Reality Check: Helpful Habits

What are your habits? What actions have you practiced so much that they are now a regular, perhaps even a mindless, part of life?
Some habits are deliberate; we’ve consciously initiated them. For example, perhaps you practice the beneficial habit of exercising every day. Previously, I have suggested writing three new things that we’re grateful for every day and found that to be a surprisingly useful new habit.
Habits can also be a little less beneficial. Maybe you have the habit of a cigarette after a meal or a big bowl of ice cream whenever you watch TV. Even if you don’t want that habit, it can be so engrained that it could feel as if you have no control over it. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Back to Basics

While browsing my bookshelf, I thought it time to reread one of the classics: Stephen Covey’s “First Things First.”
If you’re looking for help to live a satisfying life, Covey’s books are a good place to start. You won’t find a step-by-step formula, but you will find questions and suggestions to get you thinking.
There are both similarities and differences between Covey’s approach and Glasser’s (Reality Therapy) approach. For example, both identify basic human needs, but they do it differently.
Why bother discussing basic needs? If you’re feeling vaguely dissatisfied; when you have a gnawing feeling that something is “off” but you’re not sure what it is, then understanding your basic needs could help you identify gaps in your life. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Finding Affinity

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed, you know it’s not very pleasant. When you are faced with demands from all sides, unknowns about the future, all the uncertainties…It’s overwhelming.
As I was reviewing a tool used with teams to gather and group ideas, it occurred to me that this could also be useful for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed.
The tool is called an Affinity Diagram, and it’s really a process rather than a physical “tool.” It’s a modification of a method developed decades ago by a Japanese anthropologist, Jiro Kawakita. Although popular in some circles, it doesn’t seem widely known by the general public.
Heads-up—this process calls for a lot of sticky notes, so consider going to your favourite dollar emporium to stock up before you get started.
Here’s the general process when working with a team. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Strategies for Choice

Previously, I discussed a theory popularized by Barry Schwartz in, “The Paradox of Choice” that there are two choice-making approaches. Some people are maximizers; intent on making the absolute best choices they possibly can. Others are satisficers, who stop looking after they’ve found a choice that fits their criteria.
In this world of seemingly unlimited choices, satisficers have an easier time. They’re not so troubled by the fact that there are many options or whether they’ve made the perfect choice. They make a choice that works for them; stop looking and move on. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Do your choices satisfy you?

We make many choices—some consequential; others trivial. Does your choice-making process satisfy you? Or aggravate you? Or does it depend on the choice?
Barry Schwartz needed a pair of jeans. In the big scheme of things, picking out jeans isn’t a hugely consequential decision. But in his book, “The Paradox of Choice,” this shopping experience demonstrates the difficulties that even small choices can create for some people.
Schwartz walked into the store thinking he just wanted “jeans.” He didn’t realize that jeans come in a mind-boggling array of styles, fits, and finishes. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Joy of Ownership

The other day, while I was picking up trash by the roadside, I pondered the things that one tends to ponder while picking up trash by the roadside. For example, I pondered, “Why would anyone throw their trash on the side of the road?”
While it’s easy to believe, “People just don’t care,” a more in-depth inquiry might ask, “Why don’t they care?”
One possible answer that I thought of is perhaps some folks don’t have a sense of ownership. They don’t believe that the roadside belongs to them, and therefore take no pride in whether it’s tidy, trashy, or otherwise. “It’s not mine, so I don’t care,” may be the thought process.
When you don’t have any sense of ownership, you may also have no sense of accountability. What do you think of that as an explanation for some behaviours?
Now, how about applying the same rationale to feelings? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Both Sides True

When we have a disagreement, whether with an individual or a whole group of people, it’s common to think uncharitable thoughts about those on the other side.
After all, it goes without saying that we are correct on the issue. We’ve examined facts, or we’ve listened to people we trust, or we just have a gut feeling that we know the way things ought to be. We know that we are right.
And if we are right, if the facts/opinions/feelings are abundantly clear to us, then how can others not see things as we do? Are they willfully blind? Just not very smart? Or genuinely evil? Continue reading

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Reality Check: That Which Strikes Fear

Did you hear the story about the person who called police on a vacuum cleaner that was trapped in the bathroom?
Apparently, the resident could see shadows under the bathroom door. There was obviously something amiss; no one was supposed to be in there. Fearing a burglar, police were called. Continue reading

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Reality Check: What you see is…what you look for?

Last post, my focus was, “What you see is what you get.” This time, I’m looking at the connection between what we look for and what we see.
You’ve almost certainly experienced this connection. For example, if you walk a beach searching for sea glass, you often see it. If you have no interest in sea glass, you could walk beaches for miles and never know that sea glass even exists.
What we look for makes a difference in what we see. Continue reading

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Reality Check: What you see is what you get

WYSIWYG, pronounced “whizzywig,” means, “What you see is what you get.” I know the phrase from the olden days of computers—back when it was a big deal to have the display on the screen actually reflect what was printed. Computer technology has come a long way.
Some people use, “What you see is what you get” to describe themselves. (Here’s a little trivia gem: apparently it was Flip Wilson who made it popular.) WYSIWYG essentially declares, “This is who I am, no pretension, no airs, no hidden agendas. I truly am the face that I present to the world.”
There’s a positive to that, of course. People get to know you and trust that there’s no contradictory backstory.
As with so many positive actions, there can also be negative applications. Continue reading

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