Do you want to be right?

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imageI heard a funny story about a cowboy who ambled into the local blacksmith shop and picked up a horseshoe, not realizing it had just come from the forge. He immediately dropped the hot shoe, shoved his seared hand into his pocket and tried to act nonchalant.

The blacksmith half smiled and asked, “Kinda hot, wasn’t it?”

“Nope,” replied the cowboy, “just don’t take me long to look at a horseshoe, that’s all.”

I chuckle because I don’t enjoy admitting mistakes, either. Nope, I’m fine.I meant to do that.

Furthermore, when I think I’m right, I usually want people to know it. And when I’m IN THE RIGHT, it’s hard to hold me back. “Hey, I’m the injured party here. I didn’t do anything wrong. I can prove it!”


I don’t suffer righteous indignation quietly.

I learned of a minister who left his pulpit to go to medical school and become a doctor. An old friend saw him several years later and expressed surprise at his career change, but said he assumed it had been because he could care for people in a more physical way now that he was practicing medicine.

“Not at all,” the doctor responded honestly, “the reasons were purely economic. I discovered that people will pay more money to care for their bodies than for their souls.”

Several years lapsed before the friend saw him again and discovered that he had left medicine for law. “What was your reason this time?” the friend asked.

“Simple economics again,” replied the ex-minister, ex-doctor attorney. “I learned that people will pay more to prove they are right than to care for either body or soul.”

I suppose I’m not the only person who enjoys being right. Is that part of our human nature? In conflict, it seems most folks want to come out on top. When they are wronged, they want justice. If no justice is forthcoming, they lament about the unfairness of it all and indignantly brood in self pity. Many people will go to great lengths to prove they are right – and at tremendous cost, not only financially, but in other ways.

Do you know how difficult it is to insist on being right? And how high the cost?

Being the injured party is costly to physical and emotional health. Some people stew about the injustice of it all while their stomachs are eaten away by ulcers. While they wait for an apology or a court case to vindicate them, they grow resentful and bitter. They obsess on the cause of their pain and allow it to rob them of one of their most valuable assets – their happiness. In the end, many of them discover they paid far too high a price to be right.

An important question for me is this: Do I want to be right, or do I want to be well? And a related question is this: Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? Because usually I have to choose.

But it’s a choice I really ought to make.

Steve Goodier


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