I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime thinking that being right would render the ultimate satisfaction. I know what you’re thinking; what a pompous patootie!
As it turns out I was right far more often than I was wrong. But the satisfaction it brought me was short lived and in no way a victory.
In these years I’ve learned that being right isn’t the same as doing right; the latter far more important than the former.
This almost feels like a word from our sponsor: common sense, but there is no denying that pretty much every one of us either is “that person” or has to deal with someone who is. If you’re really lucky (sarcasm) you get to be both. Welcome to my world.
I’ve always equivocated being right with being informed, making good judgments and knowing more than others. Some of that may be true. But being right can also mean that we are judgmental, feel superior and sometimes live in a state of denial. None of these qualities are welcome in my day to day.
I do better now because I know better now. Something you learn as you get older is that you’re not nearly as smart and clever as you have often perceived yourself to be, which ironically makes you smarter now than you’ve ever been. Follow that?
We all know people who think they know everything or who need to have the last word. Those people generally strive to be proven right in any conversation or argument. It’s a classic case of winning the battle but losing the war.
Those of us who have an insatiable need to be right are generally good people. We want to bestow on you the knowledge that we have … or think we have. Aren’t we special?
Allow me this moment to share with you that small little detail that matters far more than the need to be right: respect. If you are able, and once you do, to replace the need to be right with the need to respect the other person, well, you’ve got it made in the shade. And speaking of shade, as it turns out there are many different shades of truth and right. Good to know.
Respecting and accepting the feelings, opinions, fears and uncertainties of others will take us all much farther in our quest for happiness than our need to prove ourselves right ever will. Happily ever after was never built from a road of self righteousness, but rather on the one with a foundation of respect.
The other piece of advice I would offer you is to get over yourself. Hard to do when you think you are all that. But try. Because you might be the cats pajamas (wow, I just dated myself big time) but you are not always right, you never will be always right and it quickly becomes obnoxious to witness the need. Besides, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the effort is truly exhausting.
It’s hard for me to know when confidence turns into arrogance. Maybe they are each a part of each other. I often feel confident but never quite enough to feel arrogant about it.
Learning to be flexible, respectful and open minded allows me/you to live life much more cohesively. It would have been nice if there were a manual to tell us all this stuff. Instead we are left to figure it out, sometimes the hard way and sometimes not at all. Pity.
Maybe one day I will sit down and write such a manual, but then, that would be me trying to be right again. The truth is I’m just now beginning to figure a lot of this stuff out myself. I’m not sure if that makes me one of the most stubborn people alive or just a slow learner.
There’s a lot of advice I’d like to impart to my daughter before I leave this earth (hopefully eons from now) in the hope that it won’t take her 40 years to learn some of life’s lessons as it often did me. But this tidbit, this morsel, this obscure piece of knowledge is golden and it is a game-changer in all of life’s relationships.
There are more heartbreaks that come from the need to be right than there are triumphs. That fact alone should deter us from pursuing it with such vigor.
Take it from one who knows.