Reality Check: The Urgent Request

“Trust you are well and keeping safe. Please I need your urgent assistance. Kindly get back to me. Thanks.”
If you received those words in a message from a friend, what would you do?
You’d probably kindly get back to them, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. You want to help people, especially people whom you consider your friends.
So when I got that message, my response was essentially, “Of course. What do you need?”
The next message gave it all away. My “friend” needed a gift card, urgently, for her niece.
Yeah, right. The likelihood that my friend, who lives in Montreal surrounded by family, friends, and professional colleagues, would reach out to me with an urgent need for a gift card are pretty much zero. Zip. Nada.
The fact that I had responded at all to the initial message reminded me of the power of impulse. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Why Not Ask?

“I’m not going to bother asking because I know what I’ll hear.”
Have you ever held back from making a request using that reasoning? For example, “I won’t bother to ask for a refund because I know it will be denied.”
Yet, how do we “know”? How can we be sure of the outcome of a request unless we ask? Perhaps we are working under the misperception that we can read minds. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Another Positive to Negative Ratio

Last time, I had suggested an experiment for you to try if you have a relationship that you’d like to improve. Essentially, the experiment starts by keeping track (in your mind) of how often you offer a “compliment” (encouragement, appreciation, or positive statement) compared to how often you offer some sort of criticism.
Sometimes, just keeping track leads to an improvement. And if it does turn out that you see that your interactions in the relationship are skewed toward the critical comments versus the appreciative, then it could be worth making an effort to change that. Deliberately increase the positive comments and hold off on some of the criticisms. See what happens.
This sort of experiment probably won’t do any harm, and if it improves the relationship even a tiny bit, it could be well worth the effort.
Does that sound like a manipulative approach to getting the improved relationship that you want? I’m always wary of manipulation—underhanded attempts to trick someone into doing what you want them to do. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Ratios and Relationships

I’ll bet you were hoping for a math lesson today, so here you go: A ratio is essentially a pair of numbers that defines a relationship.
And we all know that the value and quality of our relationships plays a big role in how happy and satisfied we are in our lives, don’t we?
Granted, the “relationships” that we usually associate with ratios don’t tend to be people-focused relationships. They’re more about down-to-earth, tangible things, like figuring out how much oil to put in your chain saw gas or what the pitch of your roof needs to be.
However, if you want to try improving a personal relationship, there is a ratio that could be helpful to keep in mind. Let’s call it the “compliment to criticism” ratio. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Essential Connections

When things are going well, some of us don’t feel a great need to seek out connections with others. We’re content to forge along and make our progress without a great deal of interaction.
When things are going badly however, there may be a stronger inclination to feel connected to a community of like-minded and good-spirited people. While it’s always comforting to know that you have people in your life who have your best interests at heart, it’s particularly helpful when you are feeling vulnerable.
Speaking of how things are going, what’s your perception? Are things getting better? Getting worse? Same old, same old? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Resources and Resourcefulness

Picture yourself stranded on a desert island (or an island off Nova Scotia.) As you are “stranded,” it’s implied that you didn’t intend to be in this situation and it’s definitely not what you want.
Now what do you do? You have choices, of course.
One choice would be to sit on the shore and cry. Some of us might start with that, even if only for a few minutes.
You could choose to be grateful for the positive aspects that you can find in the situation. Perhaps you’ve landed uninjured. The island doesn’t have poisonous snakes, spiders or other predators. Even in this gloomy situation, there can still be plenty to be grateful for when you look for the positive elements.
Taking that further, you could choose to perceive this as an unexpected vacation! At last, solitude! I imagine most of us would view that response as absurd. However, it is a perception that you could choose if you want to. That perspective may even work well for a while. That is, until you get hungry, thirsty, sunburned, cold, hot, or the mosquitos find you. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Our Best Selves

What comes to your mind when I refer to our best selves?
Is our best self when we “put our best foot forward?” Perhaps so. However, if putting our best foot forward is only to make a good impression—essentially, to put on a show for someone—then that doesn’t necessarily correspond to our genuine best self.
From my perspective, our best self emerges when we are the best person we can be. Because we all have different gifts and characteristics, my best self could be quite different from your best self. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Building Purpose

Some building materials are in scarce supply at the moment. Rumour has it that’s because there are a lot of home improvement projects going on. With schedules disrupted during the pandemic, it seems like everyone and their dog is using this time to build. This strikes me as a constructive response, so to speak.
Farther afield, you may have observed that there is a lot of anger and resentment in some groups of society. There are also plenty of smart people talking about why this is, whose fault it is, and what “we” can do about it.
Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory suggests that there are five basic human needs. I return to this idea over and over, as it helps me understand so much about human behaviour. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Off the Rails?

The opportunity to spend time with our thoughts can be marvellous. It’s a chance to examine our lives and our relationships. We can think about what we want and where we want to go. We could look at the choices we’ve been making, and whether they are leading us toward where we want to go or whether we might want to make some changes.
On the other hand, the opportunity to spend time in introspection can also be upsetting. We might spend our time ruminating about past difficulties and resentments. Maybe we are filled with fearful thoughts about the future and we envision our prospects and situations pessimistically.
Life is full of those double-edged swords, isn’t it? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Upsides and Downsides of Filters

Even inanimate objects are not immune to the changes of time. My reminder of that came recently when I tried to listen to an old speech recorded on VHS tape.
Magnetic tapes deteriorate even when not used. Those words from long ago which I’m sure were inspirational are now garbled; barely intelligible.
As I can’t control further deterioration, I decided to write down as much of the speech as I could hear so I would at least preserve the message. I played and replayed the tape, but still could only make out bits and pieces. So I used audio software to try to make it clearer. Continue reading

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