I just love the phrase, “;do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”; I have such a need to control things and be right all the time. My default is perfectionism and it can really get in my way. So the burning question about my priorities, being right or being happy, really brings me up short and reminds me that trying to be right all the time robs me of happiness, serenity, and energy.
Growing up in my household, my Mom and I were always battling to be right. We both had a pretty intense need to up one another and prove the other one wrong on just about every subject. The fur would fly quite often. When I began taking care of her I went in with swat gear on. Since it was the beginning of her dementia diagnosis she was still pretty feisty and not at all happy about me taking over her care as you can imagine. Being right still mattered to both of us. Miraculously, I began to get it into my thick head that the importance of being right just didn”;t feel as important anymore, especially with her. What was my problem? She was sick and suffering and although she was still fighting to hold on to the being right trophy, why in God”;s name did that matter anymore? Why did I have to fight with her or need so badly to have the final say or prove her wrong? I finally got the message that I was off kilter and needed to make some serious personality adjustments on my end.
Changing my need to be right wasn”;t easy. It took lots of hard work and practice. It took lots of self-awareness and tons of mistakes. But once I got the hang of it and began to feel the tension in my body and soul when I began to push against other people and their opinions, I began to see how easily I wanted to go to battle to make myself appear smarter or more in control. It”;s always about control for me. The reality is I really don”;t or can”;t control anything anyway other than my reactions. I began to see it was all such a waste of time and in the scheme of things being happy was so much better than being right. The rush I would feel from one-upping someone was so fleeting but being happy was such a treasured feeling. Allowing others to have their opinions or do things their way and especially in my Moms case actually listening and being open to what she wanted or needed without questioning or dismissing her was so much more gentle, caring and absolutely easier. Why create stress and tension for nothing? Why not we soft and loving? That”;s the real way to feel good, and feel good not only for the moment but for all the “;looking back”; at my time spent with her. The memories I cherish most are the ones when we could laugh and spend time together without contention. I made those types of memories by choosing to be happy and throwing being right out the window with my self-righteousness.
Think about this the next time you feel yourself begin to go to battle. How important is it? Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy? The memories you end up with are shaped by the choice you make.
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