THE BLOG
11/16/2015 09:35 am ET Updated Nov 16, 2016

Why Giving Up the Need to Be 'Right' Will Make You Happier and Set You Free

At some point in our lives, we've all yearned to be right. And in highly objective scenarios or professions -- such as medicine -- being right certainly serves a purpose and can be helpful for those involved. For example, you would certainly want your doctor to prescribe the right medicine to treat your infection or know the right way to set your arm in a cast, as these actions are crucial to the healing process. In either case, if a doctor were to approach the situation incorrectly, it could have adverse effects for the patient.

But what about working to be right simply for the sake of being right? Whether we realize it or not, the ego is behind such behavior -- which is not necessarily in our best interest. The ego is at it's best when it's seeking approval and validation at all costs and it doesn't care who it has to step on to get there along the way. It operates out of self-motive and is shortsighted. The ego thrives on drama and blocks our ability to see our realities for what they truly are. But above all, it loves to compare and prove others wrong so it can be seen as right.

The feeling of being right may, at first, be quite gratifying and even addictive. But enabling that feeling to take over won't bring you happiness or enable you to get ahead and, in fact, will do just the opposite. That's because when you decide that you are right, you're taking on a righteous attitude that closes your mind against other possibilities that might exist. Your learning simply comes to a halt, which is only a disservice to yourself because it could be happening for a higher good that you aren't even aware of. You may think you have all the answers, but the truth is you don't and acting as though you do makes you emotionally expensive (and draining!) to those around you -- whether spouses, co-workers, friends or family.

The good news is you do have the ability to stop this behavior in its tracks and keep the ego from controlling your life. Here's how:

1. Focus on Making an Impact Rather Than Seeking Love, Popularity or Appreciation -- Stop looking for credit and instead focus on what you can to do contribute in a positive way to a situation or add value. It's ok to build a camaraderie or have friends along the way, but make sure you are liked and respected for the right reasons and that your actions are genuine.

2. Rid Yourself of Defense -- If you find yourself getting defensive about something, recognize and diffuse it. Take yourself to a more neutral mindset where you can see all sides for what they are and try to see change or unexpected situation as a new lesson or opportunity for growth.

3. Put Criticism and Judgment to Rest -- Just because you weren't consulted or asked about a particular decision or plan, it doesn't mean it's wrong. If you foresee a risk or issue with a plan or decision, avoid negative criticism and instead offer solutions that might help mitigate the problem or risk at hand. Work to problem solve instead of making a potential problem worse.

Justifying your every move and decision in an effort to be seen as right (all while proving others wrong) takes a great deal of time and energy. But once the ego is silenced and you allow a little humility in, you will have lightened your load and be on your way to a happier, more meaningful life.