Valerie Netto

Horse Trainer Riding Instructor, American Riding Instructors Association

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How would we treat each other if we were not controlled by a need to be right?

We all have areas of life that we are passionate about like religion, politics and horse training. We all think we are right, marriages end, families are torn apart and through history we have died trying to prove it. Why, and if the saying "would you rather be right or would you rather be happy" appeals to so many of us why do we cling so tenaciously to the need to be right? HINT:
E veryone
G oes
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  • Dec 21 2011: There should not be a need to be right - merely to be happy in oneself, in your own choices and descisions - just to know who you are and what you believe. Thereby acceptance of others and their beliefs comes naturally :)
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      Dec 21 2011: Let me ask you a question, Jean......what do you think is the reason why people feel as though they need to be right?

      RELATED: I remember hearing this quote to remember when you're in a relationship fight: "Would you rather be Right, or would you rather be Happy? lol
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        Dec 22 2011: Acting out "being right" is a waste of my time. I'd rather be on a road to higher consciousness.
      • Dec 23 2011: Hi Richard. An interesting question. Just from previous experience and realationships...and this is just my opinion, I feel that people who have a need to be right have issues with insecurity. This could be due to a wide range of issues, but in having to prove you are right, to push your reasoning across to others above all else shows that the person cannot just accept their own beliefs as being good and right for them, as an individual - there is an overwhelming need to show everyone that they are knowledgeable, intelligent, worldy...... This could include feelings of needing to feel worthy, included and accepted within a circle of friends. What do you think?
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        Dec 23 2011: I think he means happier - not happy.
        in fact - I believe that there`s no right or wrong - there is only enjoy and pain.
        and if it doesn`t seem clearly - It`s just a little psychologically complicated.
        and people`s need to feel which they`re right is just because everyone seek for feeling the social supporting - because everyone seek for safety - because everyone want to gain "power".
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    Dec 31 2011: Valerie, we would probably treat each other with kindness, and we would be tolerant of others opinions. There is a place for being "right", when wrong exists. For example, driving down a one way street and seeing a car come will honk and put on your brights and try to get the person to realize he is endagering his life and others.

    Some of us are aware and know that we don't know everything.. we make an effort to be humble...but, still there are things within us that we know to be right. The trick is to be tactful, discreet, and cognicent of the following:

    "While our thinking colors all our experience, more often than not our thoughts tend to be less than completely accurate. Usually they are merely uninformed private opinions, reactions and prejudices based on limited knowledge and influenced primarily by our past conditioning. All the same, when not recognized as such and named, our thinking can prevent us from seeing clearly in the present moment. We get caught up in thinking we know what we are seeing and feeling. Just being familiar with this deeply entrenched pattern and watching it as it happens can lead to greater nonjudgmental receptivity and acceptance." J. Kabat-Zinn

    Great question. I thought you were right in asking it!!!
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      Dec 30 2011: Dear Ed,
      You have hit another nail on the head! Tolle, along with other sages, gurus, philosophers, psychologists, and teachers of many different practices, have given us this valuable information for centures.

      Your description of the process, which I agree with, reminds me of the cycle of violence and abuse - Wikipedia, the free

      In an attempt to be "right" we often see people demeaning and belittling others to appear to be more "correct", more "evolved", more "insightful", "smarter", "stronger"....and the list goes on and on. Abuse is often a componant in an effort to be "right". Of course, those who want to appear "right" don't see it that way because in their insecurity, thay are too busy trying to convince others of their "rightness". It is exactly as you and Tolle bring to light...thank you for the information:>)
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        Jan 6 2012: Great point. Ones fear of what they don't understand about someone else has led to violence all of humanity. Seeking positions of power thru, violence,segration,political gains, monitary gains, etc. are a result of a lack of knowledge and acceptance of another group. When we can see ourselves in every other person on earth, then there's no need to control or seek a position of power over anyone else. Takes a lot of courage to go against the conventional wisdom of your neighbors, churches, schools and family.
  • Dec 21 2011: I would much rather enter into a conversation with someone who needs to be right than someone who doesn't care. Not caring one way or the other leaves you nothing to debate or learn from.
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      Dec 21 2011: I have to say, I abhor apathy as well. I may get frustrated with people who seem to be closed-minded and stubborn about something, but those debates are the ones I always remember.
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        Dec 22 2011: Lori and Gina....

        Like anything else, I would suggest that it's all about balance. I remember hearing once that there is nothing more dangerous on this planet than the person who's 100%, absolutely sure that they are Right :-)
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      Dec 22 2011: I agree apathy is the most frustrating, but someone who insists on being right also has a flaw- what Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. I believe there is a third option- someone who engages in passionate dialogue with an open, or growth (Dweck), mindset. I think we would treat each other with much greater respect and empathy if we all worked on having a growth mindset (not saying I'm right- just my opinion).
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      Dec 22 2011: Is it really the case that if you don't wish to engage with a ego strong person that your are then apathetic. The Thai Chi masters teach one to not stand in resistance but to step out of the way of power and guide it away from you. It is easy to perceive an ego strong individual in the act of "being right". Why bother with such a person mirroring back the act of being right in an engagement of a power. There is much to learn from the Universe without engaging in a struggle for rightness.
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    Dec 12 2011: The need to be right is the need for the ego to be separate from others. When we judge something as either right or wrong, we automatically create space between us. The need to "know" is part of this need to judge others. All that is known is in the past. All that is unknown is in the future. Living in the known is living in the past and living in the unknown is living in the now.

    Acceptance of reality is peace. Finding peace in not knowing is the way of the calm, loving person. Judging others is not accepting them the way they are. Judging one's self is not accepting the self the way it is. Practicing unconditional self-acceptance, and then unconditional other-acceptance, brings back reality -- just the way it is.

    Encouraging our friends' inspirations is what I like. I work towards accepting them and loving them and what they do. I acknowledge their efforts with the goal of helping them to blossom into the creative force that is their own genius. My genius is mine and yours is yours. In spite of our perceived differences, we are both right if we're following our own creative impulses.

    Variety is the spice of life. For it is our differences that help us to move beyond ourselves. Our differences spark discussion, cooperation, collaboration, creativity, and challenge our "beliefs." Celebrating our differences is a mark of our humanity. Pluralism is the name given to it.

    Humble ignorance is a greater force than arrogant righteousness. The one who is righteous lives in shame and fear. The righteous perceives self-worth only when they, or others, are "right." Desperately protecting the self's righteousness becomes primary over all other goals.

    Attaching one's identity to their righteousness is a dangerous game. When the self-righteous individual is wrong or wronged, they lash out at others or the self. Violence, self-downing, and dictators are the result.

    Vive la difference.
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      Dec 12 2011: Thank you Scott! My feelings exactly! The whole intention behind my question was to see how many would respond with love or with defense or to miss the message altogether. I really only want to get us thinking of the possibilities we are capable of as the beings we truly are! You fill me with hope!
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    Dec 25 2011: We all have hates and prejudices that are based on lack of knowledge and understanding. Through the invention of cars, planes, and passengerships the world has become smaller. Through travel and personal observation many of the myths have been debunked. We no longer live in the shadow of kings and royal blood, church rulers that demanded total obediance or death, or in fear of witch hunters. Today I acknowledge what works for me and will share that if you ask. I do have opinions, however I will revise them if given sufficient or compelling reason. So in the end I agree that the EGO, fear, and ignorance are the true enemies.

    One last thought .... Sites like TED have allowed us all to grow. I have not seen any conversation where a demand to a personal view has been made. I learn from each of you and thank you.
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      Dec 25 2011: Thank you too Robert, for this illuminating comment, all of which I strongly agree with...except...the idea that we "all have hates and prejudices...". I believe that is a choice that some of us do not make:>)

      AND...I hope this is not really your "one last thought" because I appreciate your insight:>)
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        Dec 25 2011: Some hates and prejudices are certainly not of our choice. If you are the child of a member of the KKK you would most likely be indoctrinated from birth. Some religions believe that if you are not among us you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Some American tribes told their children that the white man would eat them if they were caught. A major religion in the world states that if you are not a believer you must die. Up until the age of accountability many choices are made for us ... or at least are guiding influences. After the age of accountability I agree that we either continue or we accept hates and prejudices. We also have the choice to discard that which we find objectionable. Phrases such as, "Born to it"; "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"; all indicate that influences exist in our (and others) lives. And thanks for your comments.
        • Dec 25 2011: We are as much of a product of our environment as much of what out being defines ourselves. Love, right, hate, and wrong all words that we choose to give meaning towards even though most of us are so blind to the extent of the true meanings. We are simple beings that may accept or discard the world around us , but in both scenarios where the just is met, it will effect us either way. This does not mean it is a direct hit for we always have control on the greatest defense of holy and wicked actions, our minds. No matter what age we are, our mind can use its defenses to block such influences; therefore if one lets the cradle rock, then, even though I am truly blind to such subtle things, I can still know that it is rocking.
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          Dec 25 2011: Robert,
          I can only speak from my own experiences and the experiences of people I know. I was the child of a hateful, prejudice, racist father, and those are the messages I was given by him from birth. However, as a young adult, I made different choices because I understood his fear. I was also brought up in a catholic environment...12 years of catholic school and indoctrination, in which I was taught that we (catholics) would enter the kingdom of heaven, and everyone else was going to hell. I also saw the fear in that belief even as a young child. There is no doubt that there is hate and prejudice abundant in our world. However, I believe that as thinking, feeling adults, we have the ability to make choices, and on that we seem to agree.:>)
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    Dec 22 2011: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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    Dec 21 2011: Deepak Chopra says: To truly find inner peace we must release the need to defend our opinions.

    I try and practice this, and have to say, I am not a " Ms. Right" person by nature. However I am human and do feel challenged at times by the thoughts and questions of others. So, I do my best to not "react", instead, reflect and consider, then move forward. And, I am also not a Buddhist Monk, and in some cases, after evaluation will conclude to myself alone, that another person may be full of it, and I am " independent of the good or bad opinions of others, and beneath no one." Another quote from Deepak.

    I am, we are human. Forgiveness and Acceptance are practices that are much needed in society today I feel. Releasing the need to defend the opinion of the ego, actually does bring inner peace. Try it.

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    Dec 21 2011: I haven't read everyone's post, but I figured I should respond since I work with horses and you're a trainer and riding instructor. :) I do volunteer work to help end the heinous and illegal practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses, which is the process of causing pain to a horse's front limbs so he will lift his legs higher in the show ring. Unfortunately, in that community, the people have been raised to believe that soring and abusing horses is the right way to train them and that everyone else should just leave them alone. So maybe sometimes we have to know what's right first in order to defend being right. I believe it is right to treat others with respect and fairness, including our animal brethren, for they are living beings just as we are. But many people think that animals are "just animals" and don't deserve good treatment. They should do their jobs and suffer for it if they have to. Which of us is right? I would hope all of us would think that animal abuse is wrong, but that isn't necessarily true.

    As far as clinging to the need to be right, I think some people believe, whether consciously or not, that they are a failure if they're wrong. I have struggled with it myself in my life--I come from a very intelligent family where it was assumed that being wrong is a social faux pas. But my family and I have learned that no, we don't have to be right all the time. Plus I have learned that for many people, it is impossible to show them they're wrong because they refuse to see it--they can't see past the end of their own nose, so to speak. It's a personal issue in my opinion--the need to be right is a personal struggle for various people. They have to choose to understand that even when you know you're right, even though you are saying the sky is blue and the other person is vehemently screaming that the sky is black, it's okay to walk away and accept that the other person is not willing to open their mind to other possibilities.
  • Dec 21 2011: I think at the deep root level it is the age old question : What is real ?. We naively believe that the world ''I'' see is the world that IS.
    But it is not true, we see the world differently. What's the point of arguing then ?
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    Jan 4 2012: Actively listen with non-judgment to provide the space for others to discover and follow their own truth.
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    Dec 26 2011: If you need to be right, you are wasting your time in learning what others can teach you.

    There is no universal right, but logic.
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      Dec 26 2011: I agree Luis Javier López Arredondo,
      If we think we need to be "right" we are wasting our time, because we are all teachers and students in this earth school. The sooner we realize this, the better for all of us:>)
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    Dec 26 2011: Well said Colleen,
    The key in any discussion is the purpose for which is made. If the other end is confrontational and is doing it just for the purpose of proving a point it does not lead to any healthy discussion. Good ideas only generate when there is healthy exchange of ideas.
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    Dec 23 2011: In a nutshel - with respect, honesty and parity!
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    Dec 23 2011: The right way to control each other is by the way of taking a back foot whenevar there is any type of confrontation. Easy said then done coz the biggest barrier which is there in doing so is 'EGO'.

    But leading by example should be the firm belief and one should hold it firm in mind that going in back foot does not mean defeat. A expert in martial arts would run avoid a weak player is not because he/ she is afraid but does not intend to cause harmful injuries.
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      Dec 23 2011: Dear Neel,
      Well said, I like your comparison to Martial arts, and I agree that an expert generally wants to avoid harmful injuries. Another way to look at it, is that one core belief of martial arts, is to yield, and come from the core with strength. When people get confrontational, and seem aggresive in their need to be "right", I simply yield to that behavior, because in my heart and mind, I know what my truth is, and that is my strength. It doesn't matter if someone wants to control a discussion. If s/he is not willing to hear my perspectives, the discussion is all theirs:>)
  • Dec 22 2011: The older I get, the more I can see what I don't know. When I was 18 (1969), my views were right, and clearly defined. If you agreed with me, we were sisters and brothers in arms against the rest of the world that didn't agree with us. Otherwise, you were against us.
    Now, I love not knowing, because the possibility of learning something new is my greatest joy! I mean, seriously, who could have ever imagined, back in the '60's, that Bob Dylan would have become a born-again-christian-jew! Or that Jane Fonda, just home from North Vietnam, would have become a gazillionaire excercise guru. These are just 2 things I would have said, "NEVER". And so many others that I could not have believed with my TINY mind. Some people resent change and realizing that things are rarely as simple as we would like, and just dig-in and hold fast to old ideas, becoming bitter, especially against youth and their ideals.
    It's very freeing to not have to pretend to know everything, and welcome corrections of thought. I now realized that I actually learn something from everyone. It may not seem true, or kind, or happy, but it's my choice what to do with it. At 60, I wake up excited to see what is going on now, saying "C'mon, world, show me something I don't know!" And it does!
    • Dec 22 2011: Absolutely (ironic choice of word)...and that "who" you were and the "who" they were...were and are abstract and fluid self constructed concepts...the entire framework of "I" seems solid and constant...but actually is very nebulous. Just ask someone that has had a brain tumor (me) or someone that has rehabilitated after a stroke. The very brains that we "reason" with are subject to change without notice...and thus "I" am and so is what "I" believe to be "right"! Curiouser and curiouser.....go as Alice...hmmmm
  • Dec 22 2011: There is immense power in coming out of yourself (own ego) and saying: "YOU'RE RIGHT.", without any 'buts'/'howevers' added. It's one of the hardest things for the ego to articulate, but leaves the other person feeling happy, good, less defensive/offensive, and probably more willing to listen and connect with you.
  • Dec 21 2011: Being one of Landmark Education graduates, I had the opportunity to experience one of the main distinctions presented during the event; being right and being wrong. I learned that these two forces are actually what drive human actions and interactions in general. There is nothing wrong with being right or wrong, that's just called being human. Now, that's not to say that it's ok to be wrong about something and not actually correct it. Being one way or the other allows us as human beings to create possibilites for living that wouldn't have existed before. For example, the most common word used in most of the comments posted here is "acceptance". Acceptance is one way of being that can make a difference in how we treat each other. This way of being wouldn't have existed if the need for being right wasn't there.

    Good and bad, sad and happy, right and wrong are ways that people choose to live by everyday that we really can't change. However, human beings always have the powerful ability to choose. We can choose being understanding, we can choose to listen for the gold in what people say, we can choose to forgive, we can choose to forget and we can choose to accept people for the way they are and the way they're not.

    Don't reply because I know I'm right! Are you willing to listen? :)
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    Dec 21 2011: If we are able to listen to our EGO, and accept our shadows.. then we ´d live in a state of compassion towards us, others, everything on the planet and beyond. There would be no "right or wrong", "good or bad".. it would be the end of "dualism". We would accept, protect, understand and love one another.. after accepting, protecting, working understanding and loving our own selves.
  • Dec 21 2011: I think that generally we aren't taught how to be wrong. By this I mean the following, usually discovering or being told that you are wrong results in embarrassment and a triggers a base need to protect yourself. That does truly fire up the ego and make you more determined to defend your position and closing down the ability to explore another's views. It would serve us to know what the OTHER way to behave is.

    My personal approach to this has been to adopt one of the seven habits popularized by Steven Covey and that is, first seek to understand then to be understood. (It took me heaps of practice to put my ego one side to do this and still don't always get it right :)

    My other observation is that people (myself included) often link disagreement to disapproval. In other word if someone doesn't hold my view they don't like me. This is inevitably not the case once the issues are explored.

    Now to the question, How would we treat each other. I would imagine that we would be far more gentle with each other, considerate and compassionate. I found that once I got out of the judging game and took more of an observer role I came to understand behavior better. To be clear this doesn't mean that I accept or approve of all behavior after all I still have my ego. But I choose whether I want to adopt a thinking and if I don't it ends there. I am not on a crusade to convince everyone of my point of view.

    And if I am with people who don't share my values I choose not to spend time with them.

    Great topic. Thanks
    • Dec 21 2011: I have one caveat/question: when others can't see that disagreeing IS disapproval & non-acceptance, what then? I mean obviously, you accept that that's the case, but what happens to the relationship/argument? Many people believe that they can still be intimate under those circumstances, even though by definition, their intent and actions are harm-full.
      I think I see other people just allowing others to be "right" in the belief that they *are* intimate, while in reality they are not. What do you think/do? Especially when, under those circumstances, some continue to violate the resulting boundary? I think behavioral & developmental psychology practices have to come into order, meaning penalties and reinforcement, etc., but how does that fit in with the concept of compassion? I guess it comes down to "parenting" in the relationship (and buddhism would approve, I think), but it makes me feel like I think less of people i have to deal with that way and I know I am more taxed by that than "should" be necessary in what I would think of as a loving or reciprocal relationship. As a result, I resent the dynamic and have to remind myself to think of them as children-- it's a cycle--ugh! But others seem to *say* that that is natural and and okay way to live!! gulp!! the terror of my life is the prospect of spending it in relationships like that.
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    Dec 21 2011: I really enjoy thinking about a world where everyone is humble and appreciate of the Earth and Humanity.

    I could be wrong though, but that is ok.
  • Dec 19 2011: As to my experience the most vulnerable insecure people are those who think they are right, they do know .
    They are driven insatiably to 'prove their point' and even more they are driven to expand their point.
    Why ? I guess because EGO is forever insecure, as all fabrications it strives to be real, big, powerful, needs to be right!
    Maybe uncertainty is the only certainty we should have to stay in peace, to stay open.

    Thanks, Valerie for bringing this conversation on TED.
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    Dec 19 2011: In my experience, I have learned this; My need or desire to construct a false personification of myself to others, or to myself, alone. Ultimately, we cherish this false perception of who we are and what we know, more than we cherish our relationship with others. We are willing to humiliate and prove others wrong in order to bolster the weak perception we have of ourselves. It is a deep aggression, you could even call it anger, or self-righteous indignation. It is not healthy, it is not becoming, and it sure is not natural. It comes from a lack of self confidence, self esteem...self love. Aggressive action is always preceded by fear. Think about it.Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is only my humble opinion. If these words find a home within your heart accept them and think on them, contemplate the good and caring words that seek a receptive soul. If these words found no warm welcome within you, then ignore them and move along, obviously they are not meant for you. Believe me, though, I have not come to argue, but welcome all objective debate. I want healthy relationships and good company. I grew tired of sitting alone with the trophy of the 'bragger's rights'. And those that enjoy sitting alone with their rewards were not the companions I had been seeking. I would rather be happy. this is a good question, Valerie. Thanks
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    Dec 14 2011: Take a moment and think about a time that you were absolutely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that your position was right. Most commonly you can expect this to be about a political or religious ideal that you have extreme conviction about.

    The key word here, I believe, is conviction. When we are absolutely convinced as to our convictions it becomes terribly difficult to see the world as if we were looking through other people's eyes.

    Take a moment and think about a topic that you are extremely convinced about.

    Now spend a moment and actually consider that the other side may truly be right about this. ACTUALLY consider this and why their position may be correct, but without adapting their conviction.

    This is an uncomfortable place to be in at first, in this position of uncertainty, however it is a position of cultivating empathy and compassion.

    By releasing our strong sense of conviction in this manner we can become comfortable with our uncertainty.

    And we can become more capable of truly seeing the world with compassion, through the eyes of others.
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      Dec 14 2011: I guess the reason I asked this question in part because of the terrible growing division between political parties which divides us as a nation/species. It has become a venue for spreading fear and loathing. All I can say is in my 55 years of life I have seen 10 presidents in office. I have known many, many people who were of every voting status, religion, race and gender, and in every group the folks were for the most part, kind,caring and Intelligent. And the fact that I have survived comfortably all my 55 years, I have to believe that every president and party will bring good and not so good to our country. It comes down to how each of us views our own existence I suppose. We can choose to change what we can, and bless and let go of that which we cannot, and in a life of uncertainty we can only live in the moment, appreciate who & what we have right now because any moment could be our last.
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        Dec 14 2011: "We can choose to change what we can, and bless and let go of that which we cannot, and in a life of uncertainty we can only live in the moment, appreciate who & what we have right now because any moment could be our last."

        Very well said. I liked reading your thoughts on this.

        I was reminded of one of my favorite quotations -

        “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
        ― Mahatma Gandhi
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    Jan 8 2012: Good question. Got me thinking about how I interact with friends, work colleagues and family.

    Suggest males are more likely to push their view, fix a problem, fix perceived ignorance. Knowledge, knowing, being right seems to be related to social pecking order. Females seem to be less combative in general. Maybe some nurture drivers but probably a lot of nature.

    Ever notice a conversation between a bunch of men talking about, sports, politics or whatever. Contradicting each other, pointing out fallacies, expressing contrary opinions etc.

    I'll scan through the comments for an informed evolutionary/social perspective.

    Agree with themes that the search for truth and knowledge can be aided by debate, but we/I sometimes go too far.
  • Dec 31 2011: Hello Valerie. A great topic for discussion here. A few commentators here apparently feel a need to be right. Many others seem like great models of tolerance!

    Learning involves listening. So IF we desire to learn we must listen to the "inner" of a person and that often means self restraint, which also could include hesitating before jumping onto the computer keys. A friend once waited three weeks before answering a question. That taught me a great lesson; to think before speaking.

    I agree with many of the superb responses to your great question and resulting conversations.

    I would add one more aspect that means a great deal to me: I like the narrative of Jesus' life found in Part IV of The Urantia Book (Urantia Foundation. The modeling he gave us for the question you bring is worthy of consideration for all relationship aspects of life including family, work, communities, nations, religious, political, education----everythiing. The one most prominent feature of his personality, for me, is graciousness.

    What I learned of graciousness is it comes from a love saturated soul within. We learn grace, but graciousness stems from love. With all the love capability I can offer from self at this moment, I recommend an honest study of his life from this resource. I do belief that this study would marvelously address your question.

    His graciousness was due to many realities, one of which is personal will. If we are indeed sovereign over our individual will (he knew), then we can see one reason why Jesus was gracious in allowing people to see the better way in relating to one another. Likely there are other many very good reasons for being gracious, some of which emerged from this conversation.

    He also knew of the guiding Spirit fragment of God within persons. Hence, will and listen became important for him and now us.

    You are so kind to give us all this opportunity to think about this question.

    Happy New Year!
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      Jan 6 2012: The love Jesus possed in him that guided him, is in all of us as well. some are just unable to see it. Not a knock on Jesus, just a simple truth he would agree with. Peace.
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    Dec 27 2011: Being "right" is often an integral part of a belief system, which is taught to people when they are young by others who have the same or similar beliefs. These beliefs then become core values, which, when violated, threaten a persons understanding of the world. I'm wondering if the need to be "right" is the same as defending one's belief system. There are many behaviors that people engage in thoughtlessly. A lot of people are unconscious in their daily lives. I posit the inverse of your question by asking if we are truly capable of understanding or forgiveness? If we are truly capable of understanding another's beliefs but find it unnecessary to change those beliefs, or if we are truly capable of forgiveness, then the need to be right no longer controls our motivation.
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      Jan 6 2012: Great key point in Jennifer's comment:
      We all have belief systems that serve us or ...don't. Whether they do or do not, they are part of our cellualr structure. Nurturing those fundamentals: forgiveness, empathy, love, understanding... this takes time, effort and work.
      being able to forgive-each other and ourselves
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    Dec 27 2011: Education system...hmmm...very good Don.
    Your right, no they are not the product of an educational system, because if it were, I would be sorely disappointed and I would have views similar to yours, whatever they are.
    I can see an average man's reaction to my comments above. I understand the vagueness and quite frankly, frightening nature of the comment. Please Don, don't be surprised by the comment's language which I admit is very vague. What I was trying to convey was that even a murderer has a goal in life you know, and to reach that goal he will do anything. I was trying to eliminate this idea of right and wrong, of good and evil, of light and dark. This may seem overtly spiritual but in the end it has to be. I was trying to explain the example - a very bad example it seems considering your reply - I was using to say that there is no such concept of right and wrong, it is only the result of a society.
    As to what your beliefs are, I don't know and frankly don't want to know.
    But still, thank you for updating me on the vagueness of my comment.
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    Dec 26 2011: The more I treat others with appreciation the better.

    For example, I asked my yoga class, with members having diverse ethnicities, to accept that I was expressing mutual joy and goodwill even though I would use phrases uncharacteristic to some cultures as I sang, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Surprisingly, the only objection I received was from a Christian, who asked, “Just what in that song is uncharacteristic to my culture?”
    I responded, “The phrase, ‘let your heart be light,’ meant let your heart be an illumination.”
    My response mimics the yoga instructor’s statement ending each practice: My light bows to your light.

    Appreciation varies with the extent of sharing. When the other party expresses a preference I reject, I empathetically express opposition. For example, a very close friend said he must reprimand his adult, married son for not following his culture, I remarked that his son must mature in a time my friend and I cannot imagine. He must respect his son’s culture. I then asked him to read Kahlil Gibran, “On Children.” See online at .My friend said he treasured that poetry and thanked me for reminding him of his commitment to simply love his son and daughter-in-law. I was able to have this conversation because I appreciate my friend.

    When a friend points out how universally applicable his tradition is, I point to a new way to look at it and reiterate my faith in the truth much of which is unknown. For example, just today, a friend said that for Christians, history began some 2000 to 4000 years ago, but for his culture it began almost 10,000 years ago. I pointed out that tools from some 1.8 million years ago have been discovered, and the people who made those tools probably communicated from generation to generation. We happily agreed there is more to it than we know.

    It takes appreciation to converse on the other party's subject.
    • Dec 27 2011: Phillip, let me share with you my theory of what our roles are in this world. Maybe, it could afford a new perspective on the question of being right.

      If you watch National Geographic, you may have come across an episode where there are these birds who live on cliffs and build nests there. Everyday, these birds will go fishing in the sea beneath and carry the fish to their nest to feed their chicks. However, not all these birds will be successful in completing this task, because there is another species of bird living within the space which will rob the fish off some of these birds. So, if we were to moralized this scene the way religious believers do, we will say that the naughty birds which robbed the poor birds and deprived the latter's chicks from being fed are sinful birds by normal religious rules, these sinful birds will need to destined to go to Hell. But some would argue that non-human beings are just resources for the human kind and that the human kind is superior etc etc because they can control the environment. But if you look at it rationally, we are just one of the species in this world, no different from birds, tigers, ants etc etc, just that we play a different role. What this role is in the jigsaw puzzle I don't know.

      My second point is, just like birds, the human kind have also "robbers" who are out there "terrorrising" the other human beings. For me , I would not label them as sinners, because they are part of the ecosystem and plays a role in ensuring the ecosystem is sustained.

      So back to the question of what is right? Is the act of robbing right or wrong? Wrong if you are the victim, right for the robbers, because they need to either feed themselves or feed their family,...

      Having said, this I will still try to ensure I am not a victim, just like I won't be the first gazelle to be at the edge of the pond that is infested with crocodiles.
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        Dec 27 2011: kwang,
        I am reminded of my 37 year old daughter, when she left her job on one morning last week because her boss would not stop badgering her for being late to work that morning. She left with a migraine headache and called for advice about whether to go back for her personal items she left under the circumstance. I advised her to get rest and relief from the headache and let the items go until the next day.

        I went on to write an essay about conduct in that crocodile pond. I feel she is naturally kind, empathetic, and focused. Nevertheless, she must survive the crocodiles, so next day, recognize that she is entering a swarm of crocodiles but when she departs at the end of the day the crocks will marvel at her kindness, empathy, and focus.

        She's home on holiday until the New Year and lots of fun and has not mentioned the work incident.

        Each human is on a path with the potential to improve from the contradictions they were born into and rise to their natural goodness. We can appreciate each person for contending with their path and sharing with us a description of where they are at this moment in time. If it is a person who has been brainwashed to martyrdom but is questioning it, we can assure them that they are too precious for sacrifice and help them escape their school.

        Birds of prey do not have the ability to help each other in the same way humans can.

        I hope your environment offers you some relief from the sense that everything is about survival. For this reason, I also continually advise my daughter to seek a new job.
  • Dec 26 2011: Valerie, I believe your question will never have the RIGHT answer mainly because "Right" and "Happy" are abstract and relative; because it is impossible to clearly define what constitute "Right" and "Happy" there will always be disagreements. For example, you hinted that one has gone overboard to be right, may I ask how does one know when one has gone overboard? How do you measure? Isn't the conclusion of overboard that of one party? If you ask the other party it would have said that it has not gone overboard. Finally, definitions of Right and Happy are dynamic and changes with time, what makes one "happy" or "right" now may not be in the future, even to the SAME person !!
  • Dec 24 2011: Our personality is a function of:
    the model of the self
    the model of the self in the world, and
    the model of the world
    These models are developed as a part of our learning as we grow. If these learnings happen in an environment which fans our ego then "being right" is very important to us
    This is something I know from my personal experience and therefore my views may or may not be generally applicable.
    I was raised in a vertical society where these "needs to be right" are more strong than in the horizontal societies." I am the head of the family so I am right" kind of stuff.
    I noticed a few years ago that this "need to be right" is so strong in me that when i am debating something with someone, I feel agitated, angry and very strong when I am being contradicted. As a consequence, people would sometime stop debating. My face would turned red.
    I knew that something was wrong. I read a lot of stuff about it and figured out that I was full of ego and myself. As a cure, I needed to:
    a. challenge my own assumptions and
    b. think critically about my thoughts
    I have been practising these for the last couple of years and I am so much better than I was. I also found out that a. is the best way to train your brain. But let us not change topic here.
    I would like to end my view on this quote:
    “There are no facts only perception.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche
    Perception is a function of power and not truth. When you are in power (or feel you are in power), your perception rules (and others perceptions are just fallacious) and hence the "need to be right".
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    Dec 24 2011: Hi Colleen.
    I think that limits come from fear. Fear of the void, fear of unknown ...

    When we are full of fears wetry to reassure ourself by being determined to show how far we're right.

    It can lead us to be agressive to despotic.

    Trying to be right is a way to have a strong direction, a kind of rope we don't want to let go, anxious about what could happen to us.

    Talking with you Colleen lead me to realize that trying to be right is more than having convictions : it's trying to impose them so to make sure that, soon, another person will think like us. Which seems to reassure us a lot, but which is also a neverending process.

    In a way, trying to be right is proportional to our level of anxiety. Poor dictators ...

    Looking at your profile seems to validate a bit my vision : because of your near death experience, you, Colleen, are not afraid anymore. You had let it go, focusing on living deeply each second of your life.

    By being open hearted/minded, you accept life and all the opportunities it can bring to you. You accept differences, changes etc... As a consequence, it seems that you design your life like a learning process that leads every of your relatives to participate to an increasing collective intelligence

    That's a great class you're giving to us Colleen. Thanks for the gift ;-).
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      Dec 25 2011: Dear Laurent,
      Thank you for your very kind words and perception.

      I agree that fear of the unknown limits us in many ways, one of which is trying to prove we are "right" so we don't have to face the unknown! In doing that, however, we are "anxious", and we hold onto that rope and don't let go, as you insightfully say. It is our "safety rope"...or so we think:>) The only thing it does, is limits us and we deprive ourselves of information...seems silly to me!

      I believe we can have convictions, without trying to convince everyone else that our convictions are the "right" ones...good point! I agree..."trying to be "right" is proportional to our level of anxiety". That gives us information about a person we are conversing with early in the interaction.

      Yes, I firmly believe that life is a learning process that can be a "collective"'s a choice:>)
  • Dec 24 2011: Not being bothered about being right is like saying ignorance is bliss. Happiness is meaningless if it is the happiness of the uniformed. Human beings are endowed with the faculty to judge what is right and wrong howsoever wrong the right may be. We choose, we select, we opt all the time from a sense of exercising our free will. People who cannot make their choices will be left to the mercy of those who do make a choice. The moment we start worrying to the point of being unable to decide, that will be the end of happiness howsoever stable our relationships are, how well our horses are trained or how wholesome our religious beliefs are. Ego is not where everyone goes overboard, ego is where everyone is onboard. As human beings, we need to develop our sense of fairness to all as we preserve our individual egos. That is what social being is; that is where we need to develop our collective will.
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      Dec 24 2011: Hi Shekhar,
      Your comment is a common perception regarding those of us who choose to discuss/debate in a non-confrontational way...we can't be "bothered"..."ignorance is bliss"...we are "uninformed"...

      I totally agree with you that we "choose, we select, we opt all the time from a sense of exercising our free will". So, do you understand that those of us who choose not to be confrontational are simply making that choice, rather than being ignorant or uninformed? I realize that some people are stimulated with trying to be "right". I realize that some people love that kind of discussion/debate, and I respect the choice those people make. However, that behavior does not entice me into discussion, because I know right away that a person who needs to be "right" is not even going to listen to my feelings, thoughts, ideas, opinions or perspectives.

      As a child, I witnessed my father, who always needed to be "right", and with his "rightness", he belittled, demeaned, abused and violated people all the time. I saw him as a very insecure person who constantly pushed people away from him. I decided as a child that I didn't want to be like that. I wanted to genuinely connect with people on many different levels, and that is how I live my life. I consider myself well informed, intelligent, and enthusiastic about learning new things. I also have no desire to be "right".

      Could I engage in confrontational dialogue? Yes. I was a professional actor for several years. I know how to play many different roles, and I know how to argue, discuss, debate with judgement and anger toward another person. My father was one of the best teachers in that respect. I make a choice regarding how I interact with people, and because I choose to be open hearted/open minded, does not mean I am less informed, ignorant, or cannot make a choice. It actually means I am very aware of the choice I am making in every moment.
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          Dec 24 2011: Pierre,
          It is clear that we have different opinions on this subject, and as I've told you several times, it is not pleasurable for me to go round and round in confrontational circles. Good luck with finding your "deeper understanding" with another participant.
      • Dec 25 2011: The problem you describe is that of an authoritarian relationship. That kind of relationship often masquerades as a relationship of love purported to be based on equality. There is a hidden dominance which takes the form of righteousness (the sense of "I am Right"). I totally agree with you about the oppressive character of such a relationship which leads to the misery of oppression and at times, unhappiness to the oppressor as well. Fortunately for me, I never personally suffered from impositions of this kind.
        All of us should devote more attention to developing a sense of fairness in all relationships and transactions, social or otherwise. For some strange reasons, human thinkers have given more importance to love and barely any to fairness. It always takes two to tango. If a dance is to be enjoyed, there has to be a fair balance between the partners.
        My desire to be right comes more from the desire for knowledge, the desire to not to be wrong; because being wrong can be the source of all injustice in the world. But when being right is only about pampering one's ego, I entirely agree with you; it is a major cause of unhappiness in the world.
        I have often wondered if "being right" is also a social psychological phenomenon when groups of people fight wars to impose one's will on another. When they are not fighting wars, they are busy nurturing hatred.
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          Dec 25 2011: Shekhar,
          I appreciate your thoughtful comment, and agree that the relationship I described above was "authoritarian". The same dominance and righteousness takes form in any argument when one person needs to prove him/herself "right". There are many diffferent levels of this behavior, from the dominance of a parent over a child, to the dominance of one person over another in a TED conversation, and many levels in between. I totally agree with you about the "oppressive character" of such relationships as well, which is why I do not choose to interact with those who use this method of discussion/ is an attempt to feel "better" and more of an "authority" then the other person, and in my perception, serves no useful purpose. I also agree that the oppressor is usually unhappy in his/herself, which is a thread that runs through several comments on this thread...a person who needs to depend on being "right", is usually insecure in him/her "self".

          I totally agree..."it takes two to tango, and if the dance is to be enjoyed, there has to be a fair balance between the partners"...I LOVE that:>) You see? That is another reason I do not engage in confrontational, abusive, discussions. When a person feels s/he needs to be "right", it simply is not enjoyable. As I said in the previous comment, I CAN behave in that manner, and I know that it is not enjoyable, so I choose not to do that to myself.

          You say your "desire to be right comes more from the desire for knowledge, the desire to not be wrong". If we are genuinely seeking knowledge, wouldn't we be open to recieving new information, rather than trying to prove ourselves "right"? I agree that sometimes, when people are not fighting , they are busy nurturing hatred, which also stems from fear and insecurity.
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    Dec 23 2011: hey Colleen. It seems that, each time you comment my words, you make me dig a little more into my own perception of things and make me know a little bit more about myself;-). I really like that.

    so, what would be our society if we were just saying things without trying to be right ? Everybody would say what he thinks in a participative behavior but without controversy, evreybody accepting other's ideas and difference of point of view.

    I guess nothing would really raise from this because I think that innovation , progress, moves and changes comes from opposition, debate and confrontation. Without conviction and willing to be right, I'm not sure we really improve ourself. Just because trying to be right needs commitment and convictions.

    Let me know your thoughts. No offense If I don't answer in the hour to come. It's late in France and I'm a little tired.
    Waiting for you post by the way.
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      Dec 23 2011: EXACTLY!!!
      I believe that when/if we discuss/debate with respect to one another, the conversations cause us to "dig a little more into my own perception of things and make me know a little bit more about myself;-)".

      I, of course do not "make you" do anything. You are making the choice to do whatever you want with information I provide...just like I do whatever I want with information you provide. I choose to be open hearted and open minded because it feels like a gift to myself. I honestly don't know why people deprive themselves of getting more information because they are "stuck" with a certain belief. We can use the information any way we choose...accept it as our truth...reject it...ponder it....etc. etc. etc. When we are open to recieving, the possibilities are unlimited. When we think we need to be "right" we actually limit our "self".

      Yes! How about if we all accept each others ideas and different point of view? Again, we don't have to accept the new ideas as our own, but how about if we are respectful of others' ideas? I agree that opposition, debate and confrontation CAN be innovative, progressive and motivational. I also believe that we may be able to create the same innovation, progress and motivation by being kind and respectful to one another....what do you think? Actually, I think/feel there would be a LOT more information available to us if we were more open hearted/open minded. What might happen if we pooled all relevant information? That could be very powerful? I've had commitment and convictions my whole life, and I feel like my life is constantly and excitedly evolving:>)

      Just my thoughts:>)
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    Dec 23 2011: I believe this is what is referred to as the God complex most people would rather die than admit that they could be wrong.
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    Dec 23 2011: As scientist I am skeptic about everything, and I ask myself if this is also a way of believe, although I feel that I have more questions than answers to everything. I find what Nicolas said is very powerful, even if we don't like it. Our need to be right could be determined by a sense of security derived from our "safe" model of the world (the model provided by our core of believes). If someone try to argue something that let us know we are not right, then our model of the universe will brake down, and a feeling of unsafeness comes next. Well, is just an opinion without any study. I would like to read about by some experts on human behavior like psychologists, sociologist, etc.
  • Dec 22 2011: In my opinion the role of our core beliefs is central. Core beliefs help us stay sane, and make sense of a world which may look pointless to an astrophysicist. When something conflicts with any of these beliefs, we have a choice to make: either we decide to stick with that belief, or we don't. If we stick with the belief, an argument ensues, and depending on the strength of the conflict, the belief may or may not be destroyed.
    To me, this is more about keeping a healthy mental structure. Our subconscious is much more powerful than our conscious; we might not be aware of the particular belief we are defending, but we know that we have to. If another belief, more powerful or universal than the one we have, is brought to our attention, we might decide that it is a better one and use that one instead.
    'Ego' is a categorization of the manifestation of strong beliefs. I would argue that it is not because one cannot explain why their belief is true that it means their ego is the issue. Their ego protects them from becoming temporarily lost.
    Happiness is the next stage. Sanity comes first, that is why we have this need to be right. One cannot be insane and happy at the same time.
    • Dec 23 2011: That can totally happen.
      • Dec 26 2011: You may be right. This isn't a core belief of mine, so no argument will ensue ;)
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      Dec 23 2011: A very nice post! I did not however intend that we have to change or give up our beliefs only be able to have them in peace, without the argument. :)
      • Dec 26 2011: I believe the argument arises because we cannot identify the belief that is being challenged, and therefore cannot handle it rationally - and without rational control, our emotions go haywire :)...
        It is an interesting debate!
  • Dec 22 2011: There are two issues within this question the thread has been mixing...and real progress can only be made when separated.
    The first is...what drives the need to be right?
    The second is...who, how, what determines absolute right?

    Don't be so hard on people that are driven to be right, they are hardwired that way! Whether you believe by evolution or by design it makes perfect sense that in order to survive in a very dangerous environment, a blessed absurdness relieved intense anxiety. For instance, once a hunter felt sure of the lay-of-the-land, his heart rate could return to normal, since the sense that a saber-tooth was behind every bush and rock diminished. It is this sense of calm due to a feeling of having a firm grip on reality that allows us to live our day to day lives without constantly dwelling on the hard grim reality of impending doom and death. NO ONE gets out alive...but do we want to think about that constantly? So, it may be said that we are DESPERATE to maintain the illusion that we have it ALL figured out, just so we can calmly get on with it! We cannot seem to endure dissonance for any length of time, those of us that engage in routine intellectual exercises seem to have developed a way to compartmentalize our thinking so we can do so without our anxiety levels going through the roof. Many people can't...they simply freakout. Once you realize the anxiety your constant questioning causes can relax a little yourself and attempt a kinder, gentler approach to discussions. People cling to foundational beliefs and "rightness", not because they are lazy or stupid...but because they are hardwired to do so.
    Truth (what is right) is another topic altogether. It is where you find it!. Often we do not as yet have enough evidence to point us toward it,but it still IS. I want it, even if it hurts...but many simply prefer happiness, or relief from any rate, it is elusive and seldom definitive, but that doesn't dissuade those that pursue i
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      Dec 23 2011: So now I ask, is it impossible to express something that is correct without fire? The Dahli Llama is able to make suggested correction to perception without punching and name calling. Why can't everyone?
  • Dec 22 2011: If we were not so driven to be right perhaps we would not rush to post our opinions so strongly on blogs ...
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      Dec 23 2011: Good one! I use that as an exercise in self! When some post gets me boiling I take that moment to evaluate my reaction. I find a place for it, and bless it and let it go. It has been working pretty well for me! Can't say I always succeed, but I am trying!
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    Dec 22 2011: I can believe I am right. Others may not. No problem.
    From this patient mindset we can both discuss the issue that concerns us both,
    without fighting. It may take longer than fighting.
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    Dec 22 2011: We would act like animals, probably poke each others eyeballs out, and steal food! "Give me liberty or give me death." I feel like that quote pretty much sums up your Q Valerie. Hows the weather out in Cali these days? Let me guess, sunny!? LOL
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      Dec 23 2011: Wait let me look........why yes, yes it is sunny!
    • Dec 23 2011: We will all be so crazy or lazy that we would be like some disgusting abomination of pure evil rising from filth to an insane world of chaos.

      Then again, I might be underestimating the complicated nature of all of humanity.

      What do you think, people of TED?
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        Dec 23 2011: Hi Zared,
        I think/feel that I will never be so "lazy that I would be like some disgusting abomination..." because I believe we have a choice in each and every moment regarding what and how we want to "be" in our life experience.
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    Dec 22 2011: Hi Valerie!

    A wonderfully phrased question, that exposes the root of countless unnecessary difficulties !

    Here's a little something that I asked myself awhile ago... and I thought you might relate!


    Is it a mistake
    to think
    that the mistake
    does not


    that its an illusion
    of thought


    that its created through comparison
    with a system of evaluation
    which was itself


    is the same true
    of all mistakes


    does NOT



    But then again...I may be wrong about this...Ha!

    All the Best!
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    Dec 22 2011: Excellent points, those who are not willing to hear anyone else's ideas because they think they are always 100% right are no fun to chat with. I do enjoy a heated debate, but not one that ends friendships and leaves people aggravated with one another. I like to be right, but I love to learn. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, shut my mouth, and open my ears.
  • Dec 22 2011: and in addition to my post:

    There are things we know they are right (for us), because we experienced them once or do it every day.
    There are things we know they are right (in a group of people), because we agreed upon them being right.
    There are things we believe they are right, because others say or write so and they seem convincing.
    There are things we believe they are right, because they simply have to be!

    So, of course we are right if we believe so! Why on earth should it be otherwise? :)
    And yes, we can be right AND happy at the same time :)
  • Dec 22 2011: Hello Valerie,

    your questions seems to imply that we all are indeed controlled by this "need to be right".

    I met some very open minded people in the present course of my life who listen to what others say and try to understand their position. Even so far that they temporarily give up their own opinions and beliefs just for the sake of having a good conversation or because they want to understand their opinions and beliefs better by assuming a different point of view for a moment.

    Some people have the feeling that they are right, but they are not quite sure why and they are not only happy if their opinion is confirmed in a discussion, but quite as well they appreciate a convincing argument for an other opinion.

    So surely not all people are controlled by a need to be right and I believe that such a control - if present - can be overcome by everyone.

    On the other hand, everytime we "want" something from other persons, we have to convince them to give it to us. So "being right" in this sense is part of our daily survival game where we try to make a "good deal" protecting and selling our opinions.

    But here there is a difference of course between being stubborn and being professional.

    I will answer your question in a different form: "How do people treat each other who are in control of the need to be right?"

    I believe that open minded people have better relationships (private, business, ...), because they talk with others and want to learn to know others instead of acting on the base of assumptions and prejudices. They have respect towards other people's ideas and are respected in return because of this. They can talk with really everyone on this planet, while people with the need to be right will only have a good talk with those who share their opinion.

    I think that open minded people are successful because of their flexibility. They know when "just being right" is not appropriate. They can cope with changes in life much better.
  • Dec 22 2011: With dis-identification of mind we would not have a need to prove the right or wrong because through a peace on mind one can clearly see the insanity of a mind (by feeling the inner body-emotions) and therefore doesn't get caught up in defending opinions, believes, etc for such defensive mechanism itself comes out of a problem-it is called the "EGO".
    Through a peace on mind one can be present, therefore one's words and actions are not preoccupied with thoughts from the past or the future but are aligned with the universal flow which is always and only NOW. Through a peace on mind one also gets in touch with a natural state of being (joy, love-->happiness) accompanied with appreciation of life (including appreciation of human beings).
    With mind dis-identification we would take control over the mind and we would not be controlled by the need to be right or wrong anymore; so we would treat each other the one and only way the nature wants us to treat each and that is with love.
    It is time to go beyond belief.......from mind to heart.
    Like Bob Marley said: "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery"

    1 LOVE
  • Dec 22 2011: I love being wrong and I love being right! this is the only way to learn and teach, listen and converse. Great topic!!
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      Dec 22 2011: Interesting that you claim "the only way to learn" is through "rightness". Children learn at a super rate before the ego appears. Being right is an Ego Need...
  • Dec 21 2011: The need to be right is a deep rooted ideal that stems from our basic survival needs. To be wrong in the wild is to die in many cases.

    Way too often a topic of passionate discussion becomes more about winning the argument than about the actual topic. Being bull headed myself, I've learned to cope with this issue by knowing that there are very few whole truths in this world. Many people with many thoughts allows for many individual truths. Accepting the possiblity that the other person can holds truth in there words not only allows this tension to subside but also allows you to learn from the experience.

    I once had a lengthy theological discussion with a man who was very passionate about his beliefs. He was passionate to the point of aggresive behavior. I noticed that the more aggressive he became the more off topic and chaotic his thoughts became, resulting in a snow ball of agitated ramblings. If he truley wanted to prove to me his ideals were the "right ones" he should learn to teach his ideals in a open and just light. I believe his purpose was not to give me knowledge but to prove to him self he was right by convincing me.

    In short to answer you question I will refer to a Beatles tune.

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one
    • Dec 21 2011: Let me enjoy being right about this one. That's not a Beatles song you've just quoted, it's John Lennon's "Imagine"!
  • Dec 21 2011: There is a difference between BEING right and getting things Right -- or finding the Best Right Answer among many possible right answers. It is a basic human need to BE right, and I believe it is this need to which you are referring that is the source of much conflict. We spend much of our lives trying to justify our positions, opinions, ideas, feelings, and distinctions, because we hate to be wrong. As a business coach, I see this every day, usually in subtle ways that prevent people from personal growth and limits their possible choices and responses to change.

    Healthy societies are able to rise above this basic instinct to "be right" in order to create the "best right answer" for the society as a whole.

    This basic human need to "be right" is becoming more of a problem in the U.S. I would venture to say it is becoming THE problem of this nation and, ironically, may be evolving into the solution in other parts of the world. We have combined our need to be right with constant social interaction and communication through multiple layers of media - "social media" in particular. "In order for me to be right, you have to be wrong"...and that's just WRONG (pun intended).

    What's the difference between current affairs around "being right" in the U.S. and, for example, Arab countries? The Arab Spring is a result of a multitude of people coming together to voice their input toward the BEST right answer among all. Discourse in the U.S. has become nothing other than a continuous argument based on the premise that "I OWN the right answers, which means you are wrong." American public discourse is lost in the noise of our own ability to contribute to the argument so that civil conflict is no longer, well, civil.

    Conflict can lead to innovation, and to a common good. Only when we return to a search for common values, a common mission and a common good will we get it right once again.
  • Dec 21 2011: Form your opinion to hold water and put it to sail that's the way to travel! If you don't do it no one else will do it for you. If you are proven wrong admit it and sink it yourself, after all if it became a matter of debate there must be room for argument. Ego is unavoidable, using it as a weapon is not, it's a foundation rather than a battlement.
  • Dec 21 2011: People are extremists by nature. Whether it is religion or any subject, either you're right and on my side or you're wrong. People will go to extremes to prove that they are not wrong and often in this crusade inflicts pain upon others.

    I personally was an extremist. Everyone was stupid unless they agreed with what I said 100% which was extremely obnoxious of me. I was basically insecure and wanted to prove to myself and to others that my words had meaning. That I had meaning. It was all a facade, I might have thought I had grounds for what I said but I didn't. I didn't do any research, reading, anything and just spread these thoughts that had no basis.

    Oddly enough, I had many 'friends' back then as compared to now.

    I cannot speak for everyone, but as for myself I'm far more kinder to myself and to others. I believe in what Geerte says, If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take man as he should be we make him capable of becoming what he can be. We can't live to our full potential if we have this fanatic obsession with being right or wrong, it just isn't human. To err is human, and I'm proud to be an erroneous human.
  • Dec 21 2011: I have beliefs that are very dear to me, as many people do. Without going into details, my faith is the cornerstone of my life. BUT, by being able to say (and believe) "I could be wrong", I am able to maintain real friendships with people of other faiths and political leanings. My version of God may not exist. There may be no heaven. When I die, I might just go to sleep. I don't believe that to be the case, but if it is the case, that's okay. I live my life according to my scriptures, because I choose that life -- not to avoid hell or to earn a ticket to heaven. It's because it's the best way for me to be the best person I can be. And by acknowledging that I might be wrong, it frees the people around me from the fear of talking to me. We can argue with laughter and smiles, and we can disagree and still part as friends. You don't have to agree with me to earn my affection. Let's all practice this together, shall we? Repeat after me: "I believe ________ to be true, but I guess I could be wrong." That wasn't painful, was it? I believe that this phrase may be the secret to reaching peace in our time. Instead of struggling to convince the opposition that you're right, how about accepting that you could be wrong? It's liberating! I promise. And I believe a change in attitude like this could really change the world. But, then, I guess I could be wrong. :-)
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    Dec 21 2011: I propose that there's no such thing as "Being Right".....simply because "Being Right" is subjective, not absolute.
    • Dec 22 2011: Surely there are truth claims that are not subjective. If I claim that the atomic number of oxygen is 16, I am either right or wrong; there is nothing subjective about it.
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        Dec 22 2011: I guess that's what I'm trying to say, to a certain extent...there was once a point where everyone KNEW the atom was the smallest particle in the universe

        ...but, clearly, that is no longer what we think to be true.

        Who's to say what the future will tell us?

        I can't reply to your post, so I'm gonna do it here :-)

        I guess what I'm trying to say (but doing a poor job at it lol) is that "Being Right" is still a matter of perspective......whatever history you wrap around it ;-)

        For example, your 1+1=2 example. 1+1 can also equal's how:

        Take 1 Haystack + 1 Haystack and you're left with 1 Haystack ;-) ....granted, a much large one lol
        • Dec 22 2011: Scientific "truth" is more of an applicable, logically conclusive definition made by us and agreed upon at a certain point in time. Absolute truth we have only in the sense that we agree that "1 + 1 = 2" and therefore it is so.

          "Atom" was introduced as a word for that what can not be divided into parts. This is a definition with a "sexy" name attached to it. Nothing more, nothing less.

          As you say there was a point in time where this definition was used to describe the observed behavior in the world. And so it didn't change much until today as we still have a model which uses the idea of smallest indivisible particles.

          So the idea is still true in this sense as it is still being applied. The label "atom" has been removed from the idea of "smallest particle" and attached to "that what can't be divided by mechanical or chemical means", but the name "atom" was kept because of historical reasons or laziness. It is something of a misnomer today, but wording is usually not a problem for scientists :)

          So there is an absolute truth in the sense that we have ideas. Ideas like the one of a smallest particle. These ideas will always be there from their creation on and will remain absolutely unchanged, since when you change an existing idea you in fact create a new one. The old idea is still there, it can not be "undone" as long as it is stored in some kind of memory.
    • Dec 22 2011: This proposition seems to contradict itself (in that, if there's no such thing as being right, then any proposition is necessarily not right.)
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        Dec 22 2011: Truly....Kinda like "Never say Never" lol

        And believe you me, I'm always open to the idea of not being right ;-)
  • Dec 21 2011: People are governed--more than most would care to admit--by what they think other people think of them. The need to be right is just part of that instinctive need to establish and maintain social status. It's not so much a need to be right as a need to be SEEN to be right. It's a human instinct.
  • Dec 21 2011: If we were not controlled by a need to be right, we would treat each other with kindness and respect.

    The need to be right, at the expense of alienating others, has its roots in deep seated issues within a person. One of these issues is an overinflated sense of self importance, often stemming from not really thinking much of ones self (kind of ironic but true). The person who thinks well of himself, who has a right view of himself, will not have the need to be right. In fact, they are very often open to the possibility that they may be wrong. They in fact want to *know* if they are wrong. This person seeks the truth, and they ultimately do not care about being right or wrong. Not surprisingly however, they are usually right.

    Another issue I see very often is the issue of fear. The need to be right stems from fear. If I am wrong, then I am afraid that your "rightness" will somehow wreak havoc and upend my world. This is too much for the fear based person to tolerate.

    Still another reason is just that an individual is a complete jerk. This issue needs no further explanation. They have a decent view of themselves, they are not afraid, they just do not know *any* social graces and always have to win.

    Now maybe i'm wrong on some of these points....and that is okay....because you see, I do not need to be right!
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      Dec 21 2011: Hi Kent,
      You say..."The search of truth is why we all thrive", and "I believe having a need to be right provides energy for the brain". Both interesting concepts.

      If we are truly searching, are we truly trying to be "right" at the same time? I believe searching stimulates the brain, and trying to prove oneself "right" seems "stuck" in the brain to me.

      OH....I forgot to answer the topic question...LOL
      "How would we treat each other if we were not controlled by a need to be right?"

      First of all, I don't believe we are "controlled by a need to be right". I believe we give up our authentic power, with trying to be "right". As has been insightfully mentioned in this thread several times by different people, it is generally an insecure person who needs to be "right".

      That being said...I believe our world would be "WONDERFUL", and we would treat each other with compassion, empathy and respect if some humans didn't feel the need to be "right". To do that, we need to create the environment for more security, confidence and contentment in our "self":>)
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        Dec 23 2011: Have I told you lately that I love you!
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          Dec 23 2011: No Valerie, you have NEVER told me that you love me, and my ego is greatly damaged...LOL:>)

          Love you too darlin':>)
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      Dec 22 2011: I would like to change your words "I believe having a need to be right provides energy for the brain. The search of truth is why we all thrive."

      To: I believe having a need to UNDERSTAND provides energy for the brain. The search of truth is why we all thrive. AND I WOULD ADD we thrive and our consciousness evolves because we are naturally curious.
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    Dec 20 2011: The less you are satisfied with your life the more you are vulnerable to chauvinistic ideas to boost your self esteem and the more violent you will get to defend the ideas behind this chauvinism.
    The reaction is similar to the one of a cornered animal.
    When other views and ideas undermine this false self esteem people resort to aggressive methods to proof their chauvinistic views and ideas. They are no longer open to reason, because thinking that you are right and actually being right has the same effect on self esteem (ignorance is in fact bliss).
    As far as I know the only way to not fall into this behavioral pattern is to know the dynamics of it and reflect your actions and views constantly, sorting out everything that is based on chauvinism and improving oneself to raise self esteem instead.
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    Dec 20 2011: Early in this debate, Valerie clarified her topic question by asking, “Can we have ideas and opinions without getting angry, resentful and down right murderous if others don't agree?” The answer to that question is, simply, yes. We are doing that right now in this debate. Having thoughtful, dispassionate discourse first requires that we all be willing (and perhaps eager) to be proven wrong. In the description of these debate threads TED requests of us to, “Bring your best facts, evidence and reasoning, but be prepared for a challenge, and be willing to change your mind if you encounter a persuasive viewpoint.” That willingness to change our minds is essential to peaceful discussion of ideas and ideals because without it, each of us becomes an immoveable bulwark of our own ideas and other people will try all that much more to insert their own, apparently infallible, beliefs.

    One of the TED greats, Sir Ken Robinson, states that we live in a society which decrees that the very worst thing we can be is wrong. Being wrong in our society, especially in childhood when we are learning about how society works, is punished, usually with time outs, groundings, and bad grades. As we grow older, it is punished with ridicule. It logically follows that if being wrong is horrible, being willing and eager to be wrong is tantamount to insanity. It is no wonder that most people cling to ideas, often to the point of violence or other extreme measures, even if the evidence against their idea is substantial and persuasive.
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      Dec 20 2011: Wow that sparked something in me! The being wrong thing. I came to ask this question because I myself am a soul that will not confront. BUT most of my life I have assumed I was wrong about everything because I had no desire to fight. Because of the aggression of some I could only assume they knew what they were talking about. The main thing that has kept me from collapsing under the pressure is in my job of training horses and dogs, I let them tell me what works and what does not. You see they have no agenda and they do not lie. I have happy, affectionate, dogs and horses that are very willing servants and not obedient slaves! I still have people tell me I do things "wrong" and it hurts, but my horse just about that time will do something great and people just shut up! I love my animal friends!
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        Dec 21 2011: Put your trust in no one but yourself.
        Everyone can be wrong or not but your inner feeling never errs.
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    Dec 19 2011: I think we must first define how we identify right and wrong. The constructs of right and wrong have been built by various societies over the course of thousands of years. Ideas like “it is wrong to kill” and “it is right to seek fortune” are constructed, mostly by religion, as a way to keep the human population orderly. Ideas of right and wrong change from society to society, mostly due to differences in religion. Some societies’ ideas directly contradict other societies’. As an example, until recently, the Korowai tribe of south-eastern Papua practiced cannibalism. To these people, it is the right thing to do in cases where the person being eaten is a convicted witch-doctor. To other cultures, cannibalism is considered very wrong for any reason. In the way that these cultures determine on a grand scale what is right and wrong in a sort of “rules of social engagement”, sub-groups in societies can make more specific rules of right and wrong that they stand by firmly and impart to their children. These smaller rights and wrongs can include anything from “it is right to be a Bears fan” to “it is wrong to use any technology beyond the level of a horse-drawn carriage.”

    Without these socially created constructs of right and wrong, the only thing that determines the actions of an individual is personal choice. That individual may decide to create his or her own version of the right and wrong construct, or they may simply do what they think suits them best in each moment. Without the guide of society’s right and wrong, guilt becomes irrelevant because there is no standard to compare the individual’s actions to and feel bad for violating. The only measure of the properness of an action is whether the outcome of that action was as the action maker intended it to be. In the most extreme version of this argument, we are all perfectly self-absorbed. As mammals, it is unlikely that our evolutionary drives would allow this perfect lack of care for others.
    • Dec 19 2011: Agreed. But at some points, as you mentioned. the "right" is antithetical to the human experience. And after all we are a social specie. I can intellectually accept fascism, oppression and genocide as a necessary evil in the growth of humanity. After all the annihilation of Paris gave us the Paris of today. But at the core of our mythology there is this nagging call to FIGHT for what's "Right". Sadly this is mostly manifested in nonsense.
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    Dec 18 2011: I needed to post this in questions, not debates. Also my question pertains to why we HAVE to be right. I am not speaking of a situation where it would involve danger to be wrong, or doing the right thing vs doing the wrong thing. I mean getting intense, aggressive and even hostile over things like if you believe in God or not, or if Obama is a better President than Bush. Or iphones are better than droids or the Raiders are better than the 49ers. Things that if we thought about it, who cares! YET people hurt each other on a regular basis both emotionally and physically to prove they are right in the most ridiculous situations.
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      Dec 21 2011: I know such persons as you describe exist but it's long ago since I met someone like that.
      I think if a person is insecure about the world and him/her self, that person seeks a hold in fixed opinions about everything. This gives the feeling of control which becomes feeble again when it is challenged by other people or real events.
      Also tradition can play a part if it hold all kind of values and truths about all sorts of things. If someone grows up within that tradition and makes it to his or her identity. That identity is threatened at the moment these values are challenged, denied or proven wrong.
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        Dec 21 2011: I agree Frans, that generally, "if a person is insecure about the world and him/her self, that person seeks a hold in fixed opinions about everything. This gives the feeling of control which becomes feeble again when it is challenged by other people or real events...That identity is threatened at the moment these values are challenged, denied or proven wrong". Well said:>)
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      Dec 21 2011: Hi Valerie

      I believe in the Christian God. I may be wrong & am willing to listen to reasoned argument in this regard. If I am correct in my belief, then there is eternal consequences for all man/woman kind. This does cause me to share my views with those I encounter. I have found that this only really works with those who know & trust me. It is a matter of loving people & gaining their respect; then they may listen to my views.

      I love my Harley Davidson, but I wouldn't advise anyone else to buy one. I have a Mac instead of a PC, but that's no big deal. Who cares what car I drive; I don't. But where we might spend eternity; that is a bit more important, I think you would agree.

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      Dec 21 2011: Why do we have to be right?

      I don't know. But I do know we are taught it's not okay to be wrong. We are not taught to think or to "explore" new ideas; we are taught that there is "one right answer to every question." (When did Zheng He discover America?)

      What happened when you gave a wrong answer to a multiplication question in a grade two math class?

      I'll bet everyone laughed at you.

      What happens if you don't believe in Jesus?

      You go to hell. (Right, Peter?)

      The consequences of being wrong are ... extreme. Social isolation or eternal damnation (to name only two.)

      The whole concept of right/wrong is a learned paradigm.

      There are others.
  • Dec 12 2011: Often, even when our inner conscience tells us that we are wrong, we tend to confirm our bias by offering ourselves, coupled with others, 'facts.' Why? Because our ego does not allow us to directly accept the fact that some one else might have proven us wrong. We feel embarrassed to admit our mistakes.
    If we did not have a need to always be right, we would be more open minded to opinions and solutions, we would be more willing to accept our mistakes, rather than trying to continuously defend them. Thus, we would be more acceptable of one another and treat one another in more ethical ways.
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    Dec 12 2011: What is right? There is no such thing as right or wrong, it is only the individual's perception!
    For a person committing an act of murder, the act is his path to righteousness and is shunned by the socially equipped people because they don't believe that path holds true for themselves. So what?! Go on your path to finding self-realization. The ultimate goal of life is to discover who you are eventually and how you figure in the macroscopic universe filled with trillions upon trillions of stars. You might ask what the consequences are of to a traumatized victim whose loved one is murdered by someone and how that person cannot follow his path to self-realization? Wrong! You see, there is something called time and time eventually causes changes, irreconcilable changes that causes events. These events can be manipulated using willpower and ample anticipation. If the traumatized victim seeks revenge he will either kill his wrong-doer or die in the process himself. But that is his fate and through that act of total devotion and understanding of one's motivations he ascends to higher planes of consciousness.
    So the ultimate question is:

    Who am I?
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    Jan 7 2012: This was my first "view" upon joining.
    How serendipitous and enlightening.
    Thank you, Valerie.
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    Jan 6 2012: Good topic. I might be in the minority, but I feel what keeps people from seeing and understanding thier perfect-self is the centuries of believing and following moral and ethical values passed down and programmed into us by our families,peers,schools, and culture as a whole. I believe fear drives people not to question why they believe what they do. I believe ifin some magical moment, all of the current population were to somehow forget all their past and awake in the absolute present moment, humanity would progress and evolve and live in perfect balance with the earth as a whole, with no need for laws or ruling group of people. With no pre-wired morals or values or views of others, we would intrinsicly accept all others and our place in the web of life. No one would seek power of anyone else. no group would be suppressed because they looked or talked diffrent. Just like in nature when large groups of the same species work together, the focus is not selfish but seeing ones place in the whole.Peace.
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      Jan 6 2012: Have you read The Celestine Prophecy, the 10th insight, The secret of Shambhala and the 12th insight? Because it sounds as if you have. If not you may really fly! It has totally helped me to understand the important message of the Bible!
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    Jan 2 2012: The perception of being right increases in proportion to the strength of faith, of passion, of specialisation, of experience, and of qualification. The narrower that strand of specialism, the stronger the sense of having to be right at all costs, sometimes to the point of total exclusion of any other valuable argument which may come along to oppose it.

    What this means is that generalists, on the whole, find it very difficult or even impossible to argue with such specialists. For instance, they might be reluctant to argue about economics with someone who is an economist by interest or profession, for the reasons given above, even though good arguments are to be made from the more panoramic standpoint of the generalists among us.

    Narrow specialism is all very well and very admirable, but it also has to have strong links to openness and empathy towards others who wish to contribute to such debate - even though they may get stuff wrong.
  • Jan 2 2012: To be right or to be your self. To live comfortabilly or to live happy. To show up honest or to hyde a lying inside.
    Wich is the way to agree appearences and sincerity?.
    What have you happier?
    I´m sorry but I don't have the answer. Anybody has it?
    I would thanks your point of view.
  • Dec 30 2011: I believe that the existence of a need to be right and its obtrusiveness is subjective. I do not feel I need to be right. Perhaps peoples ego's do create that need in some cases, but other motivating factors may have created some of the examples you mentioned, such as the need for material things or the need to feel a part of a group. You can't disagree with me here, right?
  • Dec 30 2011: I will just be happy doing what is right. But of course doing right is subjective, it depends upon what side you are standing. So i will do what i believe is right but leaving my mind open for the possibility that I am wrong, while living happy. That way I can treat everybody right while being happy
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    Dec 29 2011: I like the way you phrase the question. It is not uncommon that individuals that are quite dissimilar can get along with one another amazingly well. I think you have exposed at least part of the answer as to how individuals can remain good friends or happily married. These differences are overridden by what they share with one another. This attitude can make a relationship stronger because it allows for a constructive dynamic. The need to be right can be abusive, or for personal recognition and that is a whole different matter and motive.
  • Dec 28 2011: I agree with you Philip, on the point that what drives human actions is empathy, compassion etc, However, if analyzed deeper, you will realize that be it kind souls or robbers, they believe that their actions are just tasks that will lead them to ultimate happiness level they have been pursuing for themselves. If may sound selfish, but we choose a certain action because in our own assessment it is the options that we derive most happiness (peace) for ourselves.
  • Dec 28 2011: Being right, or being happy, seems to me to be the wrong set of choices. I see it as being right, or being afraid.
    If I need to defend my opinion, it is probably because down deep, I'm afraid - afraid that being wrong will destroy me in some way. That big word EGO is very important: on the positive side, my ego has kept me intact, enables me to face the world, distinguishes me from others. On the negative side, to have it challenged threatens me with destruction, and I seek to remain intact and so will vigorously defend it.
    The answer is hard, yet easy, and found in major religions (I can't say ALL major religions, because I can't claim to know them all, but I suspect it will be there in all) - 'dying to yourself'. For example, Jesus used that very phrase, the Buddha taught let go desire, Islam means surrender to God.
    For me, this is a voluntary option, and a lifelong task, but the only way forward.
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    Dec 27 2011: We must treat each other like Comb pins, without a deference at all.
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    Dec 26 2011: I don`t think everybody is controlled always by a need to be right, although we all are tempted to be like this in a conversation, more or less. It depends on your power to empathize with the world and truly understanding the message they send to you. On the other hand the EGO doesn't let us go or we don`t let him go because of pride and unfortunately we cause a prejudice to that person. I think the solution is " let go of that ego" and start loving your "comrade". Wish you all the best !
  • Dec 26 2011: Does the asker assume the we are all indeed controlled by a need to be right? The assumption of the lack of free will confounds the question itself.
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    Dec 25 2011: Feb 1995 NYT: "The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment.

    That is a well-known religious edict, or fatwa, issued two years ago by Sheik Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia."

    So, if I insist that this guy is wrong and that I am right in believing the earth to be round, am I tenaciously clinging to the need to be right, or am I just a realist who wants to start a conversation from a point that agrees that certain facts of nature exist?

    The flat earth belief is an extreme example of the ridiculous religious edicts that can tie school boards into an impassible knot and stifle education systems.
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      Dec 25 2011: Reminds me of the dilemia that was faced by the illuminati.
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        Dec 25 2011: Did I miss something? What was that dilemma?
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          Dec 25 2011: The illuminati were men of science and the arts. The church of that time found them in conflict with church dogma. The illuminati had to go underground as they became persona non grata. We currently recognize these men of science and the arts as some of the most influencial people in history. I am sure that you can find better references on the web than I can provide.
  • Dec 25 2011: It seems our wanting to be right is a mechanism that has proven us well in evolution, why else would it exist? Being right creates a sense of satisfaction, is rewarding, boosts our self-esteem. Being wrong yields opposite emotions, frustration, shame, even anger. It's possibly just a matter of dualism and creating structure in our lives. Humans have difficulties to function properly when living in incertainty, we need a system of beliefs to manifest ourselves and give ourselves a sense of (collective) identity. In our pluralst society this mechanism doesn't seem to serve us that well anymore. It's okday to have a view of how things are in the world, but we need to build in the premisse that there is real possibility that we're actualy wrong. This creates space for failure and strengthens our survavibility as a society. Of course, I could be wrong! haha. ;-)
    • Dec 25 2011: Well you have a good point point here. Beliefs are important and you do need beliefs for everyday functioning. Having said that you also need to be aware that belief is a psychological state in which individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.
      What if that psychological state (due to whatever reason) is distorted or is different from others. Do you stick to "being right". Do you end your marriage for it or do you kill or do you torn your family.
      As I write this, I am beginning to think that to be able to accept that you are wrong (only when you are actually wrong) is something that not everyone can do and should not do. You need a lot of knowledge and skill to change your beliefs. If you are not fully equipped, it will destroy you (in terms of your self confidence, self doubt etc.) and if you are well equipped, you will rise and shine.
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    Dec 25 2011: People need something to believe in sometimes anything even if it sounds crazy. How would we treat each other?.. no one knows but we probably wouldn't be challenged in life. Good question makes you really think. :)
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    Dec 24 2011: Great topic, I wrestle with it often! ..The problem, I think, is with everyone's perception of "free will", as if we can just be whoever we want to be....magically. The two things that really shape who we are, are, our genes that build us, and the environment we are born into. NEITHER of these things we have ANY control of. So, these factors shape our thoughts and ideas and make us who we are. We are able to operate "freely" inside of this "being" but we are only able to ebb and flow so far away from who we are. So, this paints a very diverse picture of the definitions of what is truly "right" and "wrong" ...Right and wrong is as diverse as the people who created it. So everyone who feels so inclined, puts forth their ideas and it is society that ultimately accepts it, or rejects it.....this, I think, is evolution and that is why it is important for those feel feel inclined to do so, for folks to proposes their ideas, and voice their opinion (lead by ego at times) and see where they fall. It is instilled in us, maybe from God, but who really knows! Thanks!
  • Dec 23 2011: Across centuries and cultures, from Socrates, to the Dalai Lama asking questions seems the least threatening and most productive approach. When you lead horses to water, they often do drink, especially if you drink first. It seems another characteristic that wise people across time have held is one of humility and perspective in relationship to truth... they often phrase their opinion as thinking on a right path, yet limited by a human boundaries. This gives the "other" the ability to save face and perhaps relieving anxiety as they can reflect on "changing ones mind" in a less pressured fashion. Remember, usually both parties are experiencing threshold anxiety about their illusion of "having it all figured out"...if the conversation is among people truly concerned about each other's well-being then they can engaging in helping one another grow...if it is done in an adversarial context, odds are the harder each side pressures, the more entrenched the "rightness" of thinking becomes as anxiety and ego rise. Perhaps before any humans sit down to discuss such things, they should gaze upon the picture of earth as the Big Blue Marble". Even then it is tricky...because people differ on the ultimate outcome for earth. Good luck :-)
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    Dec 23 2011: Hi Colleen. Thanks for you thorough comment. I surely wrote mine too fast and didn't clearly exposed my point.

    So, my assumption was that, by nature, we are not able to avoid the debate and that we always need to put our ideas in front of our relatives, coworkers, neihbours ... We need to make them exist by the sound. I think that our ideas live because some people don't agree with us and because they're ready to try to demonstrate they're right. So, as a consequence, for me, not trying to be right, means not saying we disagree, which means not expressing ourselves and keep our ideas inside.

    By the way, you're the first person here to debate with me so, i'm very happy to share ideas and visions with you ;-)
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      Dec 23 2011: Laurent,
      I think/feel you have brought another important factor to this discussion. People often write comments very quickly, and without listening to what the other person is saying/thinking/feeling/believing/expressing. Many times, I observe people basically saying the same things, but in a confrontational way, so the discussion gets "stuck" in the controversy, rather than moving forward productively. How we discuss and debate is sometimes more important than the actual topic of my humble perception:>) Whether or not we debate, and how we debate is always a choice.

      I don't agree that "trying to be right, means not saying we disagree, which means not expressing ourselves and keep our ideas inside". I believe we can express our ideas, and realize that other people may have different ideas...neither has to be right in many instances.
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    Dec 23 2011: Convictions, strong beliefs, visions, intimate thoughts are always related to our personal values. One of these value is the right and the need to express what we feel and what we think. Furthermore, all our beliefs exist because, there's always someone that'd disagree with us. Without opponent, no debate. So, if we weren't able or designed to express ourselves in order to debate, in a way or another, we would probably :

    1) explode from the inside overwhelmed by sadness
    2) kill ourselves because of a senseless life
    3) kill each other to find a purpose to wake up
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      Dec 23 2011: I agree Laurent that "convictions, strong beliefs, visions, intimate thoughts are always related to our personal values", and that "one of these value is the right and the need to express what we feel and what we think".

      I don't percieve Valerie suggesting that we not express ourselves. But rather..."why do we cling so tenaciously to the need to be right?"

      If we are about to:
      1)" explode from the inside, overwhelmed by sadness, 2) "kill ourselves because of a senseless life"
      or 3) "kill each other to find a purpose to wake up", don't you think/feel there may be a little more exploration we could do on our part to learn about our "self", and what drives that intense need to be right?
  • Dec 23 2011: It is human nature to love and be loved in return. Though there are many who theive and kill there are just as many who fight for their peers.People are instilled with morals. I do not believe it would be much different from how it is now.
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    Dec 23 2011: Are you talking about "being right" in a collectivity or with yourself? There's many different way to be right, and wrong. It depends on what your experience of life taught you. The question is, perhaps, what "being right" means to you?
  • Dec 23 2011: We will all be so crazy or lazy that we would be like some disgusting abomination of pure evil rising from filth to an insane world of chaos.

    Then again, I might be underestimating the complicated nature of all of humanity.
  • Dec 22 2011: I don't think it's only about ego. Depending on the circumstances someone might take a position on a topic as a straw argument to motivate action or discussion. I do it all the time - sometimes I'll even take a more extreme position on a topic than even I believe in, just to put a stake in the ground and move people along. I'll hold that stake lightly in the hopes that even if I get knocked down a couple of notches we'll land on an agreement that is more within the bounds of what I expect. Also on controversial matters like factors driving poverty, crime, or topics like abortion, we'll tend to view these issues through the lens of our beliefs and world outlook. So no matter how much cold hard data you look at, interpretation plays a huge role. So in this case it's less a matter of "wanting" to be right, and more a case of genuinely believing that one is right.

    So yes ego is absolutely there and I'm as guilty as anyone else in falling victim to it every now and again (maybe even in my position on this topic!). So if we strip out the desire to be right, sure perhaps we'd all do less talking and more listening. But we need people to take a position on something in order to motivate discussion...and if people genuinely believe they are right they should defend the position, but then have the humility to give in where appropriate. Might not always happen though, as beliefs that are rooted in how someone sees the world are almost impossible to shake. My two pesos!
  • Dec 22 2011: Amanda, thanks for the reply. But in my comment "Wrong" for me = "Learn." And "Right" = "Teach." If we are talking about children then my daughter (now 15) taught me even when she was a baby the wrong way and the right way from her actions. And I see this everday working for my local school district. The kids I work with from Kinder all the way to H.S. are amazing to learn from and to teach! So thanks to my parents and my daughters early wisdom, I continue on this "Rightous" path.
  • Dec 22 2011: There is a vast difference between those whose 'need to be right' means that they want their personal world view on a particular topic to be accepted by all, and those whose 'need to be right' drives them to search for the truth in a subject and to adjust their world view to most closely model reality.

    They both are demonstrating "a need to be right", but the first is limiting and divisive, while the second has provided the advances that allow the world we today enjoy.
  • Dec 22 2011: There are two underlying motivation/desires here: to be secured in the knowledge of truth, and to feel respected. And conflict is caused by the misconstructed belief: "If you don't agree with my point, then you must be disrespecting me' - it may then triggers defence.
    First we need to separate our hypotheses and our values - that we all agree find out about the truth is important to each of us - then we also agree that humans have intrinsic values to be respected, ulterior of the ability of being correct.
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    Dec 22 2011: I agree that the need to be right brings some force to development. But, to never admit that you have been wrong will prohibit development of the existence of mankind. Listen, learn, adapt, overcome is more the trail to success than going for the known "truth" and proclaim it indefinitely.
  • Dec 22 2011: i suppose the need to be right is the very driving force behind existence... so without that, there cannot be life... d rezult wud b chaos
    one's ego always likes to believe that he/she is right.
  • Dec 22 2011: This question applies to those people who think there is something called "being right". I think the happiest people are those who choose to do things according to their convenience and manage to believe that it was the right/best thing to do on a subconscious level. How we treat each other is judged by how it is perceived which again varies from person to person. Thankfully nature has a way of balancing things.
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    Dec 22 2011: Life is driven by what is right and what is wrong as a basic - lawfulness - We teach our children this, this should not affect the way we treat others.
    There will always those that are happy and those that are right and a large group somewhere in-between deciding which side to be... Is it really necessary to care about how life would be if right was not important?
    Right with yourself should fix that, then EGO wouldn't be needed...
  • Dec 22 2011: Not telling someone that they're that the same thing?

    What I do, when its necessary to "defiine a truth", is simply to say : "I'm NOT wrong."
    and then leave it at that. I give up all debate at that point, and if someone else wants to continue the debate, hey, I'll listen...
    And when I AM wrong, I admit it and move on...If someone wants to remember it forever, fine...

    I wished i'd come up with that little tid-bit, when I was a 10-year-old...
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    Dec 22 2011: The need to be right is developed by evolution. Right from childhood, we are taught that the people who make right decision, who are right about something, are successful in life. It has become an inherent tendency to be successful and be right. And we humans will do anything to be right. As valerie rightly said, its more about EGO at times.
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    Dec 22 2011: Is it the need to be right, or rather, the need to be "seen to be right"?

    My observations are that it is more the latter ... so often the actual issue being debated disappears and saving face becomes the driver.

    How different life could be.

    I should point out that needing to be right (or caring about a point of view) is important - it's just that when the need shifts to being seen to be right, listening stops and relationships are impacted (and the ruin of disagreeing while still listening, goes out the window)
  • Dec 22 2011: In an equal conversation I don't go in with either a right or wrong position. If I did I wouldn't be open to knowing or understanding a new point of view. If after listening to a comment and thinking of its true meaning if it is ethically wrong then I would counter that with my opinion of what was ethically right in my mind. Someone can reach the same location by a different path of method but in the end we both arrive at the same destination with different stories. If we open ourselves to understanding first that we have the same destination. Enjoying each others paths doesn't require a need to be right. IMHO. Peace.
  • Dec 22 2011: The urge to be right, I believe, is the reason why we actually develope. We answer questions becaue we want to know what is right. We are educated to be 'right.' Now your question is how would we treat others when we are not overpowered by the want to be right. In my opinion, people will start thinking 'Why not be wrong?' If we are not controlled by the need to be right, where is the competition? Why would anyone want to prove themselves right when no one is interested? The world will stop advancing.
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      Dec 22 2011: Interesting thought... "The world will stop advancing" without the drive to be right. It is my opinion that the world advances because "curiosity" is the result of our DNA expressing itself.
      • Dec 22 2011: I agree to the thought of 'curiosity' as a motivation. However, if we look more deeply into the matter, doesn't curiosity arise when we want to know more about what is right? Let's say something is 'wrong.' We question 'Why is it wrong?' This surmise leads us to the conclusion 'The reason why it is wrong' which is actually the truth. So what I am trying to say is that 'curiosity' is a form of wanting to know what is right.
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          Dec 23 2011: I don't see the connection between curiosity and "being right". Curiosity is about the urge to explore to gain knowledge and understanding. "being right" is a judgement.
    • Dec 22 2011: Wouldn't we start treating each other 'indifferently', maybe not at first, but eventually...and feel stifled, inside....?
      I'm reminded of the 'ELOY' and the 'MORLOCKS', from that old movie...(maybe it was a book first).
  • Dec 22 2011: I find it incredibly interesting that this subject has come up. It has been in the forefront of my mind for a while now. I suppose happiness could be seen as the polar opposite of a desire to be right, but my answer to the question would be a bit different. I'd rather be KIND than right.

    We seem to believe that the only things worth having are those that we fight for. We must be right, even if it's at the expense of those we say we love. Winning makes a good show at being everything. We seem to think that we become powerful by crawling over everyone and anyone in our way.

    Kindness is real power. A life can be forever changed with a solitary act. We so easily believe the worst of ourselves, and yet we are deeply moved by the smallest and most simple gesture. Money can't buy that. Neither can ego.
  • Dec 22 2011: It's hard one for sure. But mostly it's not about 'being right', which hurt relationship. It's 'not being happy' which and 'trying to make things right'.
  • Dec 22 2011: We are teaching children that 'being right' is the same as intelligence. The high-stakes testing is demoralizing to children because it reduces them to a score rather than valuing how they think and what they contribute to the world. I am hoping beyond hope that the new Common Core State Standards will allow performance testing that reveals creativity and innovation as a value.
  • Dec 21 2011: "The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new." ~ Pema Chodron
    • Dec 22 2011: Not true in my case. Reading and "listening" opens many other truths I am still learnng about, And will continue to learn about.
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    Dec 21 2011: In the business world when we're right we get compensated, when we're wrong we don't. Simply operant conditioning. It starts when we're children and continues throughout life. Not too many of us get ahead in life by being wrong. We're called "innovators" and it's just like being a baseball player where you are a God when you hit safely only 3 out of 10 times.
  • Dec 21 2011: In the words of the Roger Miller song "Pride is the chief cause in the decline in the numbers of Husbands and Wives"
  • Dec 21 2011: Our need to be right is tied in directly with our self esteem and/or self worth. Depending on our upbringing, to be wrong can very often internally translated into "I am wrong or bad or a messed up person." At least this is how I often experience my own need to be right. Usually what we believe is directly tied to our value systems or sense of being. Being wrong can alter our perception of the world, which can either be very freeing or very frightening.
  • Dec 21 2011: Everybody has a need to be right. Being right all the time is the problem. The Native Americans use the Circle of Courage to describe how one Walks in Beauty. The Circle of Courage includes the following needs: Generosity, Mastery, Independence, and Belonging. If we personally can walk with the balance the Circle of Courage, and help others in this walk, we can have the life we so desire.
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    Dec 21 2011: I think the need to be right is rooted more deeply in a sense of one feeling "out of control" or having low self esteem. I know some might go against this and say that some are raised to behave this way, but I think feeling in control is a very unique human emotion that makes us feel secure. It's unfortunate that people don't see the value in being wrong. Being wrong leads to new knowledge and understanding.
  • Dec 21 2011: If we feel the need to always be right, then how can we open ourselves to new ideas? I think maybe we have to make a conscious effort to lay our "rightness" aside...
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    Dec 21 2011: I notice that this "conversation" is, for the most, only one level deep. No one going overboard here. I vote for ego.

    Valerie - do you really feel that passionate debate on issues that one believes in is always counterproductive?
  • Dec 21 2011: Everyone needs to believe they're right most of the time or else they they become mentally unstable and can't make decisions. However, the need to be right is not the same as need to control others.

    so, what I think people mean when they say the above is akin to non-violent speech, which has very little to do with being correct or incorrect or believing someone else is correct or incorrect. It does not mean that one discards the truth or the concept of truth. Letting go of the need to be right (as stated) or just going along to get along can be destructive. For example, much of science would not exist, and by the same token, much indigenous and innate wisdom--correctness--has been lost by conquering --the need to control. Acquiescing the need to be right under those conditions is obviously self-destructive.
    The way to non-violence is making room for others, regardless of what you believe to be right or wrong, not discarding your own sense of it.
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    Dec 21 2011: Has anyone else heard/read this quote before from Steven Jay Gould?

    "Violence, sexism, and general nastiness are biological since they represent one subset of a possible range of behaviors. But peacefulness, equality, and kindness are just as biological—and we may see their influence increase if we can create social structures that permit them to flourish."
  • Dec 21 2011: In my mind, those who base their true 'selves' on fear and weakness, always are 'controlled' by the need to be right. I find it interesting that the general theme of answers seems to be that there would be 'peace' in the world- indeed Valerie asks the question but herself states- that she has ' willing servants' rather than obedient slaves, in regards to the animals.

    Which really does make me think, is the 'need to be right' a survival/defence mechanism of the human psyche? Indeed, maybe there would be peace in the world but would that have more to do with the need to 'connect' to others, to form a cohesive sense of 'collectivism', in an 'accepted' way rather than an ostracised way?

    Is that why animals who are connected to, in an 'accepting' kind of way, react with an accepting kind of demeanor? Being right or wrong, is just a symptom of being accepted or rejected?

    Thanks for the brilliant question it's given me lots to think about!
  • Dec 21 2011: I’m not sure that a world without at least some amount of ego would be all too interesting. Ego as defined by is, “the ‘I’ or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.”

    We’re programmed to perceive our reality as objective truth, to define who we are as individuals. Each of us lives in a world formed by our own unique experiences and ideals– so in essence, to each of us, in our own subjective worlds –WE ARE RIGHT!

    We often take for granted the receiver has the same reality set as the sender. The process of one person’s intended meaning (stemming from their reality) and another person’s perceived meaning (being received into a separate reality) can translate into both verbal and non-verbal communications with opportunity for misinterpretation in every encounter.

    It’s important for us to remember to stop being “meaning machines” –attributing connotations to interpretations based on our personal set realities. We must continue to seek a true understanding of where others are coming from, as well as take responsibility for communicating our own thoughts and feelings authentically.
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    Dec 21 2011: To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.
    all beautiful words!!
    Why is it people that comes to UP SET peoples lifes? we can´t control people desition making for "happiness" but we do deserve hosnesty over all.
    You know very well In Training Horses is not such a thing a " trying out" Horse training is a long organized prosses prosess from the foal to the finish prospect wich requieres disipline, planning, vision, balance, comintment. streght. sacrificed and HONESTY. these work ethics can make anyone feel right in any field of life, is only my Opinion
  • Dec 21 2011: We would treat each other with dignity, utmost respect, compassion, kindness and love. 24/7.
  • Dec 21 2011: It's definitely not in our human nature to be hostile. Children are not hostile. The conditioned mind(ego) is the part of us that always needs to be right. Most people define themselves through their beliefs/ideas/values. Disassociate yourself from your mind and you won't feel the need to always be right.
  • Dec 21 2011: We have become a people who are not controlled by a need to be right. We allowed speculation and now are face to face with recession. The economy crumbles and still we don't want to stand up and do the right thing.
  • Dec 21 2011: I explained my self from the evolutionary point of view. To be right in some way is connected with the survival of the individuo and the species. It come to my mind a parallel between being right, being normal and being healthy. In some way the three of them point to the same behavior.
  • Dec 21 2011: It is part of our human nature to be hostile towards what is unknown to us.
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    Dec 21 2011: Generally speaking, the people who "NEED" to be right about everything feel that way because they fear the latter would result in consequences they don't wish to confront.

    Too many people concern themselves with the effects their actions will have on their "standing" among their peers. It's not wrong to challenge another person on their views or lifestyle choices if a positive outcome is possible. Religious people need to be right about their specific religion, because in their eyes, to believe otherwise would either force them to abandon their comfort zone(and potentially super-awesome afterlife) or endure eternal damnation for turning against their god(s).
    The reason many people even have such strong beliefs is because they don't know what is expected of them in life and they need rules they can fall back on whenever they start doubting themselves. Pleasure and pain are easy to identify as good and bad, so it stands to reason that living beings opt for pleasurable experiences over painful ones when given the option between the two. The easy choice is the pleasurable one; but when we force ourselves to acknowledge and reflect upon the painful experiences in life, the gain is a greater understanding of ourselves, and added perspective to the world around us.
    Unfortunately, we are raised on traditions and given the impression that everything is going to be fine as long as we can convince ourselves that we're not doing the "wrong thing." When somebody is taking serious offense in a debate, it's more or less safe to assume that they have used the same argument in the past to justify more than one tough personal decision. It's at this point where people exploit traditional/religious beliefs/etc to make themselves believe the easy choice as the right one.

    Being happy is not the purpose of life, if we don't push ourselves to find the answers and understand our own emotional responses for what they really are(survival instincts). We will certainly fail as a whole
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    Dec 21 2011: The defensiveness (and associated aggressiveness) with which we often protect our opinions may in the end derive from our biological instinct for self-preservation. That instinct is meant to protect us from attack, and an "attack" on our opinion is in a sense at attack on us, as if our opinion is a part of ourselves.

    Our opinion is truly something we have crafted, perhaps with great care. Like a story we've written or a work of pottery we've turned, we've honed scattered ideas into a final product and we're proud of this product. It hurts to have it denigrated when we bring it out in public. But we've all noticed that it makes all the difference HOW our product - our opinion - is critiqued. If it's done empathically and constructively, without dogmatism, we react quite differently than when we're subjected to an aggressive and dogmatic attack.

    I think that there is much to learn about truth and certainty through study. I've always recommended study of statistics for a better appreciation of the concept of "uncertainty," which ought to have a much more prominent role in our thinking and discussion than it generally does. If we recognize that practically everything we think we know has some uncertainty attached to it (including this statement) discussions take on a less dogmatic tone. Especially in religion we find that the 3 mid-eastern faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are much more inclined to insist on having found truth than religious philosophies from farther east. This, in my view, has been a damaging influence in our western world, giving the idea of "certain truth" undeserved legitimacy.

    Space here is brief, but I discuss certainty and argumentation in a couple of short essays on my website, Blue Ridge Journal, here: , , and

    They may be of some interest. Though that is of course far from certain.
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    Dec 21 2011: I strive to be right, and the internal conflict creates self inflicted pain. In all aspects of life I am more in conflict with myself than with any other. When I do conflict with others, no matter how much "more" right I "think I am" than they, it is a victory. You have won a greater victory with the peace you have within yourself when dealing with your horses and dogs than most have ever had. I think many like myself who continue to strive within ourselves, will always have that need to be right when dealing with others. I would think few, but hopefully I am wrong, have confidence and peace in any aspect of their lives as you do.
    There are two quotes I learned in High School. My best friend and I each choose one without the knowledge of the other's choice.
    His was, “It is better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”.
    And mine, “It is better to speak and be thought a fool for a time, than be silent and remain a fool forever”.
    He had rather be perceived as being right regardless of its truth, I had rather be perceived a fool, than to be wrong forever. Both of us had a need to be right, only our criteria for what is right was different. In our search for knowledge and wisdom, we took different paths. He was unwilling to be associated with me from then on, believing the adage, “birds of a feather” would make him be perceived a fool. This of course is my perception of me being right and him being wrong. This lead me to a life of being seen as wrong, even foolish often, maybe even now. But, at least if I am wrong there is hope in that I will be corrected as I have been many times in my life. Not always accepting the correction and holding to my “foolish” understanding to this day.
    I had rather do right, than be right, which is often a much easier path for me to follow. I am going to be happy whether I am right or wrong. this talk probably explains why I am always happy.
  • Dec 21 2011: What is right for me isnt necessarily right for you, because it all comes down to experiences and ones reality, then it comes down to having the maturity to understand this. Need derives from greed, from the feeling of needing to pocess something, wether it is an object or a demand for acknowledgement. When one needs peace one will do just about anything to get it, fortunately one can simply hide away from people to achieve this, now when one has the need to be right, that forces a person to conflict with anothers point of view of reality and therefore creates at times a conflict.
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    Dec 20 2011: I suppose it depends on how you express this "need to be right". My "need" prompts me to learn more. Is that inherently problematic?

    Perhaps the issue is the "need" paired with laziness - intellectual, primarily - wherein it is thought to be sufficient to be louder rather than actually listen and learn.

    As my friend Joe said one evening at dinner, "That man knows nothing but he sure knows it loudly."
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    Dec 20 2011: Valerie,

    "How would we treat each other if we were not controlled by a need to be right?"

    The NEED to be "right" is intrinsic... It's a mechanism that we all have in order to make sense of reality. It is through education that we should learn how to take criticism, others perspectives and/or to internalize a multicultural attitude.

    Even if the desire is not to be "right" all the time, as in Zen practices, the strive for "knowing" is within us all.

    But there is a contradiction in your question-debate... We are composites of those who we surround0 ourselves with and are forced upon us; mimetic doubles if you will - not necessarily copies but re-representations. So, if we are in an environment that treats others as inferior intellects, we probably are going to do the same. Vice versa = ourselves bring into a group our determination of "right." The contradiction is, we are usually surrounding ourselves with friends who are on our side anyways (with major subjects relative to our individualistic lives), treating others is variable depending on how your friends would treat others in that particular circumstance.

    Also, this debate is relative, what is the topic I am trying to be right about depends on how much I am going to want to be right about the said topic. I would not argue with you that I know anything about horse training therefore I have zero background in it... However!

    Religion - excellent example - I find an irreligious-ignostic attitudes towards religions will keep you open and spiritual when interacting with anyone religious. I find I am "right" about this, but still welcome criticisms towards my articulations. Thus I am open to being wrong, but within my own conditions.

    I find this debate is a little bigger than just "ego." Ego can be the means for getting a gold medal, as well the means to sounding obnoxious and self-centered. It's an environmental, cultural, and traditional concern rather than an individualistic concern - superego not ego.
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    Dec 19 2011: We are a social species. However, that means that we fight amongst ourselves, pitting one social group against another in battle over resources. The rules of right and wrong are not arbitrary. They are carefully constructed through the evolution of trial and error as ways for social groups to control more resources. As an example, a religion may deem it wrong to use contraception. This rule may seem arbitrary, but consider its history. There was a time when the winner of a battle for resources was most commonly the side with the most soldiers. Therefore, it makes sense to disallow anything that might jeopardize the creation of soldiers. Today, that religion no longer seeks natural resources, but may seek the money that comes from a large population. The easiest way to generate more followers (and therefore more income) is by birthing new believers. Genocide, fascism, and oppression are just different right and wrong constructs produced by social groups attempting to control resources. They are seen as right by the people using them, even if only temporarily.

    The greatest resource on this planet is us. Doing battle to collect people is not nonsense. It is violent and bloody and destructive, but the result of a victory is greater numbers of people in the social group, which can ensure the continued survival of that group. The nagging call to fight for what is right stems from the need to continue one’s own social group by collecting the most valuable resource - people.

    It is unfortunate that these rules of right and wrong cause conflict on such a large scale. But, those same rules also serve to prevent conflict among individuals by providing common ground for actions, understanding, experience, and communication.
    • Dec 19 2011: yes I get all that But what i was trying to express was the internal feelings of right and wrong more then the ones foisted upon us from our cultures or even a sense of the organism. Why would a man risk his life to save another? . Children are a good example of an internal moality that doesnt reflect societies. . There are intrinsic aspects of right and wrong within us, that guide us, that enslave us. Oftentimes our "good" conflicts with societies. I am a meditator and a peacemaker in all aspects of my life but I still struggle with deep impulses to "right" "wrongs". Frequently its against the status quo. Ah... never mind... i've been struggling with this one for years aint gonna solve it today... :)
  • Dec 19 2011: While I am in wholehearted agreement with the way this convo is going I am perplexed by one thing. What do we do in the face of true evil? A white mob beating a black man, fascism, genocide? I do believe in the middle path but I am also quite aware of how the rise of the Nazi's was initially met with a shrugging disregard, people felt like they could be compromised and reasoned with. And that was a terrible mistake.

    To identify "Evil" and stand against it is an even more frightening prospect. Because almost without exception we only see our own fear and Evil in others. Better to destroy them than ourselves. Dirty business.

    I image the thousands of monks living without judgement, as they are butchered by invading armies. Perhaps they are right but then there was the dark ages...
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      Dec 19 2011: I know, right!?! I keep looking for answers and I suppose they become clear as I am ready to see/accept/understand them. What I think I see is that if everything is energy vibrating at different levels, and energy needs energy then our need for energy causes us to (wether innocently or maliciously) steal it from each other which would be a motivation toward the need to be right. It empowers us or it gives us energy. Perhaps to kill someone is the ultimate although misguided act of taking ones energy. Even though it is like cutting an apple tree down thinking it will give you the power to produce fruit. Out of ignorance comes evil. The dark ages are a good example. Bob only knows, but hopefully we are learning!!!!
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    Dec 18 2011: I see the answer in pages 67 - 90 of The Celestine Prophecy. The Struggle For Power.
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    Dec 18 2011: As I have said on many other discussions before, there is no such thing as right, I strongly believe that an individual's mind MUST satisfy its necessities because that is one of the reasons that the individual has a conscience. If a murderer is experiencing an urge to kill, but is restricted by the rules of society, he develops an even more psychotic personality, one that makes him do even worse things. See, the more people are isolated from their true nature, the more people are forced to do things when they believe that it is not, when people are pressurized to conform to the rules of a society not to their liking, they immediately become dangerous as their mindset is off and will go to any extent to give themselves a sense of security and satisfaction. Society is a good thing in general, but like the Buddha has implied in his sayings: one must choose the middle path, both good and bad, because without the other neither can survive. Nature only balances the two scales. Being bad isn't bad, it is merely a chosen way of life, and if you respect yourself for that, it is quite enough. It is the development of self that is the ultimate goal of an individual be it a murderer who believes he will attain it by going on a killing spree or a religious man who believes he will attain it by being a philanthropist. In the end it comes to a choice and choice is everything in this universe.
  • Dec 14 2011: Good question!
  • Dec 14 2011: Well, considering what's happening today. Try to look around you. I believe we all have that inherent good inside of us. But I also believe that we have ways to numb this tendency for good. I think it is happening now. A lot of people today have found ways to be oblivious to conscience. And in extreme cases flip good and bad.
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    Dec 13 2011: according to creation, we are all made with the inherent tendency to do whats right. This is also known as the conscience. The same way a resting magnet points to the north is the same way an unaltered person is willing to do what we consider as right based on our inborn judge- the conscience.
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    Dec 12 2011: Well said. I like that :)
  • Dec 12 2011: I generally ask, "Would you rather be right or would you rather be liked?" I guess the response of most people is that they want both.
  • Dec 12 2011: I agree somewhat with Ram's feeling that the need to be right is rooted in the existential dilemma of identity, but think that a more succinct approach would be that offered by Marx in his early manuscripts. Marx writing in this stage reflect his views regarding "species-being", that our ability to manipulate the world for our own goals, i.e. creating and manufacturing, is the root of happiness in our species, as over the ages we have progressively lost this fulfilment, i think that we have sought to exercise our need to be right as a way of compensating. Hence the lack of happiness that is often attributed to being right as we do not find that satisfaction that we seek when we do prove ourselves right.
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    Dec 12 2011: Exactly. What is right to some is not right to everyone. My question is simply can we have ideas and opinions without getting angry, resentful and down right murderous if others don't agree? Say A person felt that killing was right yet did not feel the need to prove it, or insist that everyone believe it, how do you know they would act on it? What compels a person to murder? Generally, according to research, a mental dysfunction. What causes that dysfunction? Could it be the feeling of not being validated (loved) taken to an extreme?