I love the quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Let go of your ego’s need to be right. When you’re in the middle of an argument, ask yourself: Do I want to be right or be happy? When you choose the joyous, loving, spiritual mode, your connection to intention is strengthened.” He elaborates on this and other ideas in this article.
I sometimes see it shortened to just the question, “Would you rather be right or be happy?” When taken out of context however the meaning can get confused or misinterpreted. In my understanding, this is a question you ask yourself in the midst of a direct conflict that has escalated from a discussion to an argument. I don’t think it means you have to give up or change an opinion that is important to you in order to be happy. You don’t literally have to choose between two options, being right and miserable or being wrong and happy. Neither of those sounds particularly appealing, and although the spiritual path is not always easy, it does ultimately lead us to love, peace, and a better life. In this context, I believe Dr. Dyer is saying to release your need to have everyone else think you are right, and your need for them to agree with you. If someone began arguing with me that the sky is not blue but pink, I might engage for a time, state a few facts or ask them to look at the sky. If they continued to argue, at some point I would simply let go of the argument as unimportant. I might even happily gaze with them at the beautiful, albeit ambiguously colored, sky. Because I am not emotionally invested in the color of the sky and am confident in my opinion, I probably won’t get too upset if someone disagrees with me about it. I once had a therapist say that if someone told me, a brunette, “I don’t like you because of your purple hair,” that I would simply laugh it off and not give it a second thought. Yet if the same person said, “I don’t like you because you’re selfish,” I would probably be hurt and maybe even try to defend myself and start an argument. Why? Because it hit a nerve, a fear that deep down I am selfish, or that I sometimes act in a selfish manner. Of course, being falsely accused of a negative quality is not pleasant. But when we are secure in our own rightness it is easier to let go and move on.
This idea can also be applied to arguments you may have with yourself and your own preconceived ideas or habits. People often complain about their current situation yet make excuses for why they cannot change it. They are choosing to be right about their miserable state rather than admit that there may be another way, a path that leads to happiness. When someone comes to me with a situation or issue, I often try to help. I’m a fixer, healer, and nurturer by nature. I have learned that this isn’t always the best approach, as there are times when a person just needs to speak and be heard. It is when the same person continues to complain about the same issue without taking steps to address it that I feel this quote fits best. Thoughts and words are powerful, and if the same complaint is repeated internally and voiced externally, it becomes a negative mantra without you even realizing. You are affirming something you don’t want! And even if you don’t believe the universe hears and responds, you can’t deny that your subconscious hears and takes in those negative intentions. How many times have you heard phrases like this: “I can’t meditate, I have too many thoughts.” “I can’t do yoga because of injury/inflexibility.” “I don’t have time/money to eat healthy.” “I hate my job but I can’t quit.” “Life is unfair.” “That’s just the way things are.”
And if that’s the way you think, you’re absolutely right.