Stop Arguing and Live a Happy Life

It’s been far too long since the last time I blogged. I’ve tried to write several times in the last month and given up within 10 minutes. Writing is only easy when you’re doing it routinely. The reason it’s been so long since my last post is that there’ve been some major changes in my life over the last few months.

I’m lived in Atlanta for about two months now and I firmly believe it is the greatest city in the country. The transition to the new job and city has taken up virtually all of my time. Now that things are cooling down and I’m settling into a groove, I plan to be posting far more regularly.

For today I’m going to write about a subject that I’ve addressed in the past but was reminded of a couple weekends ago. Some dear friends from back home in Auburn came into town to visit me. The plan was to watch the Auburn/A&M game in one of Atlanta’s few Auburn themed watering holes. I decided to invite a couple of the new friends I’ve made in Atlanta to join us.

It was a fantastic night. It was great to see old friends, beer was cheap, and the bar made me feel like I was back in Auburn rooting for the home team.

The only point in the night when I wasn’t having a great time, was when two of my friends got in an argument over a pretty complex moral issue. This wasn’t something that either side was going to agree on. By the end of the argument, each side was more entrenched in their original view. The only thing that changed was these two people were now pissed off at each other.

Never argue with people. It doesn’t do a damn thing. I first realized this when I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. Everyone who reads this book seems to get the same two things out of it. Don’t argue and don’t criticize. If you can learn to avoid these two, your ability to influence others and simply live a happy life will be drastically improved.

If your goal from talking to the other person is to change their mind, you’ve already lost. See it as a mutual exchange of ideas and nothing more. If the other person is in that aggressive argumentative mode, it’s probably best to just back off. Again, nothing good will come of it. You’ll most likely get riled up too. Even if you can avoid that, the other person is going to walk away resentful.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about new ideas or disagree with others. That’s the foundation of all progress and it’s an important mental exercise. I just know as soon as I stopped trying to force my opinions down other people’s throats, my life improved dramatically.

A big part of this is simply that it gives you a far more positive outlook on life and other people. Instead of being bitter about how wrong and supposedly less intelligent the rest of the world is, you see the best in other people and their beliefs. Second, it’s far better mindset for personal growth. You don’t have all the answers. It’s important to stay intellectually humble and to challenge your own beliefs when you hear an argument against them.

The best part, you can stop ruining relationships over touchy subjects! If someone is a positive influence in your life, keep them around. If they’re a negative influence, cut them loose. Don’t base your friendships on whether or not they have the exact same worldview as you.

If you’re looking for a challenge over the next week, here it is. Make a firm commitment to not criticize anyone. This alone is a nearly impossible goal to stay faithful to. Remind yourself of it every morning. Set it as the lock screen on your iPhone. Name your alarm “don’t criticize.” If you aren’t constantly reminding yourself, you’ll realize at the end of the week you only thought about it a couple times. The second challenge is to see every discussion you have over the next week as an opportunity to advance your beliefs and learn new things. You aren’t trying to convince anyone of anything. You can still absolutely disagree, but with the purpose of understanding their argument fully. Now you don’t want to live your whole life this way but I promise if you focus on this for a single week, the mindset will stick. Good luck!

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