Reality Check: A Year in Perspective

In “Choice Theory,” Dr. Glasser tells the story of a mother who is travelling with her infant. The baby screams through the whole three-hour flight. Mom tries everything she can think of; nothing helps.
You can probably understand why the mother announced to everyone on the plane near the end of the trip, “This has been a flight from hell.”
As we near the end of 2020, I have a feeling that more than a few folks are thinking, “This has been a year from hell!” Continue reading

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Reality Check: What’s in a Bribe?

When you think of bribery (if you ever do) what comes to mind? Scenes of brown paper bags stuffed with cash, surreptitiously dropped into the hands of corrupt, powerful people?
In his book, “Take Charge of Your Life,” Dr. Glasser refers to seven deadly habits that destroy relationships. The last habit in his list is, “Bribing or rewarding to control.”
What might that mean? Is it, “If you do something I want, then you will get a reward”? Could it also include, “If you don’t do something I want; then you will be punished”?
Looking around, it seems that we could interpret a lot of what happens in everyday life as “bribery.” Many of us try to get people to do what we want them to do. It’s not necessarily because we’re evil, but because we have a belief that we know what’s best.
And when we are convinced that we know what’s best, it’s not too easy to change Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Tension Between Safety and Freedom

People do the strangest things, don’t they? Sometimes you shake your head in disbelief.
Yet for any of us, I suspect that there are times when an observer would think our own actions quite irrational. An observer can only see what we do and hear what we say; they don’t know the thoughts in our heads or the emotions of our hearts. That is, an observer doesn’t have the whole story.
When we see someone acting in a way that seems illogical to us, it can help if we have a reasonable answer to the question, “Why would he/she do that?” Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Actions of Gratitude

Gratitude helps.
When we shift our outlook to one of gratitude, that shift may also help to move us toward a more satisfying, and indeed, a more grateful life. Adopting an “attitude of gratitude” also helps to make life more pleasant for those around us.
Even in these troubled pandemic times, there is still so much to be grateful for.
But what if you find it difficult to feel grateful, even though you know you “should”? There’s an aspect of Dr. Glasser’s choice theory that just might help. Continue reading

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Reality Check: A Strength of Less-Social Folks

Do you ever deliberately seek out information that you think you’ll disagree with? If so, why?
One reason could be curiosity: to see what “the other side” is thinking. Another reason could be to try to reduce the effect of confirmation bias on our viewpoints.
Confirmation bias involves looking only for information that confirms what we already believe. For example, let’s say that I believe that having a pet improves health and well-being. I’ll want to do some research on that, so I talk to people.
If I only talk to people who share my belief, I’ll become even more convinced that it’s correct. They confirm what I already “know;” obviously anyone who doesn’t share this belief is wrong. How can there be skeptics when everyone we know agrees with us? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Perfection Trap

How do you feel about this statement: “If I can’t do something perfectly, I may as well not do it at all”?
While different people have different attitudes toward perfection, there are some situations where perfect accomplishment is what we want. For example, if I can choose between a perfectionist and her “win-some, lose-some” colleague, then I would like the perfectionist for my brain surgeon, please.
On the other hand, if I’m paying by the hour to have my firewood stacked, I could be quite happy with an imperfect pile, as long as it doesn’t fall over and saves me some money. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Ready or Not?

Many of us have daily rituals. Some folks check their horoscope, check facebook, or listen to the birthday greetings on the radio. I have my coffee; check my email, and read today’s quote from my book of Stephen Covey’s daily quotes.
Covey is famous for writing First Things First and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. What I’ve taken away from Covey’s philosophy is that to build a satisfying life, we need to think about what’s important to us and direct our attention toward those priorities.
When we have that clarity, we tend to spend more of our time on activities that will help us achieve what really matters. And, it reduces the amount of time we fritter away doing things that don’t lead us much of anywhere.
Because we’re now living in a pandemic-stricken world where some are feeling anxious and uncertain, this recent quote from Covey stood out for me:
“Much of our frustration and anxiety comes from the feeling of being unprepared. Many activities become urgent as a result of lack of proper preparation.”
What does it take to feel prepared? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Every Little Choice

Different stages of our lives bring the opportunity to make different life-changing decisions. Who to marry, where to live, what career to choose, where to work, what house to buy; those decisions, among others, can have significant consequences.

Big choices can be difficult, and I think that many people put considerable thought into their big choices.

We also make little choices. In fact, we make a whole lot more little choices than big ones. Every day, perhaps even every waking hour, we’re making choices. And even though any small choice is not as consequential as a big one, each choice still has an effect on our lives.

For example, it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Will I choose to lounge outside in my lawn chair for a few hours or sit at my computer and work? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Five Second Rule

Do you know the five second rule? Maybe it’s the ten second rule. Either way, it’s the rule/myth that when a piece of food hits the floor, it’s still edible if it’s picked up right away.
You know, of course, that this isn’t offered as health, hygiene, food-handling or any other kind of advice. And if you have a dog in the household, any concern about picking up food from the floor is irrelevant anyway.
The rule becomes more interesting for non-food situations, as it’s suggesting that when a problem is fixed quickly, it’s ok to pretend that it never happened.
Let’s think about how we could apply this rule to conversations. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Above and Beyond

You can tell when you’re dealing with someone who goes above and beyond.
It’s the store clerk who not only asks if you’ve found what you’re looking for, but who makes sure that it meets your needs. It’s the person who follows up on a request when they say they will and who has the information they said they would have. It’s the service provider who steps up to help you out even when it’s not really their job, but because they see that you have a problem and they can help. Continue reading

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