It’s Better to Be Kind Than Right.

Did you ever read or hear a saying, or quote, that had a profound impact on you? Not just at the moment you first experienced it, but one that created positive change for the rest of your life? Sayings, or quotes, frequently have a positive impact on my life. If someone asked me why, I would probably suggest that my heart and mind are open to accepting a different perspective.

            Even before Covid interrupted our lives I began to notice a shift in the culture of our society. “Being right” about something….anything….EVERYTHING…seemed to be the most important driving force in most people’s life. Social media provided a much larger audience as we all attempted to prove that we were right about everything from the most trivial of subjects (should toilet paper pull from the top or bottom) to major subjects (Covid vaccinations, masking, and political party affiliation). It appeared that the desire to be right drove many people to a place that may have previously been “out of character” for them. Think about it. In order for you to be right, someone else has to be wrong. For you to win, someone else has to lose. Is there a place in this world where rather than creating winners and losers we all embraced the unique skill sets that each person possesses and formed teams that work together to see what they can create together? That’s exactly what Matthew Barzun envisions in his book released this year entitled “The Power of Giving Away Power.” Seems like being consumed by the insatiable desire to be right leaves us with empty tanks when we need to fuel our love, compassion, kindness, hope, and emotional support for others. Working together where the uniqueness of each individual is respected, embraced, and utilized to its full potential, well….it’s hard to comprehend all of the good that could be achieved.

I’m beginning to sense that people are tiring of always having to be right. I think that’s why I clung so hard to the saying “It’s better to be kind than right” when I heard it in a movie a while back. The saying “hit me” as such a profound and wonderful thought process that I wrote it down immediately and began to wonder what it could mean for my life. It appears that when people attempt to be right, the first emotion that gets triggered is righteousness. The second is anger. Being kind triggers many positive emotions including love, compassion, hope, gratitude, caring, and best of all causes a release of serotonin in our brain which brings us immediate joy and happiness. Same thing happens to the person we’re being kind to.

Historically, kindness has been included in the foundation of all major religions. I’m not aware of anyone who hasn’t heard the phrase “Love thy neighbor.” This wonderful community we live in reminded me of the incredible amount of “Love Thy Neighbor” that occurs each and every day when we recently embraced a week of “Neighboring.” It helped me re-live the intense joy I experienced when I witnessed the compassion, caring, love, and support that this community had for all the people impacted by the flood from the dam’s giving way. Witnessing that has made me a better human, and in turn a better community member, husband, father, and yes, a better neighbor.

We’re all fortunate that we live in a community where the leaders of it don’t worry about who wins and who loses, they don’t spend time on who’s right and who’s wrong. They just like being a member of the team, contributing their own unique skill sets on a quest to see “what can we create together?”. In doing so, they’ve created a wonderful community for us all to embrace and enjoy allowing us to spend each day on being kind rather than right. If you check out social media these days, you’ll realize that there’s no shortage of people attempting to be right. I wish there was a shortage. Maybe we could create a shortage if we could show them the immediate and long-term value of being kind. Maybe if we all respect the unique abilities each of us possess, we could form a team (ie community) focused on the great accomplishments we could create working together, eliminate winners and losers, and simply focus on being kind to every person we encounter each day. After all, it’s better….much better….to be kind than right.