Reality Check: Lost for Words?

Some people instinctively know the right thing to say in difficult situations. And then there are the rest of us; we who struggle to find words when the going gets tough.
Sadness, illness or loss will likely visit us and the people we love at some point. When it happens, it can be hard to know what to say. Combine that uncertainty with a fear of making things worse and some of us would rather avoid saying anything at all. Better to be quiet than hurtful, even inadvertently.
As an example, let’s say that our friend Lynn is going through a difficult time in her life. We want to provide some kind of support and encouragement. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Adapting for the Future

If you gained two pounds last weekend, will you weigh a hundred pounds more in a year? Look ahead twenty years. At that rate, you’ve expanded by 2000 pounds! That wouldn’t be a ton of fun, would it?
We know it’s absurd to project into the future that way. A change over a short time won’t necessarily continue at the same rate. While it’s possible that you could gain the hundred pounds, it’s also possible that something completely different will happen—a smaller gain, no change, or even a loss.
One reason for events to change course is our ability to adapt. For the weight gain, we have choices in how we respond. If the increase was not what we wanted, we might change our behaviour. Supersize portions and desserts go by the wayside for a while. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When We Share Stories

Our culture includes so many forms of story-sharing. There are documentaries, movies, books, TED talks, and so on. We share stories of difficulties, actions, triumphs and disasters, both truth and fiction.
Do you share stories of your life? Do you value the stories that others share with you? Ultimately, are there both positive and negative aspects to sharing those stories?
I’ll share this story about Anne (not her real name) as an example for you. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Can We Choose Our Response?

Travelling can be difficult at the best of times. As these times aren’t exactly the best of times, opportunities for difficulties are even higher now. Here’s a travel story; it’s about choices.
For months, a friend we’ll call Emma has been hoping to attend a special family occasion. To do so, she’ll need to fly.
We all know by now that forms, testing and procedures are required. Emma filled out the forms and made all the arrangements that she understood to be necessary.
As Emma stood in line at the ticket counter, everyone in the line-up became well aware that there was some kind of difficulty with the paperwork for the group in front of her. Continue reading

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Reality Check: I’d Rather Choose…

One of the tips from a popular money-management book entitled “The Smart Cookies” is something the authors refer to as the “Rather Factor.” It’s easy to forget a budget when we are faced with an appealing impulse purchase. After we’ve spent the money, then we wish we hadn’t done it. Sometimes, we need a way to remind ourselves of our priorities.
The Smart Cookies tip is called the “Rather Card.” Make a little card to keep with your credit or debit card so you’ll see it when it matters. The power of the card is in what you’ve written on it. One format is, “I’d rather have enough money to..… than spend my money on…..”
For example, “I’d rather have enough money to buy groceries than spend my money on fast food.” When you’re at the burger shop, that little card is like a speed bump that slows you down to ask, “Wait! Is this really what I want to do?” It’s a reminder that we have choice.
But it’s not only money matters where we can get distracted from our priorities. Continue reading

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Reality Check: To-Dos and Purpose

How’s your to-do list? Does it motivate you by giving you purpose and direction? Or is it more like a collection of chores—a hamster wheel that demands lots of effort to keep going round and round but doesn’t seem to get you anywhere?
As much as I’d like to say “We have choice” in our tasks, realistically, our choices depend on our circumstances. Your reality may be that you don’t have much choice. Continue reading

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Reality Check: You and Me Against the Problem

Just when everything seemed to be going well, Amy got a wakeup call. It was a “heart incident,” and it demanded that she turn her attention toward aspects of her life that she had neglected.
You probably know the drill. Amy could no longer ignore her health and assume that life would carry on as normal. Nope. She would have to get regular exercise. She’d have to cut down on the delicious meals that she loves. She was even told to find some way to reduce her stress.
Amy understands that if she wants to live a long, healthy life, she doesn’t have a choice. These changes are for her own good. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Wrong Number

The voice mail that I’d received was not intended for me. The caller had simply dialled the wrong number.
But the message struck a chord: The voice of a frightened older woman, saying that Revenue Canada is “after” her and she doesn’t know what to do. She believed that her taxes were done but she’s been told that they aren’t and now she is in trouble. The message was a plea for help.
We have choices. Among my choices was the option to delete the message and forget about it. I could even justify that, as it was obvious that she didn’t know me and was trying to reach someone else.
But I was pretty sure that someone was attempting to run a scam on her. And my perspective is that it’s disgraceful to use manipulative behaviours to prey on the vulnerable. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When you tell yourself a story

“Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.” If you’re a Canadian folk song aficionado of a certain age, you may be humming that Stan Rogers song right now. The Mary Ellen Carter isn’t just a catchy tune; it tells a story: the loss of a fishing boat; the betrayal of the owners who left her to “a sorry grave;” and the determination of the crew to lift her up and restore her to former glory.
Disaster. Betrayal. Loyalty. Determination. Triumph.
Those elements make for an inspirational story, don’t they? Whether truth or fiction, stories can motivate us by sending the message that good can emerge from bad. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Lessons from an Ice Cube

How’s your motivation? Are you full of get-up and go, with plans and actions to get to your goals? Or are you listless or discouraged, where “What’s the use” comes to mind?
Which state would you prefer? And if one is more effective than the other, do you have any control over which one you’re in? Continue reading

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