Reality Check: The Happiness Benefit

Does happiness benefit happy people? Or is it the benefits that happy people have that cause their happiness? It’s the happiness version of the chicken and egg question; which comes first: the happiness or the benefits?
For example, a happy person likely has at least one close friend. Having friends can satisfy the need that we have for love and belonging. This satisfied need can inspire us to support, encourage and care deeply for our friends, which then reinforces the friendships. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Choices in Conflict

What does it mean to win a conflict?
Does it mean that you prevailed on the issue, i.e. got your way?
Does it mean that you are recognized by others as the clear victor while your opponent is humiliated?
Perhaps you see winning as the outcome that happens when both proponents are able to walk away with heads high, having reached an agreement that both can live with, even if neither achieved exactly what they had hoped to get.
Different situations call for different approaches. In true choice theory style, I’m going to suggest that your choice of approach will be most effective if you start by asking yourself, “What do I want?” Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Reality of Imperfection

There’s plenty in society, culture, politics, education and life in general that’s not perfect. I don’t believe that it’s ever been perfect. I highly doubt that it ever will be perfect in the future.
Furthermore, my views of what constitutes perfection could be quite different from yours. So even if something did manage to meet my standard of perfection, it may fall far short from your point of view. And then there are all of those other people in the country or even around the globe; each one with their own opinions on how things ought to be.
Granted, there are plenty of opportunities for improvement. You can probably think of a few people whose behaviour you’d like to see improved. I’m well aware that even my own behaviour could stand some improvement.
We could respond to the reality of all of this imperfection with anger, despair, or pessimism. Plenty of people do respond in those ways. They spend their time bemoaning what they see: resenting the present, fearing the future. At some point, a person who maintains that outlook may come to realize that they are leading a pretty miserable, unsatisfying life.
If you find yourself trapped in an unhappy, pessimistic mindset and you would like to change it, here’s a question you might consider. Continue reading

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Reality Check: To Grow Accountability

I have many good intentions. Perhaps you do, too!
Those intentions include plans for what I will do for others as well as what I need or want to do for myself. They range from lofty to mundane; from developing new skills to cleaning under the sink.
Big or small, they are all good intentions and I truly intend to do them someday. When I have time.
If you also have a collection of undone good intentions, then I can assure you that you are not alone. While the wording may differ, a recurring theme that I hear is, “I know I need to get started but…” Continue reading

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Reality Check: Relationships and the Bottom Line

When we talk about improving relationships, you might think it’s touchy-feely advice for personal relationships.
However, we have business relationships, too. Is your workplace filled with good relationships? Or does it have its share of poor, dysfunctional relationships?
Pretty much every workplace involves people working with people. How well we get along makes a difference. It’s a more pleasant work environment if everyone gets along, but that’s not all. There’s also the issue of productivity. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Structure for a Satisfying Life

The upside of dissatisfaction is that it can be a useful motivator to drive improvement. That’s grasping at straws to find a positive spin, isn’t it? Seriously though, if we had no dissatisfaction, why would we ever improve?
One area where I could improve is my use of time. There’s not enough time; yet I know I waste time. Sadly, as I’m the only person accountable for my use of time, I can’t even find someone else to blame. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Choosing Hope

Catastrophizing. It’s a dramatic word, isn’t it?
When we look ahead, whether it’s to a new year or just an ordinary new day, we can look with a perspective that’s filled with hope for the promise of things to come. Or we can look with an eye to all the terrible things that just might happen.
In Choice Theory, Dr. Glasser promotes the use of active language. For example, rather than, “I’m anxious,” he’d suggest “I’m anxietying.” Or rather than, “I’m angry” it would be, “I’m angering.”
The purpose of these odd-sounding words is to reinforce to us that we are not necessarily passive victims of feelings over which we have no control. If it is within our control to choose “anxietying” for example, then it follows that it is also within our control to choose something else—something that could be more effective for our lives. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Look Back, What Do You See?

As we approach the end of another year, many of us like to take stock. Part of taking stock involves looking back over the past year or over many past years, to assess where we’ve been and where we are now.
When we look back, what do we see? Have we been gifted with good times? Or bad? Have our relationships improved? Or deteriorated? Have we lost or have we gained? Are we making progress or regressing?
Tied in with all of those assessments is this interesting question: How much control do we have over what has happened, anyway? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Gift of Recognition

When you flip through the flyers, watch TV, or even read a newspaper at this time of year, you’ll see gift suggestions. There’s lots of opportunity to show that you care by buying something.

As I was pondering gift-shopping, some recent conversations about “stuff” also came to mind. Many of us who have accumulated years of life have also accumulated years of stuff.

That stuff had value when we acquired it—either sentimental or monetary. Some stuff may have come into our lives during times of little money, giving it an even higher perceived value.

Times change. Tastes change. And along comes a recognition by many that we don’t need or want more stuff. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Feelings for the Future

Imagine the future. Maybe your daydreams are happy ones—winning the lottery, lazing on sandy beaches surrounded by loving friends and family. It’s a future with happiness, health, and good will.

Or perhaps the future that springs to mind is filled with worrying scenarios and “What if” questions. What if my child gets sick? What if my spouse leaves? What if I lose my job? What if I run out of money?

Or maybe your imagined future conjures up depressing, downcast feelings of, “I’ll be miserable. Nobody will love me. Things will turn out badly.”

If you spend a lot of time imagining a miserable future, then you might wish you could stop doing that. Not easy though, is it? Even when we know that a practice is not helpful, it’s still hard to change. Continue reading

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