Continuing with the question I presented to you as we began 2016: Who will you be in 2016 and at what level are you going to play, this question may boil down to you asking yourself: would you rather be right or happy?
From what I can tell by observing us human beings, we have an almost desperate desire to be right, thinking that will make us happy. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is fundamentally untrue. Being right and being happy are mutually exclusive. You simply can’t be happy making others wrong, just so you can be happy. It might feel good for a moment but it never works in the long run and everyone ultimately suffers, including you.
For example, last week I was at a community meeting where about 40 people gathered, as they do each week, to discuss our city issues. One of the attendees was a city council member who, prior to being appointed to the council, sued the city because of what he believed was an unconstitutional approach to setting water rates. The litigation went on for quite some time and he finally won. It has created quite a stir because the city has had to refund overpayments and other cities are now faced with the same problem.
Anyway, he’s now on the council and participating in decisions they have to make as a result of the lawsuit. With regard to one issue, he apparently asked the city attorney if there was a conflict of interest in him participating in the vote. He was told there was none. But another member of the community, I’ll call him John, thought there was and wrote an article in the local newspaper asserting his belief.
At this meeting, the councilman expressed his displeasure directly to John that he made his accusation public rather than discussing it directly with him, said he was offended by his actions, and specifically asked for an apology. Here’s where it got interesting.
John, feeling he was “right” in his opinion, ignored the councilman’s request, refused to apologize, said he did nothing “wrong,” and proceeded to defend his position. You can imagine what happened next. They went back and forth with each other, each justifying their position, each wanting to be right, and nothing got resolved. The sad result was that all the hurt feelings remained and the room of attendees was left with the stench of the discussion.
How simply this could have been resolved if John chose to be happy. Without admitting that anything he did was wrong or inappropriate, John could have simple said: “I apologize that what I did was offensive to you. I’m sorry about that and request that you forgive me.” Notice, he didn’t admit anything. He just took responsibility for his actions that had a negative impact on another.
Now the councilman has to choose to be right or happy. If he wants to be happy, he can forgive John and move on. If he wants to be right, he can refuse. All so simple when you see your choice: be right OR be happy. You can’t have both. What do you choose for 2016?