Do you wanna be right or happy?


“The rain falls equally on all things.”

Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy? I mean, you just are…right about this.

And you’re mad. Furious actually. Cause you’re right and by default then, the other is wrong.

And as far as I can tell, you can’t be right(eous) and happy.

You tried working things out in an honest, friendly, Zen manner. It didn’t work.

By didn’t work, I mean it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to.

By you, I mean me. I’m talking about myself here. And I felt so so right(eous) three times this week as conflict arose.

Hmm, while this surely happens all the time on a micro scale where I don’t even really notice it’s happening, this week it’s macro. The kind that makes you sit up and take notice. An opportunity to look at all the crazy stories I’ve created that feed suffering.

Sound familiar? You can transform your own relationship to being right and suffering. By sharing my process, I offer you a glimpse of your own—whether it’s the same or different. Just notice what gets stirred up in you when reading. Seeing is the first step to freedom.

This particular suffering is taking place on multiple levels.

  1. Rejection and or judgment of my right(eous) feelings.
  2. Using my mindfulness practice against myself by suggesting that there is a standard to be met.
  3. The aforementioned stories that I act on as truth and can be the fast lane to exactly what I don’t want. I will however get the prize for being “right,” cause I knew that’s what was going to happen.

Let’s choose to embrace this opportunity for a little Zen investigation (yes, I am kind of awesome like that or kind of annoying like that, depending on your current state of wonderment).


It might be good to share that I hate conflict and have spent much of my life avoiding it. And I have a long history right(eousness). When I was married, agreeing to disagree was so freaking hard for me. I couldn’t do it. It felt like my choices were giving up a part of myself (agreement), fighting and trying to win over (disagreement) or disconnection. From the situation. From myself. From my then husband. I did them alI. And I was mad—a lot. It felt too scary to hear anything but my own argument or belief because it would always be followed by self-annihilation and feeling like I’m just so wrong. Yeah, it was pretty sucky.

However, something is shifting in my being and this week, the content was different and I chose to speak my truth. That’s the way content is—always changing. Practice pulls the cloak off content by looking instead at process. And I spoke my truth, because I will not abandon myself when I most need my own support. I will not abandon myself when I most need my own support (a mantra from a therapist I had a bunch of years ago). It feels good.

And sometimes, it leads to conflict, which feels less good.

This reminder from my sweetie is what happens next (in response to my feeling wrong about a piece of content)—I never thought for one moment you were on a wrong track or could go on a wrong track since the pursuit of peace and health and happiness are driving your responses and actions.

I Googled “Zen investigation” and came across the acronym RAIN on Jack Kornfield’s website:

“There are four principles for mindful transformation of difficulties, poetically articulated by Michele McDonald with the acronym RAIN. RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, and Non-Identification.”

So I practice RAIN:

Recognition: What is so: There is mold in my home. I don’t feel safe.

Acceptance: (my personal fav) Yes, there is mold in my home. Yes, my landlord and I disagree about how to handle it. Yes I am pissed off. Yes, I’m worried—it won’t get fixed properly, he might not pay for temporary housing, that somehow I’m wrong.

Investigation: Hello, my love. Oh how you are suffering. I wonder, what do you need right now? Where do you feel this anger in your body? What does it look like? What messages are your feelings relaying you? What old hurts lies beneath? I wonder, is that so? (Are the stories true? Can I possibly know what is happening inside another human being without asking?)

Non-Identification: What if you (for just a moment) let go of being right and wrong (I promise you can pick it back up again in a minute). Let go of “I”. Here we are, two people who want different things. Or do we? We both want resolution. We both want it to be resolved quickly. We both care, he about his property, me about the health of my family.

mindful in the Rain Room at LACMA

In the story of right or wrong there is always fear and if I can be right, I can also be wrong. In the same moment. About the same thing. It’s paralyzing and painful and leads to suffering. My mindfulness practice can become my trap, as it does when fear and ego are driving the car (and let me tell you, they were on a freaking joyride). Choose between happiness or doing what feels right? Just take a chainsaw and cut me in half. That’s what it feels like.

When I drop the story of right and wrong I also lose the story making me bad for wanting what I want. And when I stop feeling bad, I also feel less mad. Mad at the other for making me feel bad. I can unfurl from my spiky ball and breathe a little.

  • I can let go of being “right” and still stand in my truth.
  • I can hear your truth without discarding my truth.
  • I can stand for what I believe in, even if you believe something different.

Yeah, it’s still kinda uncomfortable and pretty vulnerable feeling. I still don’t really like it. And, it opens up a world of possibility.

Anything get stirred up for you? Set yourself free by sharing in the comments.

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