I first heard the expression "You can be happy or you can be right" from Wayne Dyer. When I heard that I couldn't imagine that that could be true. All my life I have equated being right with happiness. After all, doesn't it feel yucky to be wrong? Who likes being wrong?
It never occurred to me that being right didn't make me happy - it just made me feel things like smarter, superior, on the right team, or more morally correct.
These are all ego based things, and with all things that the ego needs, they can turn into monsters that must be fed endlessly. I may have felt a momentary sense of satisfaction, but I wasn't feeling the pure, exalted happiness that comes from tuning into love and a sense of oneness.
Despite my initial resistance, I've continued to think over this phrase and try to make sense of it. I've been pondering it and coming at it from different angles for years. And don't you know, I'm starting to realize - he's right!
When I'm angry with someone what I used to want was to feel validated in my anger. I wanted to feel that I was right to feel angry. And all of that focus on what someone did that made me angry only intensified my focus on the thing that made me angry!
I can now see that if I want to be happy, I have to remove my attention from the thing I don't like. So when someone does something that upsets me I ask myself what's more important, focusing on their behavior or looking for love, compassion and joy.
Once I stop focusing on why they were wrong to do or say what they did I allow in a lot of other thoughts. I remember that when people lash out, it's a projection of inner pain. When people are judgmental, it's a projection of their own self-judgement. And a lot of times people aren't even wrong - they're just not behaving in the way I want them to behave.
In order to be happy I have to let go of the need to control, because what can I control anyways other than my own feelings?
This point really came home for me this past Sunday. I went to a recreation area that's popular for hiking and sitting by the river. On this particular day it was busier than I've ever seen it. It was flooded with people and more were continually coming. I didn't know if I should stay - it was so crowded it defeated the point of having quiet time to commune with nature.
But what the heck - I'd see if I could get a parking spot. If I found one I'd take it as a sign that I was meant to enjoy this place. As I circled through the packed lot several other parking vultures circled with me. It was looking dire and I started to leave. But then as I passed the last aisle I saw a spot.
The last spot! Waiting there, for me! It really was meant to be.
I began backing up so that I could turn into the lane and get the spot on the end. It was obvious what I was doing, and then - AND THEN - someone ZOOMED in, cut me off and cranked their wheel to dive bomb into the spot! I've never seen anything like it.
I couldn't believe it. I sat there for a moment, dumbfounded. Did that guy really just do something so brazenly rude and selfish? What the fu - okay I'll stop here, you don't need to hear the inner monologue of curse words I was hurtling his way. Needless to say, I was irritated.
This felt like one of those examples of how rude and terrible people can be. I wanted to take this in as an example of why you can't trust people, why it's normal to feel irritated with people and why sometimes I AM RIGHT DAMN IT. He was RUDE. He was wrong! Grrraaaaaahhhhhhh!
As these thoughts began piling up it hit me - this doesn't feel good. There's nothing about being right in this scenario that feels good. And so I did something I never do. I let it go. I just let it go.
I decided it wasn't worth my happiness to think about. It wasn't worth my energy to linger in this place. It was over. What did I want to think about instead? What did I want to feel instead?
Now that's a question I don't ask myself enough, especially when I'm too busy contemplating how rotten people are out there stealing my parking spots.
What do I want to feel in this moment?
As I began to think about what made me happy - the fresh air, the birds singing, the blue sky, I began to feel lighter. And then I began to think about another phrase I've heard often - everything is working out for me.
I listened to the birds, breathed calm and deep and repeated, "Everything is working out for me." I began to consider that maybe he was meant to take that parking spot. After all, it was so busy, would I have even enjoyed myself? Or would I have been annoyed with the crowds and the noise? Maybe he was actually doing me a favor. Maybe everything really was working out for me.
I thanked the man for showing me that the rec area was so crazy people were acting like ravenous parking madmen, and no, I would not have enjoyed that much insanity while trying to be peaceful and quiet by the river.
Thank you. Everything is working out for me.
I decided then to drive through the tiny little gold rush town just to see if I wanted to hang out there. As I pulled into "town", AKA a bar and an ice cream shop, the street was also flooded with cars and people. This was just not going to happen.
So I decided to drive on and enjoy the back roads. I wouldn't sit by the river, but I could enjoy the fresh air and quiet in a different way. I wasn't exactly sure which way to go, but I knew that somehow I could go a back way and connect back to the main highway.
As I drove along I began to relax and enjoy the feeling that I was right where I was supposed to be. I came down to Orange Blossom Road and suddenly everything opened up. I looked down and saw a river outlet. It looked like you could walk down there.
It looked like I could actually go down there and have what I'd yearned for all along - peaceful solitude in nature.
But I wasn't sure if this was private property. As I pulled up I saw some people walking up with fishing poles. It was then that I saw the sign and trail going down. The fact that I arrived just as they were leaving felt like serendipitous timing. I was being shown the way.
Thank you. Everything is working out for me.
I went down and felt the most glorious sense of trust and support. I felt like this was all a metaphor for life. When I let go of what wasn't meant for me I can get to the thing that is so much better. After all, you never know what's just around the corner, or in my case, just down a beautiful back road lined with blooming cheery trees.
As I sat by the water, listening to the birds sing, the wind in the reeds and the distant hum of cars I felt immense gratitude. For myself, for letting go and trusting. For God, for showing me a better way. And for Earth, for this beautiful, restorative moment.
I'm still working at this, and still catching myself in moments of "Look what they did!" But I'm reminding myself now to let go and to know that another Orange Blossom Road is always just around the corner. However, I can't see it if all I'm looking at is the guy that stole my parking spot.