Give Up Being Right

By June 11, 2015 Empowerment 5 Comments


If you’re serious about being happy you have to give up being right.

(Cue egos everywhere screaming of how wrong it is to give up being right.)

The need to be right is so powerful that for some people it is their governing mindset. Although I’m vastly improved in this area thanks to some simple tools I’m about to share with you, last week, I wasn’t even awake when the need for me to be right arose – fast.

Do you sleep well when you know you have to be up early for something you cannot miss? Me neither. Thursday I had to be up super early and on Zoom before sunrise for a Pick My Brain session with a client in Australia.

On a typical morning I am up and on. But, conscious of my commitment, I slept poorly, checking the time frequently, almost like I do when I have an early flight to catch.

Having slept poorly meant that once I was out of bed and downstairs, outside where I take Ella for her morning constitution, I was quite comatose; I could have been wearing a top hat and tails for all I knew. I hoped that was dew from the grass on my toes and flip-flops.

So when Neighbour’s large off-leash dog was out-of-nowhere all over a mid-poo-ing Ella – a rescue who doesn’t like other dogs, never has, never will – she began screaming, adrenaline shot through me, and the two animals went at it, at my feet.

I separated them using power of my super-long Naomi Campbell legs for good, and pulled Ella away – handy, these leash things! – from Neighbour’s dog.

I looked at Neighbour. Neighbour saw what went down but looked away and stared at the ground (the sheepish reaction I find typical of dog owners who let their dogs run loose causing havoc: “I shall pretend like this isn’t happening”).

The complex I live in – the city in fact – is super dog friendly and I appreciate this deeply about both. But my complex has very strict regulations about dogs on leashes; Toronto just announced a crack-down.

In an ideal world all dogs could run off-leash, I’d love that, but in an ideal world my dog Ella wouldn’t have had horrors happen to her so bad that Patrick and I were her third home before she was six months old. When other dogs are off leash and run up to her, they are put at huge risk: Ella will not go down without a fight if she suddenly feels threatened (and I don’t blame her).

The last time this happened was late this past winter when a whole gaggle of neighbours were hanging around, several dogs off leash. I came outside with Ella, on leash, took her away from the other dogs to pee and before she could finish no less than five dogs of all different sizes were upon her.

In her twisting and pulling and defending herself out of panic, she pulled herself free of her collar and ran – as the dogs chased her – towards the closest road, busy with 5 pm traffic.

I raced off after her, caught her by the curb, and put her collar back on. Then I was in the faces of my neighbours; me angry is never cute. I am big, loud, will have a lot to say and won’t back down. My temper is intense when lit and I say that with no pride.

Some dog owners did “I shall pretend this isn’t happening,” one or two found some foul adjectives to call me, all of them though – you could feel it – knew I was right. No dog owner wants their dog feeling so scared that they run off towards oncoming cars.

Ella and I left. As I began to simmer down, I realized what I always do about being right. It never feels satisfying and has a sour aftertaste. I hate the confrontation that often has to happen and I hate how exhausting it is to fight until a win happens. I don’t like losing my temper – in public this time – yay! – and I hate feeling I have lowered myself. I also want to like my neighbours, not bellow at them.

So last Thursday morning when a similar incident occurred I made the choice to give up the need to be right.

Because my prior winter meltdown had caused exactly zero dog owners to change behaviours.

Because I just didn’t want a crap day and anger at 5am is a pretty surefire way to start one.

Because I had a client on the other side of the world who was expecting my best self. Not my riled up, preoccupied, wanting to shoot thy neighbour self. My self with all the ideas, instincts, inspirations, a self en pointe. None of which I would have access to if I had chosen to be right and let that dog owner know – adrenaline pumping through me – morning! – I knew I was right.

Because staying in alignment is where it is at – no matter what.

Staying in alignment – the zone in which you are your best self – requires that you give up being right way more often than you might feel like. This will especially feel true if this is a new practice for you. But give up being right and being right will matter less.

Here is a 3-question test to help you understand why being right is rarely right. Answer each question before going to the next:

1) Would rather be right or wrong?
2) Would you rather be happy or unhappy?
3) Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?

That’s the choice we always have to make in any given moment: be right or be happy. And the thing with being right is so often you can’t be that and happy. I know someone who worked her whole life for justice and since she won “being right” she remains nothing more than miserable most days.

I have personally put being right first over being happy for years. This has cost me people, preferred outcomes, inspiration, opportunities, much time, and more happiness – to start with.

Deepak Chopra says, “Give up being right. Instead radiate peace, harmony, love and laughter from your heart.”

I love that man, but easier said than done when all hell breaks loose, dogs snarling, poo flying, why am I wearing a top hat?

Here are some actionable steps you can take when you feel the need to be right command you, and this is a mind muscle you can build fast:

1) Ask yourself the above: Would you rather be right or wrong? Happy or unhappy? Right or happy? >Tweet this!

2) If that doesn’t work – because the trigger is major, like, oh, your beloved dog’s safety – ask yourself: Can I just fly solo in knowing I’m right?  Most of the time I’m good just quietly feeling confident about how I feel, without rilling up innocent people to back me up by telling colleagues, friends, social media what crappy thing just happened.

3) If everyone must know you are right about something, pick your battles. I would still do the winter raging at my neighbours scene all over again if I had to – but make it worth it because there is nothing pretty about screaming in public.

Last Thursday morning I didn’t need to go past 1). I struck the perfect balance in the hot moment of knowing what I believed was right, and then letting it go (focusing on what turned out to be one my my favourite Pick My Brain sessions ever).

I forgot all about the incident until the inspiration arrived today to share one of the biggest keys to happy with you.

That’s choosing happy first for you. It serves us all, every time. >Tweet this!

Then you radiate good things from your heart (Deepak).

I know I’m  not alone. The need to be right lives in all of us. So now I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever gone out of your way to be right and regretted it? What happened? What are you right about now that you could let go of? How do you manage your need to be right? Important: share your ideas and thoughts directly in the comments, please. As much as I love getting your feedback in private notes and messages, there are way too many people who deserve to know your wisdom besides just me!

PS: Know anyone who just always has to be right? Share this post with them – they’ll thank you later when they are feeling happier than they’ve been in a long time. Make sure to sign up here for email-only #ThoughtRevolution bonus opportunities.

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  • Andria R. says:

    Great article! Sometimes we have to give up being right in order to be happy. And the latter half is way more important.

  • Christopher Aaron Slade says:

    That’s going to be a tough one to practice. Worthwhile because wanting to always be right and shoving it in people faces, though temporarily gratifying feels shitty afterwards, especially if you’ve made someone feel “wrong”. Great article Shaun.

    • Shaun Proulx says:

      Don’t begin practicing on the big things. Stay away from issues that already make you mad – maybe it’s a certain person or general issue. But if you start small, on random things – the rude cashier you would have once given a few choice words to about how you deserved better service for example – you’ll notice the benefit of maintaining or even improving upon the emotional stance you already had (as opposed to worsening it, practically guaranteed). See my response to Andria, below, for a reminder of why feeling as best you can is so important – if you want what you want in life, that is. Thanks Christopher!

  • Joe says:

    I read an article about the fanatical fans at TIFF.
    I agree that chasing a movie star for a selfie or autograph
    is a big waste of your precious time. There was also an article
    titled “Spirit and Abundance” by the host of this website telling
    us to allow abundance into our life. We are our own biggest obstacle
    in receiving abundance. The author obviously gave no
    thought to the starving nations of Africa while he was
    exhorting people to be more selfish and greedy.
    If you follow this man he will lead you straight to destruction.

    • Shaun says:

      Hi Joe, allowing abundance is not the same as being selfish and greedy. The flawed premise in just your words “selfish and greedy” implies via lack-conscious subtext that there isn’t enough abundance to go around and that simply isn’t true. Starving nations in Africa – starving people in Canada even – is another subject altogether. First of all, you cannot fix a problem you do not wish to see by participating in the problem. Joe, have you ever seen someone physically ill while being healthy yourself? Did you offer to become unhealthy to help? No, you never have. Secondly, we are all souls having a soul experience in a human body and we deliberately chose the environments we are in so to have the experience that will best serve us. Thirdly, then lens from which you see things and call them abundance and the lens from which a starving person somewhere does, are completely different. Starving people right now are feeling abundant as some get things they’ve never had – more and better food, water, medication etc – that you would consider probably basic. The “poor people somewhere else” argument is often used by someone who is far off understanding the concept being presented to them at a large, but I hope that my taking the time to write back to you has helped bring you closer to it a bit. I wish you a great day. A really abundant one.

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