“If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.” – Norman Vincent Peale

First, I want to thank my readers who sent me their heartfelt condolences after reading my last blog about the passing of my former husband and dear friend, Jerry Tagami.  I have many mixed, bittersweet feelings of missing a wonderful person who won’t be around anymore, while simultaneously feeling relieved for him and his lovely widow, Diane, that he is out of pain and at peace at last.  I am grateful that I was able to recognize and name the blessings this special person left behind and the huge influence he had on all our lives. His friends and family know that we are all better ourselves for having witnessed Jerry’s zest for life, unfailing caring, devilish sense of humor and dedication to making a difference in the lives of his beloved students.

I believe that Jerry’s passing has given me another gift, as well.  More clearly than ever before, I see that “life is too short” to allow ourselves to sweat the small stuff.  In my September 11 blog, (See #246 in the blog archives on my website), I recalled the old saying that “You can be right or you can be happy.” Most of the time, I choose to be happy.  But I still have to make that a conscious choice each day. That’s because the human Ego appears to be hard-wired to choose right over happy most of the time.

In my youth, I felt the need to try to right every wrong, fight every injustice and set everyone “straight” about what I saw as truth, justice and “the right thing to do.”  I argued with my loved ones, teachers, authority figures and employers, trying to convince them that I alone knew what was “right.”  Many of them undoubtedly rolled their eyes and put up with me because they were much more emotionally mature than I was.

One of the (few) benefits of growing older is that you gain a bigger perspective on life’s problems.  You realize you have to pick your battles and that it’s just not possible to right every wrong.  The issues that truly matter in your life and the lives of people you care about are the ones to focus on. Unfortunately, we often waste a lot of time and energy battling just for the right to proclaim, “I was right and you were wrong!”  (Yes, it does sound a lot like the current Presidential race, doesn’t it?)

I’m witnessing this first-hand right now with two of my coaching clients.  They are both smart, lovely, accomplished, good-hearted, hardworking young women.  Both are determined to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They are sisters, currently living under the same roof.

The older sister saw her marriage and financial support collapse unexpectedly and responded heroically by treating it as an opportunity to create a great new life on her own terms for herself and her two young children.  She applied to an in-demand school in another state to pursue a career that will make her financially independent and give her children everything they need to thrive. Her plan requires long hours of study and hard work, with little money to live on until she graduates in several years.

Her younger sister already has a successful career and is in the process of creating her own side business that promises more emotional fulfillment and greater income to help her pursue her own Big Dreams.  She has responded to her older sister’s current need in an equally heroic way by offering to share living quarters and to help with child care duties while her sister is in class. She willingly gave up much of her free time and her own space to share a four-person household and make some significant lifestyle adjustments in order to help her sister. That is true love.

That is the kind of support I would hope family members everywhere would be willing to give each other. I know the older sister is grateful.  I know she loves and admires her younger sister and wants to see her reach her own dreams, as well. That is why she referred her to me for coaching help. That is true love too.

And yet….They both seem to spend much of their precious few hours on this earth blaming and resenting each other over one petty, inconsequential issue after another.

Each has fallen into the trap of following her Ego’s desire to be right at all costs.  They bring up childhood slights about how each was treated in the family pecking order and have reverted to bickering like teenagers over who deserves the most attention from their mutual friends, best bedroom, more time to herself, etc.  One (so I’m told) insisted that the other “unfriend” some of their mutual friends on Facebook, so the other sister retaliated by demanding that her sister stop “liking” her own friends’ posts.

Really? I have a hard time re-reading that without laughing, and yet it is causing both of them absolute anguish.

When I talk to them separately, each shows up as mature, calm, smart, open and determined.  But when one complains to me about the other, each appears childish, petty, defensive, and completely attached to being declared “right,” no matter the emotional cost.

The truth is, both women have made some significant, admirable sacrifices in their lives and really deserve each other’s support. In addition, I am trying to get each one to recognize that her negative attitude and behavior toward her sister will eventually produce some negative consequences for herself too. The Law of Attraction states that “energy attracts like energy,” which means that whatever you do unto others will inevitably be done unto you – for good OR for bad.

I don’t want to see either of them attract negative consequences as a result of her own negative thoughts, words and actions. Each of them deserves success, happiness and a smooth path forward in pursuing her dreams.  Therefore, each of them must decide for herself if she’d rather be “right” or “happy.”

I know they both read this blog. It is my fervent hope that this post will help each to see herself through objective eyes and recognize that whatever she focuses her energy on WILL attract similar energy, people and circumstances back to herself. Each could be actively pursuing her individual dreams and feeling great happiness for her sister’s success, instead of attracting unnecessary technical and emotional roadblocks and distractions to herself.

It is also my hope that you will view their story as an opportunity to make better choices in your own relationships with your spouse, boss, business partners, children, parents, relatives, students or teachers. We must recognize in ourselves the same Ego pull to risk our success and happiness simply for the cold satisfaction of proving ourselves “right.”

It is said that we rarely regret the words we don’t say, but we often regret the ones we do. I hope you will join me in striving each day to make the one truly right choice: to be kind, loving, forgiving and to simply bite your tongue whenever necessary!

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