Why do we always need to be right?


In our culture we are educated in a system that values being right and abhors being wrong.

We are taught from a very young age that answering a question with the right answer is good and the wrong answer is bad. We are graded for twelve years in school with a system that validates the “right” answer every day and devalues the “wrong” answer. No wonder we all grow up needing to be right all the time.

Our society also rewards people with money when they are right. A school student studys and gets good grades because he/she gets correct answers on tests. These answers help him get into a good college, where he graduates at the top of his class because he gets the right answers on all his tests. (This guy is definitely a goody-two-shoes and I practically hate him already). Finally this superb fellow gets a really high paying job because he has a history of being right.

So a second thing we have to do in order to be happy being wrong, is to be happy being poor middle class and not having every single material item that our neighbor has. The Bible supports this truth with “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods,” and I am adding “even his 48″ flat screen TV!”

The need to be right causes us to get into many arguments, often offending those around us. When was the last time you insisted someone else was wrong about something? When we get into that situation, where we are in a face-off  about a particular point, do any of us have the grace to give-in?

It so happened that the day I was considering writing about this, I had a disagreement with my husband. I don’t even remember what it was about, but as I thought about it, I REALIZED HE WAS RIGHT. That was a painful realization for me. My insides begrudged his correctness. I felt a big lump in my chest, knowing that I had been wrong. Somehow I feared dire consequences for being wrong.

Then I started to analyze myself. I pictured Mrs. Houston, my grade school principal, glaring at me from her desk because I didn’t know my geography. I pictured Miss Zigler sneering at me because I couldn’t remember the words to my part in the play. I thought about these incidents for several days. I even thought about confessing to Bob that he had been right, but I couldn’t do it. Then I started to realize that ever since I had been in First Grade I had been told that there was only one answer to a question and that was the RIGHT answer.

I started to feel  better. I realized it didn’t matter who was right about the point of conflict my husband and I had argued about. I realized there was no need to confront him about it and cause another disagreement worse than the first one. I could forgive him for being right and accept being wrong. I felt good about myself. I felt like it was “big of me” to admit being wrong, even if it was just to myself.

Perhaps we all would be happier if we gave up being right as often as we can. It’s possible we would receive more love and admiration from our spouse,  our children, and our co-workers. We might be more relaxed and have a more peaceful life. It sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

Would you rather be right or be happy?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greta
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 13:03:36

    Good words, Nancyola, and I know you are right about this one. I like the part about “Would you rather be right or happy?”

    Reply

  2. From The Pews
    Feb 13, 2013 @ 16:28:47

    HERE HERE!!!

    Happy over right any day 😉

    Though my stubborn pride may disagree!

    I must praise your analysis of this…it had NEVER occurred to me! 😀

    Reply

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