Finding Comfort in Being Wrong
Let’s face it. We all want to be right. As human beings, there’s something ingrained in our psyche that makes us feel comfortable when we’re right, and anxious when we’re not.
It’s understandable. Perhaps it’s an instinct. We take comfort in our ability to assess a situation correctly and use deductive reasoning to make the proper decisions needed to ensure our own survival. The ability to determine what is right is good.
But unfortunately, we’re not always right.
In fact, quite often we’re not right. Whether it’s because we don’t receive sufficient information, make false assumptions, or misunderstand certain principles of natural law, there are many times when we are simply wrong.
Most of us will never live more than 100 years. In an infinite universe, how much knowledge can one possibly gain in such a short amount of time?
Yet, we tend to be confident in the small amount of knowledge we have. We like believing that we’ve got it all figured out. Discovering that we’re wrong threatens our confidence and casts uncertainty about our ability to make accurate decisions.
As social creatures, the manifestation of intelligence (usually by demonstrating that we’re right) tends to grant us increased social acceptance and even leadership status amongst many of our peers.
As more people agree with us, we develop confirmation bias. Our decision is reinforced by the acceptance of our peers. The increased confidence and social acceptance feel good. It gives us the comfort and satisfaction we crave.
But what if we are wrong?
What if, in spite of all of the seeming evidence, social acceptance, and confidence we feel, the truth is actually different from our original perception?
Truth is absolute. It’s not just in the eye of the beholder. It's actually absolute and unchanging. For example, “An object in motion stays in motion until acted upon by an opposing force.” This statement is based on absolute truth. It’s an undeniable principle; a physical law of the universe that cannot be broken.
However, our ability to discern truth is often flawed because of our lack of understanding of all things. It’s also weakened by our innate desires for things to be the way we want them to be. We often want to take the shortcut; the easy road; the most pleasurable and comfortable route in life. We don’t want to work for it, we don’t want to experience the pain of doing things the right way, and we often lack the discipline to seek truth over self-interest.
Because of this, we often intentionally (or unintentionally) deceive ourselves into believing what is convenient rather than what is true.
One of the obvious problems this creates is the negative consequences of deceiving ourselves. “I’m not an alcoholic! I can quit anytime I want!”, we say to ourselves, or, “I can speed through a construction zone because I’m a good driver.”
Our desire to have things our way rather than acknowledging our flawed perception can be destructive to ourselves and potentially others.
It can also be a major source of anxiety in our lives.
Choosing to live day-to-day in willful ignorance is like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic as it’s sinking. It doesn’t matter how many people congratulate your opinion and pat you on the back. If you’d rather be right than seek truth, that nagging voice inside your head will eventually cause so much anxiety that your life will be a living hell as you wait for the next shoe to drop.
The battle we face is whether or not we’re willing to let go of our temporary comfort to face the cold hard reality of truth in order to find lasting comfort.
We have to realize that simply willing it to be so, doesn’t make it so. Wanting something to be true doesn’t mean it ever will be. Acknowledging this is painful, but it is a sign of maturity and growth, and ultimately gives us peace.
There are those who are popular because they know how to say all the things others want to hear. They say the comfortable and convenient things. They may have a large following, but it is likely their following is composed of those who seek comfort over truth. A million people can all agree, and still be wrong.
Ask yourself, “Am I willing to let go of what I want for what is right?”
Being willing to be wrong means you may have to stand alone. But it also means that you’re that much closer to finding the truth.
When faced with a question one doesn’t know the answer to, those who can be honest with themselves can simply say, “I don’t know” and then work to learn the true answers, and in doing so gain the respect of others who also seek truth over comfort.
True peace comes from being honest with ourselves and acknowledging truth; not the truth we make up or hope for because it’s convenient, but rather the truth that is uncomfortable; the truth that makes us do hard things; the truth that is absolute; whether we like it or not.
Only an individual who can do this can experience true peace and growth; and in doing so discover the irony that there is actually comfort in being wrong.