Reality Check: To Do What We Can

When I hung up the phone after a rather unsatisfying conversation with a company which shall remain nameless, I muttered to myself, “Well, at least I’ve done what I can.”
Granted, this didn’t turn my situation into sunshine and roses. However, it did give me a bit of satisfaction. The issue is not resolved, but maybe, possibly, eventually, it will be. In any case, it’s out of my control. I have had a reasonable conversation; I have registered my complaint; I can do no more. Does any of that sound familiar to you?
When we’ve done what we can, then we can move along. Right? Yet, it’s not always that simple in real life, is it?
Even after we’ve done what we can, we sometimes still feel dissatisfied. Why? Perhaps it’s because we’re not clear about what it means to do what we can. Continue reading

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Reality Check: What Does It Mean to Be Supportive?

The need for support seems to surround us. Perhaps you see the struggles of friends, family, or community members. There’s also media and social media telling us difficult stories of people around the world.
The challenges vary. Problems with physical health, mental health, poor relationships, fears, pessimism, grief, accidents, crime; there are so many people who could benefit from support of some kind. Many of us want to respond to those needs by being supportive.
But what does it mean to be supportive? What does support look like? What actions say, “I support you”?
While some types of support can be delivered by institutions such as government, non-profits, churches, volunteer organizations, let’s look at support that individuals can provide. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When “Don’t” Works

“Don’t” sounds like such a negative word, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s because it’s often used in commands, like “Don’t do that!” or “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”
It’s a word that shows up a lot when we try to control what others do (or don’t do.) I expect that you already have your own opinions about how well it works.
However, if we step away from attempting to use it to control others, “don’t” can be a valuable tool in our self-control toolbox. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Does Optimism Make a Difference?

Does optimism make a difference? That is, a positive difference? Or is optimism only for the naive and easily-led, those folks who aren’t wise enough to understand how really bad and awful and disastrous everything is?
If you’ve been reading these columns for a while, you already know my opinion, don’t you? I think that optimism does make a positive difference in our lives.
If you look back over your life, I suspect that you have spent some time in optimistic states, but also some time with pessimism. How are they different?
Let’s start with pessimism. When you are pessimistic, what do you see? How do you feel? What do you do? What words describe pessimism? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Blue Zones

If you were making a list of what you want most of all, you might include “a long, healthy life” on that list. You wouldn’t be alone. Considering that attempts to find the “fountain of youth” date back centuries, we know that the wish for longevity isn’t new.
With our near-instant world-wide communications, stories of illness and death can become overwhelming. And whether because of age or circumstance, you may find difficulties within the circle of people close to you as well. It can seem like everything is getting worse, never better. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Power of Presence

We have so many options in how we can communicate. There’s phone, text, video chat, email, interactions on social media sites.…We could even write a letter! One could easily get the impression that we run the risk of too much communication. We’re always in touch (or at least, potentially in touch.) We can hardly get away from each other. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Love Knot

In skilled hands, two pieces of rope can be manipulated in such a way that they resemble a pair of intertwined hearts. This is known as a love knot. Romantic, isn’t it?
A story told by E. Annie Proulx in “The Shipping News” adds another dimension to the story of the love knot. It goes like this: A sailor would tie a loose love knot and send it to his beloved. The love knot is essentially a question, asked in the language of rope. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Have You Had a Laugh Today?

There are times when laughter may be the furthest thing from our minds. We are, after all, mature responsible adults. We need to be sensible, serious, and handle things. We may not see much room or opportunity for the frivolity of laughter.
However, according to Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory, one of our basic needs is the need for fun. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Obstacle Course

There’s always something, isn’t there? Just when you think you’ve gotten more or less on top of things, some unexpected nuisance, or worse, pops up to demand attention. Like an incessant drum beat—one thing after another—adding to the pile of what must be handled. When we take a look at the road ahead, it can appear to be filled with obstacles.
Yet, we know that different people respond differently to their individual obstacle courses. Continue reading

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Reality Check: One Suggestion

Do you look forward to each day with optimism? Or do you anticipate it with dread? Maybe you’re thinking, “There’s no point in either worrying or anticipating; it will be what it will be.”
Here’s a bigger question: Does your mindset have any influence over events? I mean, if how we think has no effect on what actually happens, that puts a bit of a damper on the positive thinking hype, doesn’t it?
On the other hand, if how we think about people, events, possibilities, consequences, and opportunities does make a difference, then wouldn’t it be nice to have some control over it? Continue reading

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