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A Choice Theory Way to Live the Life You Want, Close to the People You Love

Updated on May 6, 2013

William Glasser, MD, Father of Choice Theory

Are you living with your best attempt at happiness?

How to Live the Life You Want, Close to the People You Love

First in a Series

How many times have you heard people complain and cry out regarding the terrible depression they are experiencing? Have you paid attention to the talk at the grocery store or the checkout line at the mall? People are unhappy. People are miserable. We are inundated with information that leads us to believe that the sky is falling. Little Red Hen was a prophet.

What do you say when the clerk asks you “How are you today?” Is your response truthful? “It sucks?” Is it the usual blow off line, “OK I guess”? Life does not have to be this way. If you are still reading this, you’ll be thinking, “Yep, here comes the usual inspirational story”. Wrong. What follows is a challenge that will change the way you look at the world. When people ask you “What’s happening?” you will truthfully tell them, “I’m dreaming dreams and I’m seeing miracles”.

Years ago, Dr. William Glasser developed a system thinking called Choice Theory. This was invented after Glasser’s work with Dr. Harrington and his mentoring with William Powers. The work of Powers had been influential regarding the idea of personal responsibility. Essentially, we control what we do and how we think about the information that is presented to us greatly influences how we live our lives. Glasser took Power’s concepts and enhanced them further until the counseling method of Reality Therapy was formulated. From there, the theoretical model was refined to the construct of Choice Theory. In essence, Reality Therapy is the counseling method. Choice Theory is the metacognitive thesis that explains why we do what we do.

How does Choice Theory help provide meaning for our experiences of the world? Understand that there are axioms which help explain what we are perceiving when we are seeing the world. Answering the following questions may help direction in discovering the axioms. Would you agree that we all breathe in order to stay alive? That we have bodily functions taking place whether or not we are cognizant of them? Is it agreeable that people have emotional experiences such as sexual feelings, sad feelings, and happy feelings? Is it undeniable that people have a pleasure and pain aspect to their lives? On some level do most people want gratifying relationships? Recognition? Freedom to come and go as one pleases?

Answering honestly leads to the understanding that “yes” is the accurate response to these inquiries. Where does Choice Theory arrive? All the behavior we perform is really nothing more than our best attempt to get what we want. Think about it and the logic will become clear. Why eat? So as not to starve. Why have sex? Because it feels good. Why anger? Because it expresses an opinion, it provides power. Why exercise? Because it leads to enhanced life experiences.

If that’s the case, why are people so dreadfully unhappy? The honest answer is that unhappiness feels good! When one expresses unhappiness what happens? People say “Maybe you should go see a therapist.” Maybe you should try Prozac.” “I’m so sorry that you’re upset. Can I help you?” sound familiar? Everyone does that. Unhappiness is a great way to get noticed!

If the unhappy person perceives ignoring from their relationship partner, what happens? A new behavior. Drugs, divorce, break up, in dramatic cases, suicide. In any event, new acting results in a different attempt to get needs met.

It sounds nonsensical, until one really thinks about it, especially if there is agreement that people have a desire for satisfying relationships and some control of their lives. Who controls the therapy session? Who is the center of attention around conversations at work? Why does the alcoholic, foodaholic, sugar addict feed their addiction? Is anyone forcing the drink, sugar or carbs down the subject’s throat?

The extreme question may be raised. “What happens when someone threatens death without compliance?” The honest answer is “The power to live or die, in that situation, lies in the hands of the hostage.”

That’s crazy! Maybe. Let’s return to the original questions. Does a little wine feel good? Does too much wine make you sick? Does a little coffee give you energy? Does too much coffee deprive you of sleep? Does a great meal with someone whose relationship is mutually satisfying provide pleasant pictures in your mind? Do you get acid stomach when you think of lunch, with the boss, after that boss has informed you about a mistake you’ve made? It works the same way when a person is enjoying or not enjoying their lives as much as they would like.

So why would anyone choose unhappiness? Great question. Ask the relationship partner who is actively sadding or depressing. If you dare.

This has been the first in a series of articles about how to live the life you want. To get further information follow the links provided and read the coming articles. You CAN live the life you want, if you want it.

Dream dreams and you’ll see miracles.

Copyright 2012 abundantoldsoul

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