You Can Be Right or Happy…


…Usually not both (particularly in your marriage).

It was Friday night (Date Night!) and I was flying home after a long exhausting week on the road. My wife, Georgia was picking me up from the airport and she had made reservations for us at this new restaurant in downtown San Diego we were excited to try.

To make it special, earlier in the week I called ahead to see if they stocked our favorite French champagne. They did not, so I arranged to have a bottle shipped to the sommelier at the restaurant to be presented at the table as a surprise (along with another small gift I picked up on the road).

Georgia had arranged a surprise as well, knowing I would be coming off a long flight she had bought me a new shirt, had it pressed and waiting in the car when she picked me up. Oh boy, this was going to be a good night!

Even though they had people spilling out the front door, the hostess greeted us with a big smile and immediately whisked us to the best table in the house (apparently we had made an impression with the sommelier!).

Halfway through the heavenly champagne (in other words, we are feeling the magic!) our meals arrived. They were delicious. I offered a bite of my dish to Georgia and she commented on the taste of curry in the dish. I insisted it was turmeric and not curry. She said no it was definitely curry. I ranted on about how wrong she was and threw down a bet that I was right (by my scorecard I am like 1,258,932-to-0 in winning our bets).

I started trying to search for the recipe online from my iPhone in the middle of our meal (I know, super lame). I couldn’t find it so I called over the waitress and asked her to settle our score. She was uncertain, but  then (‘make the dumb man happy’ she probably thought) she decided to side with me.

I won! I was right! I did a little victory dance in my chair and gloated a bit longer. However, I now experienced that I had won the battle (battle? I know, I’m embarrassed even as I write this in reflection), but lost the war (the magic of the evening). The rest of the night was spent in austere dialogue, a mostly silent drive home and, well, not much else to tell. :(

The next morning (still being my ape-like self) I went to the restaurant’s website, found the name of the chef, who had a published cookbook and shared some of his recipes on his blog. The dish I ordered was on there and guess what? The ingredient WAS curry, not turmeric after all. Not only had I ruined the magic of the moment by trying to be right rather than happy, but (comically or tragically, depending on whether you find other people’s pain funny or not) I was wrong after all.

I haven’t told Georgia about this little factoid discovery. Let’s just keep it between us, eh? I wouldn’t hear the end of it! Actually, she probably wouldn’t make a big deal of it since, as the more evolved member of our relationship, she would probably prefer peace and happiness than triumph and righteousness. Me? I’m

still in training.

Love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments below.




50 responses to “You Can Be Right or Happy…”

  1. As usual “great article Darren. I heard my oldest daughter say “I choose my battles,” As an answer to conversations and other things she chose not to involve herself in. I decided this was not a bad idea(since I seem to always want to prove my point in matters). I then began to say as she had said instead of always feeling the need to say or do something about everything. At first those that know me were shocked, but now they expect me to say nothing. So much so until my sixteen year old grandaughter is often heard saying “I choose my battles.” I wish I had learned to do this at her age, Because, at the end of the day it’s who wins the war that matters Enjoy your new year, Barbara.

  2. The price of being right often means that we cause the other to be dead wrong. Who cares if I’m right — even if I really am — if it means the person I am with will shut down and give me the silent treatment, become defensive and throw darts and sling mud, or just plain feel alienated because of my ego?

    Easier said than done, and something I make a conscious effort to do.

    Thank you for being so open, Darren, and sharing what was a truly beautiful date night, start to finish! 😉

  3. A great example of transparency, a leadership lesson no doubt.

    How many people would be willing to put their lesson learned story out there? Then, it is what you do with that lesson that matters most.

  4. Darren –

    I believe that it was Wayne Dyer said that you can “Either be right or you can be kind”. I try to remember this whenever I feel the need to be “right”.

  5. Stories, stories, we all have them! Darren, you are still young! So long as you keep doing most things right, and I have no doubt you are — date night, champagne and surprise gift in tow — you will certainly do ok. Only key is that a lot of little mistakes add up to one big one eventually. So let’s keep the count as low as possible. Happy is definitely better than right any time. As someone who is always right (in MY book), I certainly know the sorrows of not having had the wisdom back when I sang Victory! Hindsight is surely 20/20 but it is hindsight after all. Once the song is sung, you can’t take it back no matter what. Oh, if only I could turn back time! Best Wishes on a long and ever happy marriage.

  6. Dear Brother Darren

    It is awfully true and a great eye opener.Though I have ended up on the winning side most of the times the magic happiness of all those moments were lost. Thanks for the sharing and it will definitely help correct myself in all situations.


  7. Let’s hope your wife never finds all your angry unsent text messages! 😉
    Bravo on controlling your inner ape on the electrical outlet. It’s a big feat for MANkind.

  8. Great to “see” the “human” side of you Darren. Thank you also highlighting the “being right” vs the “purpose of the night”. How many times do we in our daily lives just want to be right vs what is the purpose of this meeting or situation? Thanx again Darren.

    I sure hope the “make up” was at least enjoyable.

  9. nJohn; hold up both of you hfront of you facing you and pretend one of them says “shut up”and the other says”you’re right” and everything will work out Larry Riemenschneider

  10. I think it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, but to be happy is the most important thing.

    In our relationship (the wife) I always want to be right and sometimes I guess he wants to be right.

    What am I saying, in your experience, you learned a valuable lesson and we all had experienced that lesson at least once in our marriage. (Maybe being right at all times is, an every day occurrence with some people.)

    My motto fight fairly but love passionately.

    Thanks for the article.

  11. Well, that is sad.. You kinda spoilt the night.. But what i like about the story is that – we all learn through our mistakes..

  12. Darren:

    You IDIOT! You forgot to keep the main thing, the main thing. You lost sight of your goal and got lost. So here’s the good news for you as it seems like you are a first time offender. All is not lost, tonight for dinner, make you wife her favorite meal and you eat a health portion of crow. It goes well with both curry and turmeric.

  13. After reading your blogs and posts etc for as long as I have, I am convinced that if I was telling this story to Darren Hardy he would tell me to do two things:

    1) Accept responsibility, AND

    2) Find a way to make a larger emotional deposit than the emotional withdrawel that I robbed my wife of.

    I hope to hear soon the story of the BIGGEST DEPOSIT EVER!!

    Good luck in Italy!!

  14. I certainly get the gist of the story and the lesson here.
    However I don’t buy into the comment that is talked about and purported in society “Happy wife = Happy Life”.
    The husband deserves his happiness too. The concept that the only path to happiness for a marriage is through the wife’s happiness is sad. The male or female cannot continually sacrifice the point, the decision, the choice etc to the other for the sake of peace continually. That only leads to one not being happy while the other is because their needs were fullfilled. As its portrayed it has to be the male giving in to the female, this sets up the husband and later the children to be predisposed to the emotional whims of the wife/mother where eventually they all say, had enough see ya! Does the 50% divorce rate deny this?
    Now, I am not saying this wife is the culprit, its alot of things; there never is one thing that makes success or failure in anything. But the comment of happy wife = happy life certainly implies only one is happy while the other sacrifices. It must work both ways.

  15. Certainly a good story, yes, I get the gist of the lesson here over many errors in judgement but I give you a break after a long week. Apparently your wife did as well as she didn’t “seem” to directly chastise you, a good woman.

    But I have heartache with the comment that is prevelant in our society today, “Happy Wife = Happy Life”. It works both ways, it must. It implies that the wife is sole decider, provider or arbiter on what it is that makes the marriage and joined lives what they should be. I don’t buy it, as unpolished as we men are portrayed to be, we don’t have to automatically submit that from the wedding forward the marriage is about “keeping the wife happy so everyone can have peace”. That sets up the husband and later the children to be at the mercy of the emotional whims of the wife/mother. I think this eventually leads to the guys saying, Okay I’ve had enough of this, I want a life, my life back, see you. Does the 50% divorce rate lie about this? Or is it opposite? 50% of us guys don’t get the “keep her happy concept” which is why there is 50%?
    I say you can happy if you both happy with where you stand, if not your life, her life and your marriage is not happy. One doesn’t get to be happy over the other. Hard to do but only how it works or the sacrifice of one over a lifetime is too much. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

  16. You are a wise man and wise men a lot of the time know what to do. In this case you should let her know in good time so she wouldn’t hear from a third party

  17. love it – so often men are accused of being ruled by something other than their brains – in this case EGO

  18. Food for thought, eh? Thanks for sharing. I’ll remember this the next time “I’m right!”.

  19. I know a man whenever there is a disagrement with his wife; she always ( for many years) says the statement ” You can be RIGHT or you can be Happy”. End of story, he drops it and she always wins

  20. I know a man whenever there is a disagrement always ( for many years) uses the statement ” You can be RIGHT or you can be Happy”. End of story she always wins.

  21. After 38 years of marriage I have learned-Happy Wife=Happy Life!! Choose your battles wisely grasshopper- thanks for all you do and a ‘Honey I was wrong’ means nothing in 10 years but wonders today

  22. Great lesson for all of us Darren-after 38 years of marriage I go by Happy Wife=Happy Life!!

  23. Oh look… it’s my twin Brother, from a different Mother! D, bad news – scorecard: 1,258,93’3′-to-0 in winning your bets. I’d like to tell you that I have never worn the ape suit – but, unfortunately I can’t win that bet. In fact, the Cleaners call earlier and reminded me that it is ready for pick-up.
    GEORGIA – Please forgive Darren! With all his Heart you know that he loves only YOU, above all else. In fact, we his fans and friends recognize his regret in claiming the battle. We ask that you open your heart in forgiveness and kindly, unlock the back door, but not until he puts the tent and cot back in the garage.
    D, that’s the best I can do for you buddy… Continued SUCCESS – call when you need the ape suit – it’s clean :)

  24. I also think it is not important whether tumeric or curry and from what I read here they are practically one in the same. I would have said it really does not matter it is delicious and end it right there. To spoil a well planned evening after being away would be to me foolish. Why does one have to be right? I’d rather have fun and be happy then right. It is not important to be right, life is too short, enjoy the moment is much more important and much less stressful. If one has to be right there is something wrong somewhere. Think of the evening that was spoiled much more important.

  25. You know how when your child ( and believe me every spouse is not a child, but I’m trying to make a point here) anxiously can’t wait to share with you something you know to be wrong, but you enthusiastically agree anyway!! The look and emotion is wonderful. The same is true in love sometimes you just have say. “You’re right this curry does taste almost like turmeric” That’s why I love You !! You’re furry and I’m crusty but together we’re Love….are you going to eat that ? .

  26. I’ve just lost all respect for you, dude. Man up and tell your wife that you’re ape. Try to create another special night. If she won’t let you hear the end of it then she has some maturing work to do as well…

  27. Good story Darren! After almost 38 years of marriage, I have the three words that a wife is most wanting to hear, and the quicker we learn these three words the better our life will be! Nope, it’s not “Want More Diamonds” or even “I Love You”, but those three magical words that every wife wants to hear and makes our life better is, “You’re right dear”!

  28. WOW Great message .
    that happens not only in Our Relationship with are Spouses, but with Our Kids too .
    Great lesson to start do things different……..
    and I want to be happy not right..!!!!

  29. SO, I can’t help but do this. I’m a lot like you and in reading the resolution of your story I did ask myself, “Isn’t turmeric a spice commonly found in curry”. Sure enough it is, along with coriander and cumin. So to add insult to injury, technically you were BOTH right and argued over nothing! This is a great story and one I can relate to often, and even have one from today.
    My wife is a myrmecophobic (fear of ants) and it being hot and humid out, the little sugar ants have been roaming around. I noticed this morning that she was spraying ant killer near an electrical outlet in our kitchen. Later, after she had left for work I noticed that my cell phone was plugged into the aforementioned outlet, but no longer charging. After tinkering for a moment, it dawned on me that my wife must have sprayed the outlet, thus shorting it out, and now I would have to spend the time which I don’t have to rewire the outlet and fix her careless mistake. As I picked up the phone to rattle off a very angry text message to her, I stopped myself and realized that would not accomplish anything. Long story short, I plugged the phone into an adjacent outlet near the sink and noticed that the ground fault had been tripped. Sure enough the other outlet started to work, thus deducing that the outlet was fine, but somehow the wiring of the two were linked and the safety feature of one had caused the other to stop.
    The point I make is this, sometimes (who am I kidding MOST of the time!) it’s best to shut up, evaluate the decision, and take the high road. I recall hearing that Abraham Lincoln would often employ this strategy and it was found that, after his death, there were countless letters that were never sent. (Also if I recall correctly, it was Mary Lincoln who had intercepted them in the mail!)
    I too am still in training, but thank God I’m learning!

  30. Darren, I can SO relate to this! I find when my wife (also being the more evolved in the relationship) begins to back away from an argument or disagreement, it is typically because she is the one displaying the better judgement. She, like Georgia, prefers peace and happiness over righteousness and triumph. Thank goodness for supportive (and complementary) spouses!
    PS: Enjoyed meeting you in LA a couple of weeks ago!

  31. Ha! What a great story Darren – thanks for sharing! There’s a great customer service/sales lesson in your tale as well. Have you ever been to a store and the sales “professional” vehemently tells you that you are wrong about a fact or a belief about a product? I have – and I normally exit the store and allow the clerk to be “right”. Of course, it’s too late when he realizes that being right cost him the sale! So there he smugly sits gloating in his victory as his commission happily marches out the door.

    Carpe diem!


  32. A great leader (and man) admits his mistakes and being wrong – ESPECIALLY when he was SO SURE he was right! You do have a long way to go Darren but at least you can admit it! hahahahha Great story.

  33. That is so funny and unfortunately so true of me and my beloved also! I can honestly say that I am married to the nicest guy in the world because he constantly says “If you are happy honey I am happy” and you know, he really means it. I still like to be right though. I’ll remember this lesson the next time I attempt to argue over something that is just not worth it (as most things are). Thanks for sharing. BTW we will be in San Diego in August, what is the name of the restaurant? Would love to try it.