Lesson 31: Would you rather be right, or happy?

If you would rather be right, the chances are you either didn’t read about how smart you think you are, or you don’t care.  Neither is good for any relationship.  How many times has someone, anyone, usually your parents or a boss, told you to “think before you speak,” or, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”  I lost count of how many times I have personally heard either of those phrases but they hold true.  They are timeless.  It is advice that can really take you places in life.  This also serves as a continuation of lesson 30: You are not as smart as you think you are.  There is more to life than being right.

Debates can be healthy.  It forces you to defend your position while also trying to understand the opposing position.  This is how we learn and grow.  Our minds develop through challenges like these.  You will either dig in deeper to your position, or you will consider the alternative and possibly discover a better way.  Either way, you come out of it smarter and stronger each time.  Arguments are similar to, but not the same as, a debateThey can be dangerous (physically and/or mentally) and unhealthy.  They are usually unproductive and almost always end up with a winner and a loser.  Essentially, even the winner of the argument is a loser because all that is gained is a new adversary.

I am not suggesting that you need to capitulate every time someone says or does something you do not agree with.  It is important to stick up for yourself and stand your ground on the things you believe in, but that does not give you the right to attack people over what they believe in.  Hollywood may be able to turn bullying into comedic entertainment, but there is nothing that is truly funny about being a jack-ass.  You may prove your point to someone and enter the land of I am right and you are wrong, but you also most likely succeeded in turning that person against you.  Congrats on your momentary victory.  Hope it was worth losing a friend or loved one over.  It is important to learn to play the long game.

This is a very delicate topic.  The lines can sometimes be confusing or blurry and it is difficult to tell when the debate might turn into more.  It is important that you pay close attention.  Not just to what they are saying, but also to what you are saying, how you are saying it, and what you are feeling.  If you are starting to feel angry or frustrated, you next need to evaluate whether or not this discussion is productive.  If it is seeming like there is nothing you can say or do that will get through to the other person, you are probably right.  At that point, all you are doing is wasting time and risking an argument.  In a situation like this, I advise that you respectfully excuse yourself from the discussion.

See what I did there?  This lesson goes hand in hand with Lesson 17: Know when and how to properly walk away from a fight or argument.  When things get heated, it is easy to lose focus on what really matters and get tunnel vision.  All you can see, all you care about, is making your point and proving that you are right.  It is easy to overlook how the other person is going to react to having their personal opinion or belief attacked.  You may end up being right, but by the time you realize you just made an enemy or broke someone’s heart, it is too late.  The damage is done.  It isn’t worth it.  Either listen with an open mind and discuss the matter calmly or walk away and cool off.

The most important question you have to ask yourself is what you are hoping to gain from this conversation.  Is this interaction going to provide you with any value or insight?  Is it going to create a better living situation for you and those around you?  Or is it inevitably going to wreck something in the long run but you are feeling strong and powerful now?  Walk away my friend.  Please.  Do yourself a favor and walk away.  It is not worth it.  The land of right is the land of the lonely.  The land of right is freezing cold.  No matter how right you are, in an argument, there is no guarantee that you are getting through to them.  You are risking everything for what will amount to no value whatsoever.  No one will care but you.  Choose happy.


  1. Debates and arguments are not always the same thing.
  2. Outside fun and games, there should never be a winner or loser.
  3. Know when to walk away.
  4. The land of right is freezing and lonely.
  5. Being right isn’t the most important thing.


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