Sunday, May 4, 2008

Things I've Learned - Lesson 2

It's often better to be happy than to be right.

When I first moved to Seattle, I was an emotional mess. Abandonment issues from my childhood caused me to live in a hard-shelled cocoon of self-preservation. I wanted to love and trust people, but didn’t know how and so was self-sufficient in the extreme. Knowing it wasn’t healthy to be like that – master’s degree in psychology – I decided to seek help. However, since no one was trustworthy, finding an alternate way to healing was critical.

During my first year in Seattle, I found a non-denominational new-age church. It was small, in an intimate setting and suited me very well. Some people at the church decided to start a Course in Miracles study group, and I was delighted. We met every Saturday morning.

In case you are unfamiliar, The Course is divided into three sections: the “Text,” the “Workbook for Students,” and the “Manual for Teachers.” At the advice of our original group leader, we started by reading from the “Text” and then closed every session with one lesson from the “Workbook.” By the time we got to the “Manual for Teachers” we realized it was probably where we should have started, because according to The Course, everyone is a teacher and that section was the most basic and easiest to understand.

Over time, we went through The Course from cover to cover several times – all 1,108 pages of it - not including indexes. The first time through, it was like walking through a maze. We’d round a corner and see what looked like an exit only to find a dead end which propelled us back into the labyrinth. We talked for hours about what it meant, reading one heading and sometimes one paragraph per session in our attempt to decipher it. It was confounding and confusing and frustrating.

There were times I walked away from our meetings thinking I would never break through the complicated language to find meaning from the words. But slowly over time it started to make sense. It was through our own united willpower and desire that we were finally able to break through.

I learned it’s more important to be happy than to be right. I never thought about how detrimental my stubbornness was to my happiness, and how hurtful it could be to others. Sometimes the things, about which I most needed to be right, were not very important in the general scheme of things. Simple things like how to arrange your kitchen cabinets didn’t really matter. I had to let them go.

I learned that the world is filled with love and happiness and we will find what we are looking for when we know what we want. This was a difficult concept for me because, since my early childhood, I’d never known real love and happiness. I had no idea of what I really wanted and how it was supposed to look and feel. There was no role model to go by. There was no list and no rules to guide me. Figuring out what I wanted was a seemingly impossible task.

I learned every person we meet is a mere reflection of ourselves. We can learn something from them all, and the briefest encounters or the longest relationships provide opportunities for us to grow. Since I didn’t particularly like a lot of the people I met, it was painful to think they were personal reflections. The most irritating part was, many of the people I disliked kept hanging around. When I finally realized the only way to make them go away was to actually learn the lesson they were here to teach, they gradually started disappearing.

I learned everything that happens is either from love or from a call for love. All the negative feelings - anger, fear, hatred, envy, etc, - are just a call for love. We can see things differently just by looking at situations and people with unprejudiced eyes. Instead of reacting to the negative feelings with more negativity, if I looked at them as a cry for help from that person, it was easier to tap into the love inside myself and return love to them.

Applying these lessons isn’t always easy, but over time it’s become deep-rooted in me and it’s more natural now to react from love.

Sometimes being perfect is really, really hard work!


wordtryst said...

I've got so far to go. Seems the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. Getting past having to be right is one of my major challenges.

John Elder Robison said...

It is hard to be perfect, but being Aspergian helps. Because then I can logically evaluate the chances of such an achievement.

Since I know it's highly unlikely I do not torment myself by trying.

And one can still derive satisfaction from cabinet rearrangement. Yesterday I spent the day outside cleaning up my yard and I found that a satisfying experience.

bookfraud said...

but how can i be happy if i'm not always right?

i learned this one from my father, who, unfortunately, only learned it late in life.

all the negative feelings - anger, fear, hatred, envy, etc, - are just a call for love

how true. and how this means that some of us need more love. now that i'm thinking of anyone in particular.

ChrisEldin said...

I feel like since my late 30s, I've been ready to learn things like this. I have so far to go.
This sounds like a group I'd enjoy. I'm not into organized religion (hope I don't offend anyone)

The Anti-Wife said...

Getting past having to be right is one of most people's major challenges.

A real advantage to being Aspergian. I think I have many traits of Aspergers. I too derive much satisfaction from organizing things.

The Anti-Wife said...

Most of us could use more love in our lives. But we have to be open to it.

The fact it wasn't an organized religion made it palatable to me. Otherwise I probably would have shunned it at that point in my life. I'm more open to possiblities now.

WriterKat said...

This post hits home for me, it's taken years to figure out that not everything is worth fighting for/about. Sometimes it's just nice to put down the hatchet and enjoy the peaceful times. Is anyone ever really right? There's a lot of gray in the world.

I need the reminders though - it's easy to go back to my default pattern.

Ello said...

This is a great post because I too made this realization not too long ago and am happier for it. I am a taurus so I am as stubborn as they come. But it really is about letting go and not letting things bother you. It was hard to do, but I enjoy life better for it.

But of course - I am always right when it comes to the hubby. ;o)

cindy said...

i am a virgo and i am always right and am super stubborn. it isn't easy, and i think i'm letting a little go as i get older. but it's still a hard lesson to learn and accept.

thanks, AW!

Merry Monteleone said...


Wow, now I have to go back and see what Lesson Number 1 was... I've come to the realization recently that there are a great many things in this life you just can't control... but you can choose to make the best of it. Happiness, I think, is a choice. If you decide to make the best out of your journey, you'll enjoy it more and give more joy to those around you - now just to practice what I preach... there's the hard part... especially when it's so much easier to wallow some days.

Thanks for the pick me up, AW.

Travis Erwin said...

Sound principals that all of us would do well to remember.

kathie said...

Anti-wife, how incredible to know yourself so well. How hard the work must be, too. Being happy instead of there's something to consider.