Am I Looking for What's Right,
or Am I Looking for What's Wrong?

Debbie Ford

The question "Am I looking for what's right or am I looking for what's wrong?" has the power to shift a moment of despair into a moment of delight.  When we look for what's right, we consciously refocus the lens of our perceptions.  Suddenly we are able to see the good in every situation and every person.  For most of us, looking for what's right is not our natural way of viewing the world.  In fact, most of us are trained to scan for what's wrong in any given relationship or situation.  But when we make the choice to look for what's right, a whole new reality emerges.

People who are successful in life look for what's right.  Let me give you an example.  There are more than seven hundred realtors in the seaside village of La Jolla, California, where I live, and probably less than twenty who do most of the business.  I had the privilege of working with one of these twenty, a man by the name of Ozstar Dejourday.  Every time I reached Ozstar's voice mail, I was greeted by his upbeat voice.  "Thank you for calling.  Wow, what a great life we have living in beautiful La Jolla, California!"  Just hearing this message inspired me to stand up tall, put a smile on my face, and breathe in with gratitude.  Ozstar is a man who looks for what's right.

One day I asked Ozstar to share with me what inspires him to bring his infectious positive attitude to everyone he meets.  I wanted to discover what powerful lens he looks through that causes him to see life as such a magical parade.

He looked at me, and with a big grin on his face he said, "Your eyes, your mind, and your heart were given to you for free and so was the air, the water, and the sunlight.  How could you not be grateful for all those precious gifts?  That's why the words thank you are the most important ones in any language.  When we say, "Thank you," we are present to all our gifts and the love that we share."  Ozstar's refreshing perspective reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, by Marcel Proust:  "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

When we are looking for what's right, we invite life to shower us with all its many gifts.  Looking for what's right opens our hearts and allows us to live in a state of gratitude for what we have.  It lets us appreciate the little things that bless us every day.  It causes us to stop taking for granted the many gifts in our lives.  Just think of all the things we have to be grateful for!  The fact that you are reading this article means that you have the ability to read, as well as the resources to access the Internet.  Your heart is pumping, your lungs are breathing, and you have the priceless ability to see, feel, taste, and smell.  These are extraordinary gifts!  The state of gratitude lives within each of us, and when we stop and ask this question, we gain immediate access to the level of consciousness where love and gratitude reside.  When we look for what's right, we inspire our children, our friends, our co-workers, and our communities.

Looking for what's right is an art that takes practice.  But here is the payoff:  when we look for what's right, we feel good, strong, and worthy.  When we look for what's wrong, we feel bad, resigned, and disappointed.

It's easy to look for what's wrong.  For most of us, this is our default way of viewing the world.  We are experts at describing in great detail what isn't right about our jobs, our mothers, our relationships, our teachers, our children, our bodies, our government, and our bank accounts.  When we look for what's wrong, we choose to view our lives through the narrowest possible lens, zooming in on the places where our expectations haven't been met, where others have failed to meet our needs, where the world doesn't look the way we have decided it should.  When we're looking for what's wrong, our eyes focus on the negative qualities of others, spotting their weaknesses and their incompetencies.

In addition to immediately shifting our perspective and thus our mood, what this question does is show us that maybe--just maybe--what's wrong is not "over there" with others.  Maybe the problem lives not outside us but rather in our own lenses, the ones through which we choose to view the world.  We can easily argue against this point and say that our spouses are wrong, that our bosses are wrong, and that the waitress who brought the wrong kind of salad dressing is wrong, too.  But what we can be assured of is that if we look for what's wrong in any given situation, we will find it.  And then our experience will be one of disappointment and discontent.

The moment we find something wrong, we automatically point our fingers in blame at the other person or the situation.  It's so easy to find fault.  Finding fault with others is the lazy person's out.  I've done it a million times myself.  I've pointed my finger at others instead of taking responsibility for the reality I see.  I have been guilty of blaming my boss, my boyfriend, my coach, and even my mother for my discontent.  Making others wrong becomes an excuse we use to justify our moods and bad behavior.  By focusing on what's wrong, we avoid taking responsibility. . . .

We must all ask ourselves what would happen if we changed the lens through which we view the world.  How would our lives alter if we saw out co-workers as divine beings who are here to impart essential wisdom to us?  What would happen if we listened to our neighbors as though they were the wisest people in the world?  Would they show up any differently than they do right now?  What would be possible if we approached our partners as though their soul purpose was to bring us ecstasy and joy?  What would we hear?  What would we see?  What would be possible?  Looking for what's right is a life-enhancing choice--a choice that promises peace, contentment, and fulfillment.

The realities of the life we live today are a result of the choices we made yesterday, three months ago and three years ago. But we don't wind up in debt because of one extravagant purchase. Nor do we put on 30 unwanted pounds as a result of a couple of decadent meals. We are where we are because of repeated unconscious choices made day after day. Ford cuts right through our denial with the 10 questions that immediately reveal the true motivations behind our thoughts and actions. But more than that, by rigorously and honestly asking and answering these 10 vital questions, we regain control and have the power necessary to create the life we always wanted.


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