You Can be Right or You Can Be Happy
Do you ever think about how, in certain situations, you could be right or you could be happy? Our own attitude and choice of how to feel is up to us, even if the other party is acting the way they are. It’s a conscious decision to be happy, even when that may mean walking away from a situation or asking for assistance elsewhere. Regardless of whether we may feel justified in our upset, annoyance or “arrgh” about a situation or person, or not, we ourselves are the ones who choose whether to be “right” or whether to be happy in any situation.
We can stay mired in the annoyance or anger or frustration, and to be fair, we may even be upset “for all the right reasons,” but in the end, who are we really upsetting? Ourselves!
If I personally choose to stay upset about something that happened or if I stew in some yucky emotions about something for a while after the event has passed, who am I really hurting? Me, that’s who. My own equilibrium and equanimity are shot, but the person that “annoyed” me or the situation that seemed upsetting, is not necessarily upset. They may or may not be, but they are not whom I have to live with. My emotions get free rent control in my mind, so if I want to live with an icky squatter holing up in my mind’s attic, then I could stay listening to the bad talk radio of extra upset, or I can more wisely choose to move to a calmer space and let go.
Easier said than done, but better on one’s psyche and easier on the mind and body. Now, I need to point out that I’m not, God forbid, saying to tolerate abuse or put up with poor treatment. But I am saying, you choose your own focus.
Ages ago, an associate treated many staff in a department dismissively and was always grumbling at everyone around. I knew from previous cold reactions when I’d brought up anything in a polite way to this person, (about how a specific behavior or comment made me feel,) that this only made for frostier interactions with this person.
But, what I realized from those encounter with “Frostbite Flo” was that it was solely up to me to choose to minimize my interactions, to not get caught up in anything with her if I could help it, to not dwell on wanting her to be different than she was and to let it go. And once I moved on in my mind, it was easier to remember that I get to decide that reaction and that happier point of view, even if Ms. Frostbite/Tundra Tillie happens to be someone I encounter regularly. Their kvetchy/tetchy nature needn’t dampen my day at work or beyond.
It was a decision how I opted to react.
In speaking with a wise, close relative recently, they were reminding me about how in all conversations, interactions and situations with others, nothing is ever 100% and you have to have enough courage to know when things may not be seen by another the same way you see them and be okay with that, while being honest with yourself to know that it’s “not working.”
We really can’t change anyone but ourselves. We can try to influence sometimes, not always. And if it’s somebody with a different opinion or view or way to handle a situation, everybody’s entitled to their opinion. You might not like their opinion but that’s not something that you can always change. Whomever may not be acting the way you would want them to may not be able to, or maybe they can’t change. You can disagree with them, but you can’t change them if they don’t wish to change themselves.
Lower your stress, calm your own cortisol response. Don’t be a doormat, AND choose what you are exposed to for stress in media, messages, etc. and what you opt to embrace for mind states.
In an old book called, Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself, author Richard Carson wrote two salient points about this. One was, “It is more important that you be able to regulate enjoyment within yourself regardless of circumstances, than it is for you to be able to modify circumstances; It simply comes in handy more often.” And he also wrote that, “When interpersonal conflict is involved, this may require that you let go of a desire to be right.” (pages 90-91)
People who fly off the handle or who get snippy may or may not be happy…but do I, do you, want to be that way? We don’t have to elect this internal chaos. The key is, as a good friend said, “It’s your own decision to be happy. I don’t look for arguments. If I look at someone and they’re looking for arguments, I’m pleasant but I don’t get involved. Why should I make myself upset?”
The scholar and sage, Rabbi Akiva, taught that when you see a strong wave, duck and wait for it to pass. You will not have peace by getting into the fray of everything and needing to be right or needing to win or needing to get people to always understand you. Anger and temper will be like a strong wave and overtake you and others around you, disturbing everyone’s peace.
Let the anger roll on by if possible. People who are happy train themselves not to hold onto to grudges or negativity. Even if they have ample excuse to be upset for perfectly justifiable reasons. Find a happy medium.
When I asked a respected community member in their 90’s, “What do you think is the key to staying happier?” they said, “Your own private thoughts.” I then asked, “What do you do to get yourself off any negative track or thinking?”
“What do YOU do?” they stated right back to me emphatically, “You’re in charge. Do something good for someone else and make yourself happy. Do a good deed, call a friend, do something nice for yourself.”
And with that, I had enough advice for calm for a lifetime! This is a big job and one in which we all, myself included, get a chance to practice regularly. Feel free to reach out with your thoughts about how YOU choose to maintain a happier equilibrium in your mind’s reactions to events and situation. Email [email protected] and have a joyful day!