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The Happiness Connection  

Should you wear a mask?

When I was married, my husband and I strongly disagreed about whether he was a pessimist or a realist.

We never resolved this debate.

Despite the time we spent presenting out arguments and trying to find holes in the other person’s thinking, neither of us ever changed our mind, or the other person’s.

It might surprise you to discover that according to John M. Gottman of the Love Lab research centre in Seattle, 69% of all marital conflict will never be resolved. The best thing you can do is agree to disagree.

That can be a hard thing to accept. You may find yourself shouting, cajoling, or criticizing your partner, believing you can achieve the impossible.

Your relationship isn’t the only place unresolvable conflict arises.

Think about:

  • Abortion
  • The death penalty
  • Wearing a mask

For every person who agrees, there’s someone who’s opposed.

Individuals choose a side based on their beliefs, values, and experiences. Once they take a stance, they dig in. They’re sure their viewpoint is right, which means the other perspective is wrong.

Humans have a strong desire to be right.

There are a few theories about why this is.

  • In primitive times, winning meant surviving. That instinct is still programmed into you and everyone else. Being right is perceived subconsciously as winning. It’s part of your survival instinct.
  • If you have a fixed mindset, being right is important. It shows everyone that you’re intelligent.
  • If you look to external sources to feel good about yourself, being right is a way of finding validation.

Wanting to be right means you believe anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. You don’t stop to consider that they might be thinking the exact same thing about you.

When you can see the sense of your reasoning so clearly, but the person on the opposing side can’t, it can be incredibly annoying. It’s like they’re deliberately trying to be stupid.

“Open your eyes people!”

Can you relate?

Negative emotions such as frustration, anger, arrogance, and anxiety, signal that your survival instinct has kicked in. You have a need to be right because winning means surviving.

You may have guessed what’s motivated me to choose this topic. In a time of uncertainty and challenge, ugliness has arisen over the question of whether you should have to wear a mask in public.

I want to start by saying I can see merits in both arguments. This isn’t about trying to persuade anyone to agree with one side or the other. I’m sitting squarely on the fence.

I’m not trying to convince you that sitting on the fence is right, either. This just happens to be where my beliefs, values, and experiences have brought me. I’m okay with wherever you stand.

What I’m struggling with is the loss of respect and compassion for people on the other side.

There isn’t a right and a wrong perspective; there are just different opinions. It’s like arguing over whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. I know from my debating days that you can find evidence to support whatever side you want to be on.

It’s time to stop fighting to be right.

If you’re caught up in this unresolvable conflict, start by recognizing what’s happening. It doesn’t matter how much you debate, argue, or scream, the other side isn’t going to shift their perspective, and neither are you. So, stop trying.

If you can grasp this principle and remove the negative emotions, you can move forward, rather than getting stuck.

You’re entitled to an opinion, but so is everyone else.

Regardless of your personal viewpoint, here are a few things to think about when it comes to whether or not you should wear a mask.

  • Accept the futility of trying to persuade anyone that you’re right and they’re wrong. You’re wasting your time and energy. There isn’t a good and a bad side; there are just different ones.
  • Reframe your social media posts. Your gratitude for family and friends who see sense is really saying you’re thankful that the people around you agree with your perspective.
  • Be respectful of another person or business’s choice. If they ask customers to wear a mask, that’s their right. It’s the choice of each individual to decide whether to give that company their business or not. Don’t fall back into thinking you can do something to change their mind.
  • If you want to be respected for your point of view, you need to extend the same courtesy to others. In British Columbia, we’re mandated to wear masks in public spaces; don’t berate people for choosing to comply. By the same token, don’t shout at people walking the streets without one.

When unresolvable conflict arises:

  • Take a step back and breathe.
  • Attempt to let go of your emotions and establish a sense of inner peace.
  • Ask yourself if you believe you’re right and the other side is wrong. Do you expect them to change their minds? Can they change yours?
  • Make choices that let your kindness and compassion shine through.

I’ve chosen to wear a mask when I’m in public. I view it as an act of kindness. It doesn’t harm me, it isn’t forever, and I only wear it for relatively short amounts of time. If this action makes even one person feel safer, then I’m happy with my decision.

You don’t have to think my choice is a good one; we can agree to disagree.



More The Happiness Connection articles

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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