Bricks and mortar make a house, but the laughter of children makes a home.

~ Irish Proverb ~

Would You Rather Be Right Even if You Were Wrong?

December 5th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 44 secs

Are we more happy in denial than being honest?

Going for a walk early this morning, the chilled air was turning our talk into vapor. As we picked our way along the path, we dodged the puddles and frost covering the ground. It was cold.

Then along came a big dog, racing along the track. Tongue lolling, happy, and ready for action. Being a “dogs on leash only” zone, plastered with signs, it doesn’t happen often. So when the jogging owner approached a short time later, I smiled and said, “You need to put your dog on a leash.

His response was “Who cares? They wouldn’t bother in Europe.”

It was an interesting response.  Knowing he was doing the wrong thing, he chose to deflect responsibility, blaming anyone who cared and the laws of the land because neither suited.

Which is something we all tend to do. Throwing in some justification for our own mistakes or foibles, we like to blame someone else. Then we can take the high ground of being right, even when we’re wrong. On the face of it, it’s a strange way of keeping the happy feelings going.

Why do we do this? I suspect there’s a bit of canny mental gymnastics going on in our head, trying to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable. If we admit, like the jogger with his unleashed dog, that we sometimes get things wrong, we’re exposed. Our ego is open to attack and that is not a happy prospect.

So it’s easier to deflect the responsibility away, sometimes to the point of justifying the outrageous. Perhaps that’s why people say things like:

“How can I be happy? My teeth are bad because of all that pocket money my parents gave me when I was a kid”,

‘This place is a dump because you tidied up. Now, when I can’t find stuff, I have to take the place apart because of you”,

“Officer, I will be happy to explain what happened. A pedestrian came out of nowhere and suddenly hit my car”,


“Boss, I can’t come to work because I’m having an unlucky day. I took the cat to the vet because it got drunk on the beer we left out in the garden to kill the slugs.”

So next time someone offers a lame excuse, realize that beneath all the bravado and blaming, they know. They just don’t want to admit it. There’s no need to prove anything when denial says it all.



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