Growing up, I felt that my intellect was valued and that it was always better to be right, to have the correct “answer” and to be seen as “smart”. In fact, the idea of being wrong was anathema to me! The older I got the more I realized that being right all the time didn’t necessarily make me happy and often made me annoying! (Think, Spin Doctors’ song “Little Miss Can’t be Wrong”).
One day I heard someone say, “I’d rather be kind than right” and I felt as if I had been knocked on the head. I thought to myself, “I have a choice in the matter?!” The idea that I didn’t always have to be right and that I could consciously choose to keep my mouth shut and not share my “wisdom” was at first shocking but it eventually gave me a sense of relief. I no longer felt compelled to “correct” others, to make myself understood and to be proven right.
Of course, the concept of being kind versus being right is still not my knee jerk reaction in most situations. But when I allow myself to pause, to take a breath and to reflect on whether others are better served by my “correct information” or by kindness, most often kindness wins.
When I can ask my ego to take a back seat, when I can leave people unchallenged in their own personal beliefs, not only are they happier, but I gain a sense of serenity. This is not to say that I stand by when in the presence of bigotry or prejudice, I can not and do not. But when the issue is small (as most issues are) I think my serenity is more valuable to me and to others.
Then, I let go, I don’t have to be right, I take a deep breath and I choose kindness.