Right Or Happy?

I caught a piece of a Dr. Phil episode (my mother was watching it while I cooked) where Dr. Phil had decided to help an engineer whose wife wrote in to complain that after 20 years she found him too controlling, too aware of the right way to do things, not emotionally engaged enough.

As Dr. Phil battered this guy to lighten up tried to “throw him a lifeline,” he looked baffled and hurt as he tried to ask if his feelings counted, I understood.  This guy, invisibly to both his wife and Dr. Phil, actually had feelings, not just thoughts.  But in the face of this TV assault, the one designed to entertain & satisfy wives at home, well, his feelings were not an issue here, only his willingness to do what his wife wanted was.

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Dr Phil pounded.   “Is being right really enough comfort when you lose what makes you happy?”

Golly, gee, whilkers, what a choice.  And it’s not really even the choice in front of him.  “Do you want to shut up and let others do as they want so you can try to get a bit of what you need?” is the real choice offered.  It’s not about him being right or wrong, it’s about him letting things slide, about him not getting what he needs to try to placate others.

Right Or Happy?  Right Or Happy?  Does that mean that happiness can never come from the satisfaction of doing things right?  Does that mean that one or the other has to be sacrificed?

If I had to give advice to this guy, it would be the advice Chuck Munson gave me when I demanded he offer me some back in 1976.  That advice would be the brilliant statement “Don’t piss into the wind.”   It’s not about being right or happy, it’s knowing when to pick your spots, knowing when your efforts to create change are just more trouble than they are worth.

It may not take a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing, but when it’s blowing your way, everyway seems to be pissing into the wind, just futile enough to not be worth the effort.

Sell Out, Dr. Phil’s way, or Give Out, Chuck’s way.  It’s all up to you if you want to give up what is right or just give up.


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