Sunday 22 September 2013

Happy or Right?

This was not quite the post I had in mind for today but our darling pc decided to throw a hissy fit the moment Mr GBT went away this weekend for work. I am unclear at this precise moment [precise instructions from Mr GBT have been do not fiddle with it!] whether it is a temporary affair or whether she really has turned up her toes. The upshot is the same though- no photos of the cemetery tour I went on yesterday. Don't worry [as if you were!!!] I shall be back with the evidence at a later date. So for now something entirely different.....

On the matter of opinions I totally in total agreement with Voltaire:
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

I would not say that generally I am  a stridently opinionated person, certainly not one who will shout their views from the rooftops in order to make them heard above all others but nor do I automatically agree with what others have to say. I enjoy hearing others ideas because often it raises angles I had not previously considered but I loathe confrontation and am most uncomfortable in the presence of others whose sole aim it seems is to turn every conversation into a bunfight. Any possibility of an unwelcome heated exchange and I will probably take the coward's way out and keep my trap shut and my head down! However, on some issues I will always speak out and defend my corner- I just try to choose my fights carefully. I came across this passage written by Sally Brampton in Being Happy. She really resonates with me and how I view certain issues.

"I've been thinking a lot about anger recently, mainly because it's been hammering hard at my door. Someone is very, very angry with me for not being the person they want me to be, or the person they think I ought to be . They want me to fall into line or, rather, fall into their line.
I am angry with them for precisely the same reasons. After a few toxic exchanges, when I spat from my corner like a cat, I thought, what's the point of all this? All I was doing was defending my need to be right, what at the same time I knew there was nothing I could do to persuade them they were wrong and I was right, just as there was nothing they could do to persuade me they were right and I was wrong.
Sure, we could have won a few battles and landed verbal bullets like sniper fire, but in the end both of us would have lost the war, If someone is that angry and you are that furious in your resistance, it's a fight to the death of such things are bitter divorces and custody battles made.
I've never really believed in the rightness of being right [although it's sometimes intensely difficult not to clamber onto that particular high horse] because right can only ever be subjective, just as there is no such thing as the truth. Truth is not a fact, it's an interpretation so what we are actually fighting about is our right to inflict our version of the truth on each other.
The bedfellows of anger are resentment and self righteousness. Both are corrosive, eating away at us to the exclusion of everything else. As the Buddha put it, rather more elegantly, his voice resounding down the centuries, 'you will not be punished for you anger, you will be punished by your anger.' To put the Buddha's words into neat, modern shorthand is to say 'I'd rather be happy than right'. Meet anger with civility and suddenly the war is over. It's not capitulation, compromise or even an emotional decision. It's an intellectual choice and the reward is peace of mind. It may sound very zen but actually it is plain common sense. If you keep hitting your head against a brick wall you get brain damage. If you walk around the wall, you are free to go your own sweet way.
The most dangerous word in the language of self-justification is 'but'- a small word that carries a powerful punch. When it comes to anger the moment you say 'but' you're on a losing streak. I would forgive him....but he said this. I would let it go ....but she did that. Long after an argument is finished we keep it alive by playing it over and over, encouraging indignant resentment to settle on our shoulder like a pack of monkeys, chattering so loudly in our ear we are deaf to any body else's point of view. Where, in truth, is the argument now? Nowhere, except in our heads. Where is our happiness and peace of mind? It's lying in ruins at our feet.
It takes a conscious decision to let go of righteous indignation to issue a sharp rebuke to the chattering monkeys and send them scampering off into the trees. It's not easy and they will come back, but patient determination will force them to loosen their grip. Right or happy? When it comes down to it , and it always does, I know which one I'd rather be.


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