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Would You Rather to Be Right or Be Happy?

Would You Rather to Be Right or Be Happy?
Image by Joyseph (license).

Now, this question might seem simple enough to answer.

But that isn’t the point. The point is if you are prepared to actually ask yourself this question continually. If you are able to be wrong (and not just say that you are able to).

Your ego wants to protect itself. And so you dismiss the possibility that you could be wrong to preserve and keep your image of, for instance, a smart guy/gal intact. People can go to some lengths to do this as you have probably noticed, as you or someone else refuses to accept that they are wrong even though everyone else knows it.

During one course I had in college about the nature of science our teacher said something like this: “scientists must die for a new paradigm to be accepted”. Meaning that a new theory that changes how scientists view the world won’t get a real foothold until the old professors and such people with much influence are either retired or dead.

Sometimes being right is so tied up in someone’s identity that if s/he would be wrong that would mean that s/he didn’t know who s/he was. So not being right is of course refuted fiercely.

Going from negative to positive.

The need to be right can, for example, make it hard to switch from a very negative viewpoint to a positive one. You are so invested in your negative viewpoint and being right that you resist the possibility there can be a more positive viewpoint. A point of view that would be a lot more beneficial to you than the current negative one.

What you focus on is to large degree what you can see. And what you think and how you behave is usually what is reflected in the world and people around you. You can only see and interact with life and your world through the lens that is covering your eye. You need to change the lens to be able to actually see another version of reality.

As Wayne Dyer says:

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in hostile world. Same world.”

Unlocking yourself.

Yes, you can get a lot of positive emotions from being right.

But these brief emotional highs can also block your from even greater rewards and growth in life. They can imprison you in yourself and your beliefs about the world.

So ask yourself: would I rather be right or be happy?

This allows you to be a more flexible person, to analyse your beliefs, to see how you are standing in your own way and to correct yourself in various situations.

There is much freedom to be found when you can let go of the need to be right. It makes you feel so much lighter. I highly recommend giving it a try.

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  • Degrance December 5, 2008, 11:10 pm

    Really, really bad title. I had to read the whole thing twice to figure out what you were getting at.

    I would rather be right than happy.

    But that is not what you are asking. You are asking, “Would you rather be self deluded than happy?”

    My answer to that question is I would hate to be self deluded.

    Being right means admitting when you are wrong and pursuing the new truth you have just discovered. Being right does not mean loudly proclaiming you are right when the evidence is against you.

  • Henrik Edberg December 5, 2008, 11:31 pm

    Degrance, thanks for the feedback. What I was getting at was the feeling of being right, getting yourself stuck in that position and not being able to see or accept that there might be another way.

    Eventhough it was clear in my head what I was writing about it seems like I wasn’t as clear as I had hoped for. Self deluded, is as you say, probably a better choice of words. But the point of the question is to get me – and the readers if they choose to – to question if they are really right in situations in life.

    To get me/them to question that feeling of “I am right and they are wrong”. That is why I like to phrase the question like that.

  • Vincent December 6, 2008, 7:35 am

    I believe that the ultimate aim in life is to be happy. Whatever outcome we choose, we are choosing it because it will make us happy. Even if a miserable guy come out to ask what if he choose to be miserable instead of being happy, I’ll reply, “choose to miserable if it make you happy.”

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  • Katy December 6, 2008, 1:00 pm

    It is a good attempt in order to bring light on to the topic. We often come across people (and sometimes we are one of them) who do not want to own responsibility for their mistakes. They are so self deluded that when you try and talk to them about their mistake, it will almost fall onto deaf ears.

    I confess here that I cannot deal with such people and while talking to them I find myself going from positive to negative rather than the other way around.

    so, I completely understand Henrik’s point of view.

    However, little more clarity and details would have made it much more compehensible.

    Thanks,

  • Chris (from Lifestyle Project) December 6, 2008, 3:07 pm

    I think being happy is the most important. However, for some people being ‘right’ or finding the answer to what they are ultimately searching for is what drive them and ultimately makes them happy.

    Interesting question.

  • Fearless December 6, 2008, 6:46 pm

    I guess the point is that the ego is powerful and controls how we see all kinds of life situations, problems, issues, etc. Henrik is attempting to awaken us a little bit to this by asking us to re-examine our judgments and be honest with ourselves if there is ego in them.

  • Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. December 7, 2008, 1:09 am

    The great thing about choosing to be happy is ideally you are unattached to being right or wrong.

    I can think of a number of times in my life when I was delighted to discover after the fact that I had not been right about things that seemed so right at the time.

    An authentic person knows that rightness or wrongness changes with new discoveries. Those of us who cling to our point of view even in the face of its “wrongness” are sad and scared people indeed.

    The scariest thing of all, however, is when even the most enlightened of us find ourselves in the miserable position of clinging to a point of view so tightly that any other view is shut out. Hopefully we catch ourselves in time to snap out of it.

  • FrauLehmann December 7, 2008, 3:37 pm

    When I ask myself, honestly, would I rather be right or happy, I can only answer: I would like to be happy, more than everything else.

    In my opinion the problem of people who want to be right is: being right makes them happy! Of course it is a great feeling being right. Exspecially when you have presice knowledge in a discussion or whatelse. To have knowledge is the one thing, to use your knowledge in a right way is another. What can you win with knowledge, when you have nothing else? In Germany we say: Stupid people are dangerous. In my view: intelligent people (with knowledge) are even more dangerous.

    I liked the text by Henrik very much. Maybe adding the point of knowledge is helpfull for the understanding. Just a personal hint by me.

  • Melissa December 7, 2008, 5:08 pm

    I knew where you were going with this. I often find myself facing this same question. I like to believe I am always right, but I have learned the hard way that I need to be open to the ideas and perspectives of others. If I am willing to be wrong I can gain great insights, new ideas and some really good times :-)

  • Arswino December 7, 2008, 5:45 pm

    I agree with what Vincent and Chris said.
    I think being right not also bring happiness. To be right also use more ego than modesty.

  • Kati December 9, 2008, 3:55 am

    I don’t take issue with the title; I work for an incredibly frustrating person, who is universally disliked. After conversations with her in an open office space, people come up to me an express frustration, call me a saint, tell me how patient I am, etc., all making me feel “right” about my feelings toward this person.

    But the fact is, their empathy changes nothing- I still have to work for an incredibly frustrating person. So every day I try to make the conscious choice to be happy instead of right. I’ve gone so far as to tell my coworkers not to express empathy; this person is off the table as a topic of conversation. The only person who is feeling miserable is me!

    So days it works, some days… not so much.

  • Katrina Thomas December 12, 2008, 9:40 pm

    Wow… great post and great blog! Thank you, I totally agree with you and yet am human and have to still remind myself that happiness is more important than being right.

  • Marissa - the Word Happy blog December 13, 2008, 5:40 am

    I think I’d rather be happy. Being right is not as important and being happy can bring joy to others.

  • Ruthie December 13, 2008, 11:21 am

    I have to admit I always feel like I would rather be right. It’s hard to get over that feeling, but when I do I tend to realise how silly I was. The next step will be to realise that in the first place!

  • Motivation at Work December 17, 2008, 10:09 am

    I think if you feel you are right. Than only you will be happy. It goes together. Trust in yourself will here be the most important thing. I didn’t understood the chemistry between being right and being happy. For me if i am right i will be happy in any circumstances.