiences that he felt necessary to share in order to establish his own “smartness.”
He managed to successfully alienate so many of his fellow delegates that by the early afternoon several people felt the need to tell him to “shut up” and stop monopolizing the discussion and when then folks were placed into small work groups for an exercise he was not invited to join any of the groups.
But at least he was right.
It seems to me that if two of us are in a discussion that becomes heated because of differing viewpoints and we each become determined to “win” the argument then in order for one of us to win the other has to lose.
So for one to be right, one has to be wrong.
And if neither of us needed to be right we could discuss our opposing perspectives and respect our differences.
And we could both be happy.
A much better way, don’t you think?
See, once again I’m right.
Till we read again.
P.S. If you haven’t had time to read the free chapter of my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours you can do so now. Click here and enjoy. You can order your own copy by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can click here and the great folks at Self Connection will ship a copy to you right away.
P.P.S. My book is still Number One on the Self Connection Best Seller List. I would like to say a huge “Thank You” to all of you who purchased the book. Your kind and supportive emails have meant so much to me and it is from these kind words that I draw the inspiration and energy to write these silly blogs each weeks. Thank you.