Posts tagged “Champion of Choice

And I Quote . . .


A fellow blogger* posted “75 of the Best, Most Inspiring, and Kickass Quotes on (Positive Mental) Attitude!” and it caught my attention. I am passing on to you several of the quotes that especially relate to the elements in choice theory. For instance –

It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.   Dale Carnegie

When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can either let it define you, destroy you, or let it strengthen you.   Anonymous

A man sees the world what he carries in his heart.   Goethe

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.   Rumi

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.   Francesca Reigler

It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous – even death is terrible only if we fear it.   Epictetus

There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.   W. Clement Stone
Part of the reason I include this quote is that it was the Clement Stone Foundation that donated $300,000 to a young William Glasser in 1967, which allowed Glasser to set up the Institute for Reality Therapy.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.   Maya Angelou

I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.   Anne Frank

A positive mental attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.   Herm Albright

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.   William James

If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior.   William Glasser


May each of us continue to shift toward personal responsibility; may we recognize the power we have to adjust and focus our thinking; and may we do this in a spirit of love.

Have Choose a great day!


Read about the Clement Stone Foundation reaching out to Glasser and, even as his wife and others urged him not to take the money, his decision to accept it in the Glasser biography – Champion of Choice. Click here to order the book quickly.

Now priced at $18.42 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.42 on Amazon.

* Click here for the blog I get these quotes from – 75 of the Best, Most Inspiring, Kickass Quotes.

Unpublished Glasser Article on Pain

The problem of undiagnosed pain received a lot of Glasser’s attention during his career. Today’s blog is a short article he wrote on the subject of pain that, as far as I know, was never published. He wrote it shortly after the Warning book was published, and refers to it several times, yet in between he offers important advice for those suffering with chronic pain. And it’s always good to hear his voice once again as you read.

Glasser writing at home. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Glasser writing at home. (Photo by Jim Roy)

The Choice Theory Approach to Pain that Has No Known Medical Cause
by William Glasser, M.D.

I explain in the book, Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health, how readers can learn to improve their own mental health and rid themselves of the pain, both physical and emotional, which is one of the symptoms of unhappiness. I point out that the most important component of mental health is learning to get along well with all the important people in your life but, for the sufferers of chronic pain, it may be even more important for you to make an effort to accept yourself and not to ask more from yourself than deep down you want to give. As much as you try, you may not be able to be the perfect version of yourself that you want to be.


If you are mentally healthy, you tend not only to accept that the people around you are not perfect but, even more important, you aren’t either. Mostly you are happy and if you have a bad time for a while, you accept that there are many things that come and go in your life that you can’t control. There are always going to be days when it rains on your parade.

If you can learn to live your life this way, you will rarely suffer from the pain, fatigue and weakness that plague millions of people who believe they are happy and well-adjusted but tend to want more from themselves and others than it is possible to get. For these competent people and the physicians who treat them and get to know them, the cause of their pain is a medical mystery. Many more women suffer from pain without a cause because in our culture women tend to ask much more of themselves than men. And are more likely to go unappreciated for what they do. Yet, they continue to strive to be the perfect wife, mother, house keeper, gourmet cook, corporate executive, wage earner, and budget wizard.


Almost all of these sufferers claim if they could get relief from their pain they would be happy. They strongly reject the idea that there is a connection between what they are choosing to believe and do and their physical pain. I don’t blame these competent women for rejecting this connection when everything they are trying to do tells them otherwise.

Because they are competent, I suggest that they continue to do all they can to help themselves along with anything their doctor suggests. All I recommend is that they read my Warning book and from what they read learn to put a way of behaving that I call choice theory to work in their lives. Choice theory is easy to learn, sensible and costs no money to practice. Also, there is no risk or downside to using choice theory. Accepting yourself and getting along better with the people in your life cannot possibly do you or them any harm.

As I explain in the book, all I ask is that you be willing to make a sustained effort to take a good look at how much you are demanding from yourself and others. Think of all the days that you have said to yourself, “If only there were more hours in the day.” Think of all the times you have thought why do I have to do so much and “they” so little, whoever they may be.

“I can only control myself.”  William Glasser

When you become willing to take a less demanding look at your life, you will discover the major wisdom of choice theory, which is I can only control myself. I can choose to continue to live my life as I have lived it or I can choose to change. Your pain is not because you lack adequacy, it is because you have burdened yourself with expectations of too much adequacy.

But as easy as this is for me to say, a super competent sufferer is rarely willing to change. You continue to focus on the pain instead of the things that need to be changed. This focus may stand directly in the way of your becoming pain free.

“Your pain is not because you lack adequacy, it is because you have burdened yourself with expectations of too much adequacy.”  William Glasser

The first thing that choice theory teaches is that you are not imagining what you are feeling. Your pain is not only real, it is far worse than any pain you might suffer from an injury or a diagnosable disease. That pain heals, yours lasts or gets worse. Genetically we are proud creatures. We hate to admit that anything may be wrong with how we are choosing to live our lives when all our choices seem so important. Many people would rather suffer the pain than admit that they may be part of the problem.

Read the book and find out about your quality world and how only you can change it plus a whole host of suggestions on how to lead a satisfying, choice theory life. You can do this by yourself but if you are lucky enough to be part of a Choice Theory Focus Group you will get a lot of support. If you can become as competent at using choice theory in your life as you are dedicated to everything else, you are well on your way.

Bill, at home, ready to visit about whatever is on your mind.  (Photo by Jim Roy)

Bill, at home, ready to visit about whatever is on your mind. (Photo by Jim Roy)


I have started reading the book I talked about in an earlier blog, Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon’s Road Map Out of Chronic Pain, and I am excited about the profound similarities between Dr. Glasser’s and Dr. Hanscom’s views. The link to the previous blog is below. If you are dealing with chronic pain I encourage you to check out Back in Control.

A Spine Surgeon’s Road Map Out of Chronic Pain




Get a digital version of the Glasser biography at Zeig, Tucker & Thiesen Publishing. Just click here.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.




I finished listening to the 12th and final episode of Serial last Sunday. Up until this past weekend, I was patiently getting through the podcasts, often waiting for a long drive in the car to listen to the next episode. But I started to see articles on the Internet about the podcast, many of them with potential spoilers, so I decided to get on with it and listen to them all for myself.

Adnan Syed as a high school senior.

Adnan Syed as a high school senior.

Serial is a story told in 12 segments, 12 audio podcasts about the murder of high school student, Hae Min Lee, in suburban Baltimore in 1999. Adnan Syed, a high school student himself at the time and a former boyfriend of Hae Min, was ultimately convicted of the murder and has been in prison ever since.


Serial, in a remarkably simple format, reviews the details of the story, including interviews of friends, teachers, family, jury members, and Adnan himself, transcripts from police interviews and court sessions, and evidence presented during the trial. Although the evidence was seemingly shaky the prosecutor was able to convince the jury to convict Adnan. Serial listeners, over the course of the 12 podcasts, are given the evidence to decide for themselves.

Sarah Koenig, narrator and executive producer of the Serial podcast.

Sarah Koenig, narrator and executive producer of the Serial podcast.

One of the areas that comes into question during the podcast is whether or not Adnan’s defense attorney, Cristina Guttierrez, did an adequate job of defending him and presenting his side of the story effectively. The narrator appropriately wonders why certain individuals essential to Adnan’s alibi were not contacted, and why cell phone tower data was not scrutinized more carefully. These are just two examples of Guttierrez’s mistakes.

Defense mistakes like these examples were bad for Adnan, but even worse than this strategic ineptness was the courtroom demeanor of Ms. Guttierrez. The Serial narrator, Sarah Koenig, characterized Gutierrez’s demeanor as aggressive, but I don’t think aggressive fully captures how she came across. During Episode 10 – The Best Defense Is a Good Defense – listeners hear actual recordings from the trial of Gutierrez grilling a key prosecution witness and then later making a procedural point with the judge. Her approach is a mixture of anger, disgust, and incredulity, all dripping with sarcasm, condescension, and arrogance. Her diatribes, long and passionate, were intended to bring the courtroom to her view of things, but they had the opposite effect on me.

Cristina Guttierrez, defense attorney for Adnan Syed. She was disbarred a year after the trial.

Cristina Guttierrez, defense attorney for Adnan Syed. She was disbarred a year after the trial.

Her approach was very off-putting and I wonder if her behavior had the same effect on the jury. The way she came across was so condescending that I could see myself (had I been on the jury) wanting the exact opposite of whatever it was that she wanted. Her passionate speeches emphasized her emotions, rather than substance. She made it look like the facts that favored her client were so weak that she needed to blow people away with her anger.


We may not be an attorney, but those of us who are a parent or a teacher know that our demeanor matters, too. Within the realm of choice theory this is why relationships and the Caring Habits are so important. When we use a Deadly Habit (e.g. – criticizing, blaming, threatening, etc.) to try and manipulate the behavior of others our demeanor alone can push people in the opposite direction from what we want. And the relationship is hurt in the process.

There can be a lot of influence and power in a calm, reasonable, and firm demeanor. We can “plant a flag” and uphold a rule without getting angry and sarcastic. In fact, the minute we get angry it takes away from that power. I think choice theory provides us with tools to minimize the number of our battles and the nature of our battles. There is nothing in choice theory that prevents us from taking a stand on an issue or that prevents us from confronting a student behavior that needs to change. To a significant degree, the challenge lies in staying calm and reasonable and connected.

As long as you are connected, you have influence.

Yes, connected. In regard to parents and children, or teachers and students, or even supervisors and employees, many times I heard Glasser say, “As long as you are connected, you have influence.” I think Cristina Gutierrez lost the connection, through her bombastic sarcasm and anger, with the jury, which led to her losing any shred of influence. Ultimately I think it led to her losing the case and sending a man to prison for life.

If you haven’t listened to Serial, you should. It’s that good. And it’s free.


 Read any good books lately? May I suggest a very interesting biography.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Click here to quickly order the biography on Amazon.

Click here to access a digital version of the biography.

Email me at for a signed copy of the biography.

The Wild Truth


A couple of days after posting a blog (posted Dec. 20, 2014) based on the book, Into the Wild (1996) by Jon Krakauer, I received a response from Tim Shey, a blogger in his own right, who informed me that a new book on the life of Chris McCandless, The Wild Truth (2014) had just recently been published.

         Carine McCandless

Carine McCandless

Chris McCandless was the young man featured in Into the Wild, a compelling book that documented his quest for truth and personal freedom, a journey that ultimately ended with his death in the Alaskan wilderness. The new book, The Wild Truth, is written by Chris’s sister, Carine McCandless, and is important because she describes the dysfunctional behavior of her parents that led to Chris disappearing and pursuing his quest. Carine holds nothing back as she reveals the selfish, manipulative, and violent behavior that regularly took place in her home. I am amazed at her courage in sharing the details of her own life, which included her admitting her own ineffective behaviors.

Carine, Billie, Walt, and Chris McCandless

Carine, Billie, Walt, and Chris McCandless

Throughout the book, though, there is a tone of love and a consistent desire for forgiveness and reconciliation. I don’t know how much to say here, as I don’t want to spoil the book for those of you who are as fascinated with this family’s story as I am. Suffice it to say that The Wild Truth fills in holes that Into the Wild didn’t address.

Carine actually asked Krakauer not to share details regarding her parents’ behavior and the dynamics in their home, which Krakauer honored, but it left us guessing as to what really went on between these parents and their two children. After her brother’s death, and as Krakauer was writing the manuscript for Into the Wild, Carine still hoped her parents would “get it,” that they would understand the effects of their behavior on Chris, and would see their role in his disappearance. The Wild Truth shares what Carine asked Krakauer not to share, and as painful as the story is, it depicts important lessons for all of us.

Jon Krakauer and Carine McCandless

Jon Krakauer and Carine McCandless

There was so much control and dishonesty constantly present in this home and Chris McCandless didn’t want to be around it anymore. Carine McCandless wanted us to understand that Chris’s journey wasn’t just about independence, freedom, and truth. He admired each of those qualities, but to understand Chris you have to recognize his desire to separate himself from toxic external control. If you think I am going overboard by using the word toxic, read the book.

Chris ultimately became free of the toxic control when he died in the bus in Alaska. He faced tough challenges during his self-imposed exile, especially during the last 100 days of his life in an isolated wilderness, but I actually think that Carine’s journey has been even more challenging. Chris left this planet much too early. In his effort to get away from the toxicity, he paid with his life. The toxicity can no longer reach him, though. Carine, on the other hand, lived on and has had to deal with more than her fair share of challenges – her parents’ dysfunctional behavior, the loss of her brother, and her own failed relationships, to name a few. Hitting the road on your own (as Chris did) can be tough; hanging in there at home and trying to be there for others, even as your life seems to be getting harder and harder, is tougher.

If you have read Into the Wild, you need to now read The Wild Truth. If you haven’t read either book, plan on reading both.


Now priced at $18.01 on Amazon. (Lowest its been for a long time.)

Now priced at $18.01 on Amazon. (Lowest its been for a long time.)

Click here to get your copy of William Glasser: Champion of Choice.

For a signed copy get in touch with me at




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So Long, 2014! Hello, 2015!


It’s interesting the effect that January 1 can have on so many of us. Apparently, there is something about starting over that appeals deeply to us. The beginning of a new year can feel like an opportunity for a new beginning in our lives. Like a lot of you I certainly have some “new beginnings” in mind for myself.

A case could be made for January 1 being celebrated as Choice Theory Day. Maybe more than any other day of the year, January 1 represents the “kick off day” for putting into practice the quality world pictures that we believe captures the best version of ourselves. January 1 represents our ability to choose to embrace a new, better us. We take an inventory of ourselves, especially in October, November, and December, and we come up short. We recognize we aren’t making good choices and thank goodness January 1 is just around the corner so we change things for the better. I say let’s do it! Let’s pursue the best versions of ourselves!


thebetterplan PP redo

The Better Plan blog has completed its second year of sharing choice theory posts and the following data may be of interest to you.

The blog was viewed 18,000 times during 2014. (Compared to 8,000 views in 2013)

The busiest day of the year was November 19 with 161 views. The most popular post that day was entitled Stamina. (The Stamina post was about a classroom I visited during a NapaLearns board meeting. NapaLearns shared the post with their peeps and it led to more views.)

There were 90 new posts during the year, contributing to the 174 total posts in the archives.

And followers contributed 532 comments responding to the posts. (Compared to 371 in 2013)

The day I posted on most frequently was Saturday (hmm . . .) with 18 posts.

The five posts that got the most views in 2014 were –

#5 – Linda, Gone Too Soon on April 8

Linda Harshman and Jim Roy, both attending the 2005 Glasser International Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Linda Harshman and Jim Roy, both attending the 2005 Glasser International Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

#4 – GREAT DREAM – Acronym for Happiness on March 9


#3 – 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids “How was school today?” – on September 1


#2 – Stamina on November 19

The remarkable reading data chart.

The remarkable reading data chart.

And at #1 – 7 Cardinal Rules for Life on January 21


Some posts (like the 7 Cardinal Rules) continue to be discovered and read long after the date they first are posted. I am not sure if search engines lock onto an effective tag associated with the post or if people are looking through the Year in a Glance archives and locking onto a catchy title.

Top referring sites include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I thought I was hooked into Google and general search engines, too, but maybe I’m not. I’ve got to look at that.

People from 138 different countries read posts from The Better Plan blog during 2014, although most readers were from the United States, Australia, and Canada.

The most commented on post was Essential Elements in a Classroom Management Class? which appeared on September 6. This was excellent because I gave an assignment to my class that connected them with the insights that so many of you shared. Very cool!

As of December 31, 2014, the blog has 300 followers. (Compared to 189 followers at the end of 2013)


December 31 is also significant in that the publisher tallies the number of Glasser biographies, both paper and electronic, that have been sold. I don’t know what that number is as I write this, but I assume I will soon learn how well or how poorly the biography has done. To those of you who have purchased the book and have shared supportive comments with me, and to those who have uploaded reviews of the biography on Amazon — Thank You! Hopefully, the word will continue to get out there regarding the existence of the biography, with the result being even more people learning about William Glasser and his life-changing ideas.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

The Holidays Require All of Our Choice Theory Superpowers

The S actually stands for Self-Control.

The S actually stands for Self-Control.

Even though the Holidays are supposed to be . . . well . . . the Holidays, many of us struggle to get through them with our mental health intact. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are supposed to be joyous, need-fulfilling occasions, right? So what’s with the pain and dysfunction?

The Holidays can be joyous and warm and need-fulfilling, however they can also accentuate things that are emotionally or physically painful for us. For instance –

+ the loss of loved ones is more keenly felt;
+ family estrangements show up in stark relief;
+ dysfunctional behavior often comes out during family reunions;
+ we sense our own aloneness more;
+ illnesses and physical disabilities tempt us toward deeper discouragement; and
+ we experience financial stress from pressure to buy presents or travel.

Like a superhero, choice theory can help us stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to our thinking and our emotions. Consider some of the superpower elements of choice theory –

+ We can directly control our thinking.
Amazing, really! Choice theorists learn to recognize when negative or destructive thoughts intrude on their consciousness and choose to reject them and to think about something that is happier and more productive.

It is Christmas eve morning and Jill feels weighed down emotionally. After waking up she lies in bed and just gets sadder and sadder over the passing of her mother nine months earlier. She started having thoughts of staying in bed, and maybe even not going to the party that evening that she had been looking forward to. The thought flitted across her mind that she was starting her own pity party right then for some reason and she decided to nip it in the bud. “I do miss my mother terribly, but staying in bed and feeling bad about it isn’t going to help. I’ve got stuff to do today and I want to go the party tonight.” She swings her legs out from under the covers and puts her feet on the floor, ready to take one step at a time. “Hmm . . . should I get in the shower or start the coffee?”


+ We set the thermostat for our personal lives.
We place very specific pictures in the quality world photo albums in our heads and then we try to make those pictures come to life. One of the premier superpowers of choice theory is recognizing the importance of these pictures and then being able to manage them well. The photo album is very much like a thermostat in that in both cases we intentionally and strategically set the course of our lives.

Geoff really doesn’t want to put up Christmas lights on the house. He usually does it by himself, it’s cold, and it takes a lot of time. As a result he comes up with a lot of reasons not to put up the lights – “I don’t even know where the lights are stored” or “I am really jammed for time this year” or “I don’t want to put lights up when so many people are hurting in the world.” Monica, his wife, really likes it when the house has Christmas lights and she comes up with reasons to make that happen – “the lights are in the garage” and “we’ll be the only house without lights” and “it means so much to the kids.” They remained entrenched in their QW pictures until Geoff pointed out that he felt overwhelmed adding Christmas lights to his To Do List and Monica responded that she understood and offered to help him with the project. They actually had fun together getting it done.


+ Our feelings do not need to control us.
Feelings, be they helpful or not, are a part of our total behavior. They are aligned with our thinking and our actions, both of which are under our direct control. We may not have direct control over our feelings, but we have a great deal of control over our behavior. Our feelings can’t hijack our happiness unless we give them that power.

Carl does not want to go to his family reunion. As far as he is concerned his sisters are jerks who manipulate their parents into all kinds of bad decisions. He gets angry whenever he thinks about it. Choice theory could help Carl learn the difference between the Caring and the Deadly Habits. Instead of his feelings automatically taking him to blaming, complaining, and punishing, he could learn to accept his loved ones, flaws and all, truly listen to them, and try to negotiate with them without disconnecting.

Other choice theory superpowers include –

+ Recognizing that our personal view of reality is just that, our personal view, our interpretation of the facts as we see them.
+ Understanding that, to a very great degree, we create our reality.
+ Breaking the chains of victimhood and taking responsibility for our thinking and our behavior.

The Holidays are a special time of year that tends to intensify our emotions and our thinking. If ever there is a time of year in which choice theory is needed to help us navigate our circumstances, the Holidays are the time.

Here’s to our mental health for 2015!



The Glasser biography is easy (and cheaper, too, at just $10) to get for your iPad or Kindle by going to the following link –

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

Good Bye for Now, Kalispell


Margaret and I have been visiting our son and daughter-in-law in Kalispell, Montana, during the last week. In the process we have been reminded of what cold temperatures are like (although locals would laugh at my referring to high 20s and low 30s as cold). Our time together here has been so good, so relaxed. We headed to Spokane yesterday (the weather looked good to get over Lookout Pass) and then home today.

Jordan, Katy, Maggie, and Jim.

Jordan, Katy, Maggie, and Jim.

Kalispell sits next door to Glacier National Park and a couple of days ago we headed there to take in some of its beauty. The low clouds and snow on the ground kept us from exploring or seeing much, though. We’ll save Glacier for our next trip.

Had it been a clear, sunny day, apparently we would have had views like this.

Something we did see was an interesting place on the way to the park. Surrounding three large wooden crosses was an expansive half-circle of billboards, all proclaiming the Ten Commandments, the U.S. needing to be a God-governed place, or anti-abortion messages. The place was closed, so I am not sure about the overall goal of the place. It would seem somebody there wants to change the thinking and behavior of those who pass by. For me, the display of giant signs was a “2 x 4 up side the head” reminder of our human tendency to attempt to change the behavior of others.

photo 1 photo 4

I respect a person’s right to put up large signs proclaiming what they believe to be religious and moral truth, even as I think the signs do much more harm than good. People aren’t drawn to God through “sledgehammer” signs, civil legislation, or threats of impending punishment. Jesus understood the human mind and heart and from the upper room Sinai proclaimed –

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:34, 35

Thinking that we are supposed to change the beliefs and behaviors of others creates a lot of pressure and tension within us. It is a huge burden to be the conscience and judge of others. Ever desiring our good, Jesus lifts that burden from us and reminds us that the Holy Spirit is an expert at the kind of conviction and convincing that leads to change.

But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:7, 8

The Holy Spirit will do the convicting. We have been freed from that role. If we want to “change” others there is really only one way, and that is to truly love them, without strings, without demands, without agenda. Christianity has somehow become something Jesus never intended. Christianity isn’t about power or even about being “right.” It is about love and unity.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.   John 17:20, 21

God is about relationships. Always has been. Choice theory is about relationships. Always has been. He created us to be in harmony with others, indeed, to love one another. In God’s words there is no stronger example of His way of being.


Get the Glasser biography easily and quickly –

Get signed copies from the author at

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

In Spite of Your Fear or Because of Your Fear


I’m a sucker for cards like these. There is something appealing to me about the ability to go for it, even if it means being uncomfortable and risking. It is impressive to me when people move ahead in spite of their fear.


Fear can be a tricky thing, though. When I was in college at PUC I went out to Lake Berryessa with some friends one afternoon and we ended up doing some cliff jumping. It was high (a couple of us went out to the cliff the next day with a 100’ tape and measured the jump at close to 80’) and I didn’t much like heights. I jumped, however, and lived to tell about it. Thinking about it later I thought about how it might have looked like a brave thing for us to do, but at least in my case I knew different. I jumped, not so much because I overcame the fear, but because I was so afraid of what people would think of me if I didn’t jump. It was kind of sad as I thought about it.

“We don’t want to be imprisoned by our fear, but we don’t want to be goaded into jumping off of cliffs either.”

We don’t want to be imprisoned by our fear, but we don’t want to be goaded into jumping off of cliffs either. Choice theory describes our physiological need for safety and survival, and like the rest of our basic needs it varies in strength with each of us. Some people have a very low safety need, while others have a very high need for safety. The safety and survival need exerts a pressure on us to be met, but we each have to decide how to interpret that pressure and how to live our lives in response to those urgings.

This is one area where it is common for our quality world pictures to be in conflict. As I stood on top of the cliff, pondering whether or not I would jump, I was in huge conflict. A part of my quality world didn’t even want to go to the edge of the cliff and look over the side, never mind actually jump off of it. Yet another part of my quality world was pointing out to me how it would look if I didn’t jump. The word ‘Wuss’ came to mind.

More often, though, we are not standing on the edge of real cliffs, but instead are atop cliffs of our own imagining. We allow our safety need to hold more control than it deserves and keep us from doing things that deep down inside we really want to do, behaviors and activities that would be good for us and happiness-producing. We worry about what someone will think of us when it really doesn’t matter.

It boils down to who we really are and what we really want to do. If I want to experience the rush of jumping off of a cliff for the freedom and fun of it, then I should do it. However, if I am prompted to jump off of a cliff because I am worried and fearful of what others think if I don’t, then I should take a second look at who I am and what I want. If a person wants to apply for a better job because he/she believes they are ready for the challenge and wants to go for it, then fine. But if the person is applying for a higher position because of a fear thing and a status thing, then some personal reflection is in order. Choice theory can really help with that kind of reflection.


I suspect that people with a moderate to high survival/safety need are the ones that mostly buy the cards with sayings like “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” We hate it when our fear holds us back. Just keep in mind – am I wanting to do this thing in spite of my fear or because of my fear?


A copy of the Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, can make an excellent Christmas gift. It’s easy to get a copy of the book through Amazon at –

For a signed copy of the biography, contact me at

Now priced at $18.13 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.13 on Amazon.

From the Mouths of Kids – Thanksgiving and Choice Theory

If you remember this popular daytime TV show you'd be .  .  . as old as me.

If you remember this popular daytime TV show you’d be . . . as old as me.

When elementary students (who had been taught about choice theory) were asked “What is choice theory about Thanksgiving?” this is what they had to say.

“If the need for survival is about food, well, Thanksgiving is about food.”   Nash, 6th grade

“I get to stay up as long as I want during vacation and staying up late is in my quality world. Well, not as late as I want  .  .  .  but late.”   Molly, 5th grade

“I love my aunts and uncles and I feel like I belong when I am with my cousins.”   Megan, 4th grade

“My freedom need is thrown out the window during Thanksgiving break, since I am trapped in a car forever driving to my grandparents house.”   Dak, 8th grade

“I let Aunt Helen kiss me. I think that’s love.”   Ryan, 3rd grade

“It’s deadly habits day at my house. My mother always invites a lot of people over and she’s all freaked about the food situation, and then my dad is spaced out watching football all day. Not a good situation.”   Becky, 7th grade

“I feel powerful when I help my mother make a lot of pies.”   Kalin, 4th grade

“My dad gets a couple of days off of work so my fun need is met being with him.”   Brett, 5th grade

“Mashed potatoes and turkey are need-satisfying on so many levels.”   Grady, 8th grade

“I think about how much I have when so many other people have so little. It’s not right when people’s survival need isn’t being met.”   Heather, 5th grade

“People bring us bags of food, which is nice. But it’s a little embarrassing, too. It doesn’t feel very powerful when you need people to bring you food.”   Amy, 7th grade

“Black Friday is about chaos. Wait a minute, chaos isn’t a basic need.”   Darcy, 8th grade

“I get a good feeling when I think about Thanksgiving leftovers. What choice theory thing would that be about? Quality world pictures? Yeh, that’s it.”   Brad, 7th grade

“My parents seem to get along better during Thanksgiving. I guess that’s love and belonging, right? Or maybe the caring habits. Whatever it is, I like it.”   Madelyn, 6th grade

“Everything would be good about Thanksgiving if it wasn’t for the yams. I do not feel powerful and I do not feel free because of the yams.”   Ethan, 3rd grade

“Thanksgiving is about love! That’s just it.”   David, 1st grade


The Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, would make an excellent Christmas gift. Get in touch with me for a signed copy at

Now priced at $17.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $17.49 on Amazon.

You can also get copies through Amazon at –

Remember that electronic versions of the biography are available at –


Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.
Ali ibn abi Talib


As a board member of NapaLearns, an amazing non-profit committee that supports Napa County schools, I have the privilege of visiting a different school each month. Yesterday our meeting took place at Donaldson Way Elementary School in American Canyon, California. Part of our meeting involved visiting classrooms and seeing first hand what students were working on. I saw the small poster in the picture below in a first grade classroom there. Something on the poster caught my eye. Do you see it?

Procedural steps for reading time for both the students and the teacher.

Procedural steps for reading time for both the students and the teacher.This is a poster that shares the steps for the Procedure to follow when it is reading time.

This is a poster that shares the steps for the Procedure to follow when it is reading time. Students are reminded to –

Read quietly

Stay in one spot

Read the whole time

Work on stamina

Get started right away

The step that caught my eye was the one that asks students to “work on stamina.” I thought I had a grasp of what the procedural step was wanting, but just in case I asked a first grade student to explain to me what “work on stamina” meant. The student didn’t hesitate and described how it takes practice to read for longer than a few minutes, but that the class was doing better at it. The goal was to sit still and quietly read for like, a while.

I was excited about this approach for several reasons, all of the reasons in some way having to do with choice theory.

Reason #1
Procedures help things run smoothly. When lots of students in a classroom need to do lots of different things at lots of different times, Procedures just help everything work better. Procedures aren’t like rules where students get in trouble for not doing them. The Procedures are reviewed and practiced, and when students forget them they are asked to do the Procedure correctly. In the spirit of choice theory, this is such a humane way to create important routines in the classroom. As teachers we have expectations and we state these expectations to our students, yet there is a way to teach expectations without turning them into a power struggle.

Reason #2
The step that asked students to “work on stamina” acknowledged that 1st grade students don’t automatically know what stamina is, nor do they have great amounts of it when it comes to reading. The teacher anticipated that her students wouldn’t have a lot of reading stamina, but that it’s ok and they would work on it. No need to get frustrated at students or worse, to get disgusted at them for their poor habits. No need to try and control them or force them into quiet reading time. Stamina is something that can be learned. It is so choice theory to recognize the age-appropriate abilities of students, and to support them as they work to grow and improve those abilities.

The remarkable reading data chart.

The remarkable reading data chart.

Reason #3
When I had a chance to talk with the teacher about the “work on stamina” step, she pointed to a poster next to the window that tracked the students’ progress. It’s the picture above. I hadn’t noticed it before, but now I honed in on this simple, yet remarkable data. She explained that they were tracking how long everyone in the class, when it was time for reading, could quietly read in one place. The chart shows that the first day some students could only make it for one minute. The second day, though, all the students made it for at least two minutes. The third day they all read quietly for almost five minutes. By day six, all of them read quietly, in one place, for 22 minutes. Think about it. A full classroom of active, diverse 1st grade suburban kids and all of them reading for 22 minutes. Obviously, the teacher presented the Procedure in such a way that the students themselves bought into it. They wanted to improve; they wanted to read more; they wanted the bar on that chart to go higher. It wasn’t a behavioral issue. It was simply about working on and building stamina.

Student books waiting to be read.

Student books waiting to be read.

It would have been easy, common actually, to try and discipline these young readers into reading quietly. But the results would have been far different than the results in this classroom. Criticizing, blaming, nagging, threatening, and punishing would harm the relationship between the teacher and the students, and the students would most likely grow up to not enjoy reading. I like the Procedure and data chart a lot better.


Send me an example of how choice theory is showing up in your classroom. I would love to see it or hear about what you are doing!


Now priced at $17.82 on Amazon; 22 reviews have been submitted.

Now priced at $17.82 on Amazon; 22 reviews have been submitted.

The Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, can make a great Christmas gift. It’s easy to purchase the book through Amazon at –

For a signed copy of Champion of Choice, contact me at –

The book, plus shipping it anywhere in the U.S., comes to $26.

For international orders, going through Amazon is the cheapest way to go. I am happy, though, to sign a bookplate and send it to you so that it can be placed on the inside cover. Let me know.

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