Lessons We Learn….(About Being Right….)

I have reflected several times this week, while hearing about different circumstances, about the question:  Is it better to be right or to be happy? That is why this particular quote caught my eye:  “I’ve learned that when you can be either brilliant or pleasant, choose pleasant”.

Oh sure, we all like to be right.  We see the world from our very own, and in our minds only possible, reality.  When something does not ring true with a belief or value that we hold or an experience that we have had, we feel the need to challenge or correct the other person’s reality.  To be sure our desire to be right can cause much discord in a relationship.  And taken to an extreme, can damage a relationship beyond repair.

So the question to ask is:  Do I need to be right more than I want to be happy?  Is my need to be right more important than my relationship with my child, spouse, parent, friend or colleague?

In our society we have devolved into a population of people who seemingly find it impossible to hear differing viewpoints without feeling attacked or taking offense.  An ‘if they’re not with us, they’re against us’ view of looking at others.  Just take a look at our political discourse to see a prime example of this philosophy (on steroids!).  And heaven help someone who attempts to listen to both sides and weigh the issue with an open mind; that person will be ambushed by both sides!

In our families, we can do a lot of damage with our belief that our ways and expectations are the only right ones.  If we hold so rigidly to our beliefs and expectations, we can ruin relationships with those who we should love most and best.

I think here about my son.  He has always been a bit of a free spirit and did not always perform, shall we say, in a way that his father and I believed was important.  School was always a bit of an inconvenience and planning and organization were challenges for him.  But I decided early on, to embrace who he was and let go of some of my expectations so that he could become the person that he was meant to be.  I chose to focus on his beautiful capacity to get along with others and coordinate groups of kids in the neighborhood to play together, his lovely sensitivity, his ability to figure things out and his phenomenal creativity.

And it’s paid off!!  After determining what my hills-to-die-on were going to be I let go of some of the rest.  To be sure there were still some bumpy times over the years, but now the kid who thought that school cut into his playtime, spends much of his time out of the classroom, reading and expanding his mind.  He is putting his artistic abilities to work creating beautiful art to sell.  He’s studying to become an engineer (on the 5 year plan, but still….) and I have a great relationship with him.

I wonder if it would have turned out as well if I had insisted on being rigid in my ‘rightness’ about who I thought he should be??  I’m sure that I could not have turned him into something better than he is.

If we chose to be pleasant rather than insist on showing our brilliance (and rightness), we create happier lives.  Lives filled with peace rather than discord.  We build others up by allowing them their own brilliance.

Find a chance to let somebody else be right today and know that in their reality, they are every bit as right as you are in yours…….

On the journey with you…….Kathy

(Quote:  Age 53- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

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4 responses to “Lessons We Learn….(About Being Right….)

  1. I have such a boy. I just got notification that his History grade is sub-par, but he can play at least three instruments and no one can make me laugh harder. BTW, I did my undergrad at a top engineering school and many, many engineering students were on the five-year plan. Why I studied English there is a whole ‘nother story.

    • My husband and I have always said that he is the one that keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously! After the things that we have been through together, he can hurt my heart more than just about anybody, but he also brings so much fun into my life!! And about the sub-par grades…..been there (and me a former teacher!). I always assured my husband that he was going to be OK; and I think, so far and fingers crossed, I was right!

  2. Your post reminded me of a quote that has stayed with me since my first year in sociology, way back when:
    ‘If men {women} define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.’ (W.I. Thomas)

    It just seems so important in life to try and understand other people’s points of view and recognise that their realities, however, we perceive them, are fundamentally important to them. It seems like you fully recognised this with your son and are now reaping the ‘rewards.’

    Thanks for a great post; great reading for a mother of a 16-year old son!

    • I can see why that one stayed with you! So true.
      The only credit I can take for my son is in letting him live when I felt like strangling him and loving him when he was a bit less than loveable. None of us does that parenting thing perfectly but if we are lucky, they grow up well in spite of our efforts! I’m just holding my breath until my son is 25 which is when I am told the brain is fully developed (we can only hope, right??)….2 1/2 years to go!!

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