From time to time, as I am scrolling through Facebook, I will see the inspirational quote, “You can be right or you can be happy.” It is typically shown over a background of a sunset at the beach or a dandelion, its fluff blowing away in the gentle breeze, or maybe a picture of some wildlife drinking from a small mountain pond near moss-covered rocks. It is mostly attributed to no one, but a Google search (this will be important later) shows that Gerald G. Jampolsky is the one who coined this phrase. Some people like to give credit to the Dalai Lama or Marilyn Monroe because the Dalai Lama is always saying something deep and thoughty and Marilyn Monroe gets credit for saying a lot of really smart stuff that she didn’t actually ever say. At least it seems my Facebook feed is full of women who are going through divorces attributing lots of words to Marilyn. Anyway, Mr. Jampolsky and his wife, Diane Cirincione, are psychologists and run something called the International Center for Attitudinal Healing in California because where else would a placed called the International Center for Attitudinal Healing be located? It is probably a place several people in my life – but mostly my husband – wish I would visit, at least once and, apparently, with good reason.
The thing is, I like being right. Being right makes me happy. So be right or be happy? Nope, I am happy because I am right. HA! HAHA! I WIN, Gerald Jampolsky!
My weapon of choice in my path toward eternal rightness is Google. In fact, I feel Google was probably really invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Yep, Googled their names) because they wanted to be more right than anyone has ever been and they also wanted to be able to prove their rightness. Let’s face it, there is no point in being right if the person you are arguing with can sit there and smugly bask in their wrongness like THEY are the one with the all-important correct answer and there is NO way to check the answer. What is the point of knowing that Motownphilly was released in 1991 if you can’t wave your phone screen displaying the correct answer in the face of the one saying it was 1990? Moral victory? Ha! I don’t want me to be the only one who knows I am right; I want you to know that I am right.
If Google is my bullet, my phone is my gun. I can draw in record time, thumbs out and ready to type the in the piece of trivia we are arguing about, ready to hit search before the other person has even considered taking their phone out of their pocket. Possibly because they don’t have the same neurotic need to be right that I have and simply don’t care that much, and just remember at that dance in the 8th grade, they killed it on the dance floor to Motownphilly. But who really knows what their motivations are and why they are slow on the draw?
The next moment for me is sweet, sweet victory as I all but shove my screen in your eyeballs and say something like, “See? Ha!” or maybe “Nanny nanny boo boo.” For that brief, shining moment, I am on top of the world. I mentally dance around like this:
I then smugly put my phone down, but not so far away that I can’t draw again if the need arises.
Then I look at my husband, who – let’s face it – is almost always the one on the receiving end of my desire to be the rightest person in the room. He looks … a little irritated maybe. I may have noticed some major side eye going on while I was congratulating myself on knowing the name of that actor who guest-starred on that show in the 80’s that one time.
Huh. Seems like my quest along the path of rightness may look, at least to my husband, like it is my quest to prove him wrong. It’s not really. I’ve been doing this, to my knowledge, since the beginning of my time on earth. I remember in fifth grade one of my very favorite teachers, Mrs. Long, gave us the assignment to do a book report on a biography. When a classmate of mine named Melanie (or Melody?) gave her book report on the fictional work “Six Months to Live”, a book I LOVED, I could not keep my mouth shut. My hand shot up and I informed the teacher that Dawn Rochelle was not, in fact, a real person. Mrs. Long just nodded her head and quietly suggested we let Melanie/Melody continue with her report. I also corrected Melanie/Melody when she mispronounced the name of one of the members of the “Baby Sitters Club” and when she said Arkansas like Ar KAN-zuhss instead of ARK-en-saw. I am pretty sure Melanie/Melody hated me. She should have. I was a 10-year old know-it-all with no filter who publically pointed out her mistakes.
I would like to tell you that I’ve grown since then but, apparently, not so much. There is a difference though and it is that I am at least now aware of my know-it-all tendencies and knowing is half the battle. So, instead of making a long list of resolutions this January which would be broken by now anyway, I am going to try to take a step back and be self-aware. I am going to try to use these little nuggets I’ve learned about myself the past 36 years and realize how my stuff makes other people feel. And not only that, I’m going to try to be self-aware in the moment, not after I’ve already “won” and am getting the stink eye from the person opposite me in the living room.
I’m hoping for a little help from Neil. He probably shouldn’t challenge me on things re: books I’ve read, reality TV and Beastie Boys lyrics, for example. These are my strengths and he is well aware. He is always proud to have me on his Scene It team for a reason. In return, I agree to that I won’t challenge him in the area of sports and math. I will attempt to contain myself even if I have itchy trigger thumbs and I will attempt to remember that maybe Gerald G. Jampolsky is correct on some level on this whole right/happy thing. Neil will probably think I can’t do it; that I will fail miserably unless I sew my thumbs to the couch cushions. But we all know he is wrong.