The Choice Theory Attitude

Our attitudes make a difference in our lives. What role does attitude play in Choice Theory/Reality Therapy?

In a tiny book entitled Make Today Count, John Maxwell says, “Your attitude is a choice.” He recommends five attitude-related suggestions that dove-tail nicely with Choice Theory.

First: Take responsibility for your attitude. In Choice Theory, we say, “No one can make you happy (or unhappy, or any other state.)” You are in charge of your attitude, and how you choose will have an impact on whether your days are good days, bad days, or mediocre days.

Second: If you want to have better days, then look at and change your bad attitude areas. Is there an area of your life that always seems to put you “in a mood” (a bad one, that is)? According to Choice Theory, we have direct control over what we do and how we think. So whether it’s dreary weather that dumps you into a slump, or other people’s driving habits that raise your temper, recognize that you can choose to act or think differently about those events. What we do and think influences how we feel, so it’s more effective to do something toward cheering up, calming down, or however you want to be, than it is to try to change your feelings directly. And while change may not be easy, it may be worthwhile.

Third: Think and behave like the person you want to become. For example, if you would like to be a confident person, start thinking and acting like a confident person. “But I’m not confident,” you say. That’s OK. If you were confident, how would you be acting? What would you be thinking? Practice those behaviours.

Fourth: Value others. When you treat people well, do your days go well? Or badly?

Choice Theory states that the most important of our five basic needs is love and belonging. If we are to have any kind of satisfied life, we need to feel close and connected with the people we care about. How do we achieve that? It’s the quality of our interactions that set the tone.

Fifth: Appreciate life. When the going gets tough, it can be hard to appreciate anything. A devastating disease, loss of friend or family, or a significant setback can make it truly difficult to practice an attitude of appreciation. However, there are always things that one can appreciate. Is it worthwhile to give it a try? Only you can decide.

A colleague uses this line as her signature: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything that they have.”  If you find appreciation difficult, try concentrating on very small things that please you: birds, flowers, a kind word. It can help, really.

What attitudes do you think are consistent with Choice Theory?

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