At first, I thought the question was bullshit and the worst use of moral relativism. I thought he was suggesting we act selfishly since there’s no objective right or wrong. But my friend and Shakespeare agree. As the Bard penned it and Hamlet reminds us, “there is nothing good or bad, only thinking makes it so.”I found that both my friend and Bill Shakespeare were on to something. I saw why his question was far wiser than I’d given my friend credit.
Usually, to be right implies that you know the Truth and the other person is denying it, or arguing against it. To be right also assumes the Truth is knowable. I would caution you against such hubris. Facts are knowable and can be proven. But the Truth seems to evade human detection like silence avoids the Gym.
To be happy suggests your satisfaction is at hand, your mind/body are cooperating, and “you” are in a place of joy, reverence or dedicated labor. Happiness flourishes when your relationship to your inner world and outer world are in a pleasing balance, when your sense of self is unchallenged by fear or negativity.
When we draw it out like that it’s easy to see why we prefer to be happy more than right. Our pretty little lies are like ball bearings beneath the weight of our happiness. They ease its burden and help it roll easily forward into the future.
Make no mistake. I’m not suggesting you lie maliciously to others. Nor am I suggesting you change the details of a story, switch names or dates. Those are lies of omission, fabrication and worse yet, corruption. They are attempts at mind control. You are fertilizing the fields of opportunity in your favor.
Instead, learn to let pretty little lies pass easily over your lips. Learn to tell lies that make the world better not for you, primarily, but for both you and for others. Learn to say, “You know what? You’re right.” Learn to be happy, instead of right.
Art is a lie. Language is a lie. Every sensation you experience is a lie your mind filters, processes and creates for you to “feel.” Like, whatever you see is basically run through 137 Instagram filters before you “feel” so moved by the visual poetry of a sunset. But the fact our lives are shaped by lies should not be depressing. These lies are liberating. All the pretty little lies of life are no different than any sensation, such as that moment when you tug a cashmere sweater over your head and you “feel” comfy inside its warmth.
If it’s not the song but the singer, if it’s not what you say but how you say it, and if we all struggle with the Truth: How do you best express yourself?
Just lie pretty to me. (We can always look up facts.) Lie to set me free. Tell me “your truth.” And be brave about it. As long as it’s not a crime, let’s forget who was right and who was wrong. Instead, think of what you intend to say, reflect on how I’m likely to hear it, frame it like a photo so I’ll focus on what you wish me to concentrate on, and gift-wrap “your truth” in a pleasing package like the lyrics of a love song. If you tell me you know the Truth, I probably won’t believe you. Lie pretty to me and we’ll all be happy.