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Friday, November 25, 2011

Will You Like to be Happy or Right?

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Either You Can be Right or You Can be Happy: Its Less Likely that You Can be Both

One of the less thought about and talked about reason (but very important one) for feeling stressed from time to time is one’s desire to be “right” or “perfect” all the time. And what is “right” is cooked up by the same person who is trying to be right. Agreed that he/she might have thought about it pretty seriously within the ambit of his own cerebral capabilities and after having read lots of literature on it or by being very observant of the people who seem to be right to him/her etc. Yet, finally, it is solely his/her own perception.

So, despite much of such research, the question is: can he/she be absolutely sure that what he defined as perfect or right was really right or perfect? No one can be too sure about it. It definitely is not sacrosanct or the ultimate truth. Yet some people pursue these mirages of being right and perfect all the time with missionary vengeance. In addition, such tribes do not want to fail or be seen as failing against the benchmarks set by them.

And see below what they try to achieve in pursuit of meeting this perfectness! They seriously practice it in most trivial things of life as well as things of medium and high importance. Here are some classic examples:
  • Pronounce each and every word of each and every language correctly.
  • Being dressed prim and proper every minute and every hour of all the days of an year.
  • Never squeeze the tooth paste tube or shaving cream tube or moisturizer tube or for that matter any such other tube in its middle.
  • Following each and every dining table manner and telephone etiquette and every other social etiquette to the letter as described in numerous etiquette and manners manuals authored by all kinds of self proclaiming experts.
  • Never leave the clothes on the beds of the bedrooms or on the floors of bathrooms even for a second.
  • Make sure that toilet seat is always covered without fail and flush at least twice after having done the thing in the toilet.
  • Always eat the perfectly nutritious food in every meal everywhere. Never ever exceed the calorie and other specifications set out by the numerous nutrition experts.
  • Always sleep on the right side of the bed and let the spouse sleep always on the left side of the bed.
  • Sticking to punctuality in each and every situation.
  • Loading the washing machine or dish washer in the right way- as thought out as right by self.
  • All the time trying to set out goals of all kinds and trying to meet those goals and getting upset when not meeting them.
  • Pushing the son(s)/daughter(s) to become champions in many things right around their age of 5 or 6 and feeling upset when they fail to meet such expectations.
  • Presenting self, spouse and children as the most mannerly creatures of the earth.
  • Never miss the deadlines in professional or any other type of jobs.
and the list can go on and on.

Trying to be reasonably effective and efficient is understandable because that can be met within your capabilities and within your other resources. But then excess of anything is bad. When you set out some crazy ideals for self and are likely to expect them from your spouse, children, parents, subordinates and colleagues, it becomes too much for yourself and everyone else around you. And then stresses and strains develop because such tall expectations are beyond the available capabilities and resources. That leaves you and others not only stressed but it is likely to disrupt the human relations from time to time. That further adds to your and others’ woes.

Many times what is right or wrong is never very clear. Different people do things differently and to each one that may be right. So, on trivial and many other issues, insistence on achieving a particular “right way” may be inviting unnecessary stresses. Yet, on some important issues of life what is realistic and achievable must definitely be discussed and what capabilities and other resources of self and others will be required to achieve them must be assessed.

The whole discussion here does not promote accepting a compromising or sloppy attitude towards life but warns all of us against being obsessed about being “right” or “perfect” (as defined by self or others) all the time.

Being flexible and setting realistic and achievable goals within the means of capabilities and resources is the golden path traversing on which will be least stressful and yet meaningfully fulfilling.

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