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Be Right AND Be Happy October 1, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

The question “would you rather be right or happy?” implies that we can be one OR the other, but NOT both.

But what if they aren’t mutually exclusive objectives?

Little-Miss-BrainyThe left brain is concerned with judgment.  It looks at life through the FILTER of past experience.

And, like the Ego, it wants to be right . . . at any cost.

In contrast, the right brain is concerned with experiencing the moment . . . the only place happiness resides.

It grooves to tunes, savors food, and gets inspired by nature by staying in direct contact with the NOW.

Tigger-BouncingIt doesn’t evaluate, judge, or superimpose the past on the present.

It doesn’t worry about the future.

So, what happens when we move from left brain analysis to right brain experiential living?

We are happy being right ~> right here and now!

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Val Boyko - October 1, 2015

Love this Nancy! When we let go of analysis and judgments we can really savor the present moment. Thanks for the brain tickler this morning 😄

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

As Jill Bolte Taylor discovered when she had a stroke:

“By stepping to the right of our left brains, we can all uncover the feelings of well-being and peace that are so often sidelined by our own brain chatter.”

It’s a great break.

Val Boyko - October 1, 2015


2. Don - October 1, 2015

Nancy, I love what you say, but also a little uneasy. Not sure that you mean it this way, but I sense a bit of a dualism here between left and right brain. I prefer an integrated whole between left and right. But then perhaps I’m becoming too intense about something that really doesn’t need that kind of thinking – forgive me if I am. 🙂

Hariod Brawn - October 1, 2015

Don, yes – I have posted a link below for all the dreary detail!

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

No worries, Don.

Jill Bolte Taylor loved living in la la land. Neverthelss, she worked for 8 years to regain what she’d lost:

“The beauty of La-la land (my right hemisphere experience of the present moment) was that everything was an explosion of magnificent stimulation and I dwelled in a space of euphoria. This is great way to exist if you don’t have to communicate with the external world or care whether or not you have the capacity to learn. I found that in order for me to be able to learn anything, however, I had to take information from the last moment and apply it to the present moment.”

“Over time, I regained the ability to weave moments back together to create an expanse of time, and with this ability came the ability to learn methodically again.”

“Life in La-la land will always be just a thought away, but I am truly grateful for the ability to think with linearity once again.”


Don - October 5, 2015

Thank you for that Nancy. I understand that.

3. Hariod Brawn - October 1, 2015

The Left Brain/Right Brain analysis of popular psychology is largely a myth – useful up to a point, perhaps, but with no grounding in actuality. It began in the 1800’s and gained ground in the 1960’s with the split-brain experiments of Gazzaniga and Sperry; but they were about function, with no implications whatsoever for personality types. I think you are talking about function here Nancy, so I am not undermining your thesis in relaying this. I have a vague recollection that we have gone over this before at my place, but I may be wrong. Here is the boring detail anyway:


nrhatch - October 1, 2015

As a brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor had a unique ring-side seat to the phenomenon of SHIFT when she had a stroke:

“Taylor alternated between two distinct and opposite realities: the euphoric nirvana of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace; and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognized Jill was having a stroke, and enabled her to seek help before she was lost completely.”

When meditating, I experience the well-being and peace so often sidelined by brain chatter. I envision that transition as a SHIFT from left to right brain. For that reason I find the right brain/left brain analysis to be a useful hook to hang my hat on when I’m thinking too much (or desiring to be right when doing so is detracting from rather than adding to my happiness and the happiness of those around me).

You’re right, we did talk about it before ~> but I wasn’t convinced you were “right.” :mrgreen:

Hariod Brawn - October 1, 2015

Yes, I know you like Bolte-Taylor’s analysis Nancy, as do I her very moving TED talk – but that was necessarily condensed for public consumption, and Nibbana isn’t anything to do with brain lateralisation. I think she may have used that term somewhat euphemistically for complex and rare brain states. Who knows? But Nibbana is not a state of euphoria, that much I do know, and although there may at times be correlations with such brain states, Nibbana is, by its very definition, uncaused. As to me being ‘right’ or not, that is not relevant, as I am merely pointing to the research, which of course may be more or less accurate at any point in time.

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

Well . . . this blog post is ALSO “condensed for public consumption.” :mrgreen:

Rather than getting bogged down in linguistics, I’m going to go find something to SMILE about. 😉

Don - October 5, 2015

I really enjoyed the link Hariod. Thank you for that.

4. Jill Weatherholt - October 1, 2015

I love to be right! 🙂 Great post, Nancy!

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

Thanks, Jill!

Here’s to making an end run around the monkey chatter to uncover the peace and stillness that lies waiting when we are more right. 😎

5. livelytwist - October 1, 2015

Interesting. I like to use the left and right sides of my brain… together 🙂

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

From a previous post:

Although the spheres exist side by side and are intrinsically equal, we often flex the muscles of the left while the right brain atrophies. As we age, the monkey chatter of the left brain with its constant labeling and worrying and judging often drowns out the right brain.

It’s a bit like the game “Rock, Paper, and Scissors.”

The right brain is the rock, our silent inner core. The left brain assumes the role of paper . . . covering the rock and holding it captive.

If we allow the left brain to operate on auto-pilot, it dominates our thoughts and reinforces that dominance by firing its synapses constantly.

Instead of appreciating art and music “as is,” we put them under a microscope, dissecting and labeling the notes, the brush strokes, the meter, the colors, the clef, the composer, and/or the artist.

If we stay tuned to this Chatty Cathy, we miss the moment and all it offers. We are too busy worrying about whether it’s going to rain tomorrow to see the glorious sunset today.

If we want more balance and less stress in our lives, we need to flow between the two hemispheres.

We need to use the right brain to see and enjoy this moment and the left brain to help us learn from the past and share our thoughts with others through language.


6. L. Marie - October 1, 2015

That’s great advice on so many levels, Nancy.

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

Thanks, Linda. Here’s to “letting go” and “going with the flow.”

7. Mel Morfitt - October 1, 2015

Nice reframe!

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

Thanks, Mel. I just read your recent post on SUPPORT. Loved it. Most people seeking support are seeking for us to validate the stories they are creating about the “what is.” Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is point out the holes in those stories.


8. Carol Ferenc - October 1, 2015

I’m reminded of an attraction at Epcot years ago called “Cranium Command.” Not sure if it’s still there but it portrayed an adolescent boy coping with his day while his left and right brain crews fought for control. Hysterical!

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

Thanks, Carol. Cranium Command sounds like the movie Inside Out . . . which I haven’t seen yet.

“I” = an amalgamation & conglomeration of competing interests.

9. diannegray - October 1, 2015

I’m dealing with someone at the moment who needs to be right no matter what. There is no happiness in that,,,

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

It’s exhausting to be around people who insist on “being right” no matter how WRONG they are. 😛

10. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - October 1, 2015

Nice! Love how you wrapped that up nicely! I think it is so easy to make things difficult in our lives, and we really don’t have to! I am going to be happy , in the here and now!

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

Allowing ourselves a bit more “breathing room” pays dividends.

11. Tiny - October 1, 2015

I loved Jill Bolte Taylor’s book. Inspirational …at so many levels.

nrhatch - October 1, 2015

It made me appreciate (once again) how amazing our brains really are . . . and how we can improve our life by controlling the stories we tell ourselves about the “what is.”

12. Behind the Story - October 1, 2015

“Being right” has the connotation of holding tight to a frozen understanding of the truth. Pride makes us hold on. But the truth changes and grows. It has many perspectives. If we live simply, open to what is without grasping it, we will find truth and happiness.

nrhatch - October 2, 2015

Yes! When we remain open to the “what is,” we see no need to defend our glorious and fragile Egos from a difference in perspective. Since we are not protecting our changing reputations, we listen, learn, and grow better.

“A man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” ~ Muhammad Ali

13. Debra - October 2, 2015

I also really appreciated, and learned quite a lot, from Jill Bolte Taylor. I think she was the first person to really emphasize to me how much I had been living out of left brain thinking. I sometimes have to remind myself that I have a whole other hemisphere that would like to be let out to play! 🙂 Super post, Nancy. And good timing…I still couldn’t come to an answer for your previous post. Seems you’ve answered it right here and quite well. 🙂

nrhatch - October 2, 2015

Thanks, Debra! I’ve struggled with that question ~ not liking the idea of trading in my smarts, even if it meant I’d be the “happiest idiot” on the planet.

So, it’s balance I’m after ~ being aware of nonproductive thinking that detracts from happiness so I can flip the switch and take a break. Here’s to expanding our happiness and our horizons by letting go of thoughts that linger.

14. kateshrewsday - October 2, 2015

I love this, Nancy. I am extremely, rather too right brain. But that does mean I get to be very happy a lot of the time, though wrong much of it.

nrhatch - October 2, 2015

When I visualize right brain activity, I see a young child playing, caught up in the moment, fully engaged in the flow of life, happy and laughing. So immersed in an enjoyable activity that time ceases to exist and the rest of the world falls away.

Not a bad place to be. :mrgreen:

15. reocochran - October 4, 2015

I like your perspective on right and left brains. I embrace we are happy being right here and now. Sure “beats the alternative!” 🙂

nrhatch - October 4, 2015

The best way to add to the world’s happiness ~> Be Happy!

16. NancyTex - October 9, 2015

I think it’s easier to obsess over every little thing when you’re bored or idle. these days I’m so unbelievably busy and feeling pretty overwhelmed, but yet…little things are making me ridiculously happy. I’m talking noticing a great color in the garden or finding a small piece of the cheese I was craving is still in the fridge. I bust out into the goofiest grin and just feel sheer joy for a split second. 🙂

nrhatch - October 10, 2015

Great comment, NT!

Simple pleasures are life treasures!
Especially C~H~E~E~S~E!

Boredom may fuel the flames of Ego’s discontent . . . as it looks around for its next fix. But being too busy (and STRESSED) can also get in the way of mindfully seeing the moment.

And when we miss the moment, we don’t get to savor the tiny morsels and drops of JOY scattered through our days.

17. jannatwrites - October 15, 2015

I’m still way behind on reading but I’m glad I read this one. Love the idea of right brain experiential living 🙂

nrhatch - October 15, 2015

Me too! Thinking can lead us down rutted paths. Living in the moment allows us to experience NOW “for the very first time.”

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