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Monday, March 1, 2010

Is it More Important to be Right or be Happy?

At the gym recently, I was approached by a lady who insisted the bike I was preparing to mount for a cycling class was saved for her. I politely told her there were no signs the bike was saved and continued adjusting the seat heighth. She marched outside the door and brought her adolescent son in to tell me he had put a towel on the bike to save it. I quietly explained there was not a towel on it when I came in. I also mentioned it was against gym rules to save bikes. She began raising her voice at me and demanding she ride that particular bike. As others began staring at us, I opted to find another bike for class. I wasn't interested in creating a scene over what bike I rode.

Upon leaving class, she waited outside the door. I didn't want to speak with her and walked on by. However, she approached me and remarked, "You are a rude person." When I kept walking without acknowledging her, she said it again. Go figure. I gave up my bike so she could have her way and she was still unhappy about the ordeal. Convinced she had a right to use that particular bike, she didn't let up on her position.

I left the gym thinking, "Is is that important to be right? Do we need to alienate others in the process while demanding our way?"

How often do we do that in our marriage? Do we insist our parenting style is right because that's how we've always done it and it works with our kids? Do we require our spouse parent the same way we do? Maybe our style doesn't work with our stepkids. Maybe we need to re-evaluate our spouse's position on how to parent his/her kids.

When we insist our way is right, we leave no room for compromise. We offend and alienate those around us.

Relationships are more important than our need to be right. As we work together, we can learn to live in harmony with one another. We can discover the beauty of happiness through letting go of our way.

While attending Al-Anon (a support group for families of alcoholics) during my first marriage, I learned to diffuse arguments with a simple statement, "You could be right." That simply acknowledges another person's opinion without agreeing with their position. It allows the other person to recognize you've heard what they've said and will consider their view. It also enables a disagreement to end without either person taking a superior position.

Letting go of the need to be right allows peaceful resolution with others. It offers a mature alternative to disagreement. It can result in contentment instead of bitterness.

Consider taking the challenge today to seek happiness instead of rightness.



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