When Is Being Right Wrong?

The place I’m living in for the last two years, in Valencia, is really small. It has a few advantages, but space isn’t one of them. The kitchen is so tiny, it can barely hold two people at the same time. Being so small, it means you can reach to anything you need without moving around, everything is at arm’s length. But if someone else wants to cook with you, it gets crowded. Luckily, I’m alone there, most of the time.

As tiny as it is, I love that kitchen. Sometimes I think I love it not despite its lack of comfort, but because of it. It kinda forces me to stay alert and aware. I don’t have distractions, I don’t have to spend extra time and attentions just to find a knife, or check on the boiling pan. It’s fitting me perfectly.

Probably because of this lack of distractions, I surprise myself thinking all sorts of strange things when I’m cooking. Which is happening every day, since the beginning of the pandemic (restaurants are closed at the moment, and I don’t want to buy food to go when I can cook something better myself). Also, I’m not a big fan of diversity, so I’m cooking more or less the same thing every day. It’s convenient.

So, I’m in there alone, cooking almost on autopilot, and letting my mind wander around.

Today I thought about when being right is wrong.

I know it takes a little time to understand what I mean. No rush. Read that again.

I Know I’m Right. And That Might Be Wrong

We all want to be right about things. We need certainty. We need predictability to survive – and to make sense of the world. Correctly assessing a situation, any situation, is part of our surviving toolset. In time, we perfect that skill and we get to a point where we start to “get it”. We understand what’s going on. We’re right most of the time.

But what happens when us being right is actually wrong?

For instance, we may be right about exercising every day. We tested this activity for years, and now we know it’s the right thing to do. But what if, in the grand scheme of things, that hour a day we spend exercising, would be much better spent learning a new skill, or just building a strong network? Like in we’re right about exercising, but we’re spending too much time doing that?

What if, instead of exercising every day, we exercise every other day and use the remaining time for the things I noted above? In the grand scheme of things, we may get a better exposure to other life opportunities. How do we know which is the right amount, like the really right amount of time we should spend exercising?

As I was taking small bites from my cheese, complemented with the contrasting taste of the grapes, I continued to sip on my glass of red wine. I have this ritual, yeah, during cooking I sip a little bit of wine, along with tiny bites of grapes and matured cheese. And then followed my stream of thoughts.

It may be that our anxious need to be right all the time makes us sacrifice long term opportunities for the comfort of short term predictability? Are we biased towards immediate solutions, sacrificing potentially better, but long term outcomes?

But then, if I’m right, and we really are wired to function like this – and me being right might be wrong – the opposite might actually true, meaning short term survival is more important than long term planning.

Oh, the conundrum…

Luckily, my fish was already cooked in the pan, I could clearly see it from where I was standing, and there was still some wine left in the glass. No cheese, though. No grapes, either.

Suddenly, I wasn’t concerned with being right anymore. Nor with being wrong for being right.

For a little while, I was just being.

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