Reality Check: Nourishing Recognition

Distressing stories abound of people who lack the food they need to nourish their physical bodies. Well-meaning people may ask, “What can I do?
Food deficiency is one example of scarcity. But there’s another area of scarcity where any of us could make a positive impact. It concerns people who are “starved” of recognition.
Basic human needs as described by Choice Theory include one referred to as “power.” The scope of this need is broad, but essentially, we need to know that we are recognized; that we matter. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Irrational Fears or Real Risks?

You may have heard that an increasing number of people are affected by anxiety, fears, worries of all kinds.
If you’re not one of those people, count yourself fortunate! Some people are not worriers. Whether it’s a personality type or learned behaviour, whether it comes from faith, family or your environment, freedom from worry is a gift.
Being tormented by fear is a worrying state. And worrying about your fear just makes it worse, right? One source of fear is imagining “what could happen.”
Despite (or perhaps because of) our ability to get news and information from many people, places, and viewpoints, it can be difficult to distinguish between real risks and irrational fears. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Big Value of Small Talk

Choice Theory suggests that people need good relationships to have a satisfying life. For one person, a good relationship might mean constant contact, where you share not only hopes and dreams but also the struggles and joys of everyday life. But for another, occasional contact with someone you like and trust is enough.
Regardless of the specifics, having even one good relationship can make a positive difference in our quality of life.
In some close relationships, we feel free to discuss the topics that we would never discuss with anyone else. The big issues: life, death, illness, money, hopes, fears, successes and failures; those are all fair game for conversation. Continue reading

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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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