Nov 09

The Games People Play: Being Right vs. Being Happy – Part One

Tag: * Top Rated,Happiness,Personal GrowthBeth Banning @ 6:03 pm

The One Game No One Wins!


Do you remember playing board games as a kid with family or friends? Was there one person who was a stickler for the rules–somebody who took all the [tag-tec happiness]joy[/tag-tec] out of playing by arguing every roll of the die?

Now as adults, we might find ourselves playing the “I’m Right, You’re Wrong Game”, but does concentrating on who’s right and who’s wrong ever leave anyone [tag-tec be happy]happy[/tag-tec] and satisfied? Have you become the stickler in your game of life?

if so, you can stop playing that less than satisfying game right away by learning three steps to help you move towards a happier, [tag-tec reduce stress]less stressful[/tag-tec] and more for filling life.

What are you thinking about?

Before you do anything else it’s essential that you figure out why you end up feeling tense, frustrated or angry in the first place. Take a moment and listen to what you are saying to yourself. Many times, upsetting thoughts end up focusing on things that you “don’t want” and who’s “right” and who’s “wrong” in this situation.

Your thoughts might sound something like this:

“They shouldn’t keep me waiting!”

(“They’re wrong!”)

“Somebody who really cared about me just wouldn’t treat me like that!”

(“They’re wrong!”)

“How can they think it’s appropriate to interrupt me when I’m talking!”

(“They’re wrong!”)

Each of these thoughts focuses on what you don’t want to have happen—don’t want to be kept waiting, don’t want to be treated that way, don’t want to be interrupted.

Focusing on what you don’t want makes it very easy to slip in to playing the “Right/Wrong Game”.

Where did we learn to play this game anyway?

The adults in our life played this game with us as kids as a way to teach appropriate and inappropriate behavior. We learned early on to distinguish who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s nasty and who’s nice, who’s good and who’s bad. As we grow up we get pretty good at identifying these things. We also learn to point out what we don’t want, but we’re almost never taught how to identify what we do want–the things that are really essential to us personally.

As we grow, we continue to play this “Right/Wrong Game”–even though it becomes a major stressor that affects our sleep, our attitude, and ultimately, our ability to be happy. Playing this game over and over, creates a cycle of discomfort, confusion and pain. In fact, if you feel uncomfortable thinking about the same issue more than three times, you’ve most likely slipped into this cycle already.

How does the discomfort–confusion–pain cycle work?

Stress can be caused by worry, frustration and anger. Your mood is affected by stress. How you interact with the world is heavily influenced by your mood. Unsatisfactory interactions lead to more frustration and anger. The cycle starts all over again and gets even harder to break.

When your thoughts return to the same upsetting situation, and leave you feeling uncomfortable, tense and angry, you’re probably headed to the Hall of Fame as a major-league player of the “Right/Wrong Game”.

But there’s good news! You can make a fairly simple choice to continue playing this game or to stop. As The Course in Miracles says, it all comes down to one simple choice: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

We know this is easier said than done. That’s why in part two of The Games People Play: Being Right vs. Being Happy we’ll take you from being a player in this blame game and show you three simple steps that will support you in playing a much more fun and satisfying game from now on.

Until then, start paying attention to your thinking. Are you focused on who’s right and who’s wrong? Are you paying attention on what you “don’t want”? The answers to these questions will support you in easily understanding and implementing the steps in part two.

Until next time…

8 Responses to “The Games People Play: Being Right vs. Being Happy – Part One”

  1. Ivelina says:

    This is a great post.

    We all want to be happy.In the past I have been wasting time on thinking about what I do not want.I am not that person any more and it is the best feeling ever-to accept,let go and be.

    Thank you so much for your valuable and priceless information.
    I am looking forward to part 2.
    Warmest regards,Ivelina

  2. Mona says:

    If I didn’t care about being right, at this moment I’d still be a completely helpless, clueless, abused and controlled wife of a narcissistic abusive man who hid things from me. If I didn’t care if I was right or wrong, I never would have sought out the answers that I needed to find out why his behavior was so painful to me. I never would have bothered to find out if I was right about his drug use – I simply wouldn’t have cared.

    So, before ya go dismissing one of our conceptual tools, remember, not all uses of this tool are BAD, OK??? Sometimes these tools are what we need to find out how to make good decisions against bad ones and lead eventually to the path of happiness. They also lead to mastery of something and task accomplishment sometimes. But not all, sometimes what you are saying is true. But being a chronic rule follower – I have found that following the rules in anything is a sure way to relieve stress and not to have to overthink things. There is a place for rule followers and such.

    • Beth and Neill says:

      Dear Mona,

      First, we’d like to say that whatever it took for you to leave a marriage that was as painful for you as you describe, is a wonderful thing. We completely understand that moralistic judgment (good/bad, right/wrong) is the most effective tool for motivating action that most of us have at our disposal in today’s society.

      But our hope is that as a society we can begin to translate this moralistic thinking–looking outside of ourselves to determine who is the problem out there–into looking inside of ourselves to determine what’s most important to us at a core value level.

      With this perspective, you might have been able to observe your husband’s behavior and known clearly that his behavior was not going to support your happiness or create the kind of relationship that you wanted.

      With this clarity that what you deeply value that was missing, you could make conscious choices about what actions you were going to take so that you could live in harmony with your core values.

      As an example, you said without the ability to identify who’s right and who’s wrong, “I never would have bothered to find out if I was right about his drug use – I simply wouldn’t have cared.”

      With this new paradigm, we believe you would’ve cared deeply–we suspect, even more deeply in fact. This is because you would have been connected to what was most important to YOU at a core level.

      You would have had the awareness of him “hiding” things from you (and whatever other behaviors you found objectionable), but you would have been much clearer that honesty, clarity, trust are VERY important to you.

      You may have then either discussed this with your husband, looked for support to remedy the situation, or taken other actions to create what was missing for you. And despite all these efforts your husband may still not have been willing to change.

      But with the awareness that honesty, clarity, trust are vital to you, we believe that you would have been just as motivated–and probably even more so–to make other choices that are more in harmony with how you want to live.

      But if the end result is the same, why do we prefer the “values based” approach? Because it is less painful for you in the process.

      We have never found someone who holds that they are the victim of another person’s “wrong” actions who does not also experience some level of resentment, hurt, anger, or other negative, stressful emotions while entertaining these thoughts.

      Again, we are thrilled you found more happiness in your life by taking the actions you did. Hooray! And, we hope you continue on your journey toward happiness in the least painful way possible.

      With Love,
      Beth and Neill

  3. Steve Viglione says:

    Great work Neill and Beth, great reminder and support for the healing from this chronic social illness. Steve

  4. Leland Channey says:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say that I’ve really liked browsing your posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!

  5. James Greene says:

    Interesting post. I tend to lean towards the being happy side 😀