Posts tagged “gratitude

Joy for Thanks

There’s something very healthy about being thankful.

Fortunately, being thankful isn’t something that hits us once in a while; instead it is a state of mind that we choose and that we nurture. The effects of thankfulness are profound, as our minds are happier and our bodies have more energy.


Thankfulness as a state of mind is a powerful example of Choice Theory in action. Total Behavior – one of the key elements of Choice Theory – describes how our behavior is made up of four parts – 1) the thinking part, 2) the acting part, 3) the feeling part, and 4) the body or physiology part. It further describes how two of these parts – our thinking and our acting – are under our direct control, while the other two parts – our feelings and our physiology- are under our indirect control. In other words, when it comes to our thoughts, we decide the patterns and topics on which we will dwell. This does not mean that we won’t have thoughts of sadness, resentment, fear, or anger. It just means that instead of allowing these negative thought patterns to settle in and take up residence in our heads, that we will choose to think differently, to maybe identify reasons for which to be thankful, and to focus on the people and things that are need-satisfying in our lives.

I tried what you talked about in class, the idea that we can choose to be grateful, instead of marinating in the sad and angry stuff. It was mostly dark when I first woke up this morning. I laid in bed and kind of got my bearings, thinking about the day ahead, thinking about my life, in general. I started thinking the usual thoughts, the my-day-is-going-to-suck stuff, which then led to my relationship with my wife sucks, my relationship with my kids sucks, my job is driving me crazy, my spiritual life is dead-end, etc. You get the point. The thing is, maybe because of our discussion in class, I actually became aware of my thinking and took a kind of inventory of it. I actually thought a little prayer to myself that went like, “Jesus, I am thinking crappy thoughts right now, thoughts that I think are a distortion of my life. I ask for your help in recognizing the good in my life.” I then chose to reject the crap and think about the blessings – my relationship with my wife is better than I give it credit for; my kids are amazing human beings that I treasure; my job can be hard, but I have a job; the day did look challenging, but I realized that solutions would come and I would survive. My outlook shifted, my spirit, perilously close to becoming sour, became more optimistic instead. I guess I just wanted you to know that what we talked about in class works. At least it worked for me.   Gabe


It is amazing that we have this kind of thought power! As much as anything else this power demonstrates the truth about Choice Theory, a truth that is also pointed out in Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy. The book Education (1903), a classic, states that –

It is within the power of everyone to choose the topics that shall occupy the thoughts and shape the character.     p. 127

And in his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul describes how –

I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

“Learning to be content” is such a great phrase! It seems to capture an element of the Choice Theory journey. To me, it reveals the process of learning to make particular choices, like the kind of choices Gabe made in the dim light of dawn as he laid in bed at the start of the day.

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I recently read something pretty powerful in its own right, an insight from the November 24 entry of the Jesus Calling book. The author, Sarah Young, imagining Jesus talking to us, writes –

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances).

Whether we choose to be thankful as an act of faith or not, such a choice will 100% of the time improve our lives. There are few things in life with 100% guarantees, but this is one of them.

On this day of Thanksgiving 2015 may we choose to think about the people and things in our lives for which we can be grateful.

Happy Thankfulness Day!!


A recent article from Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives highlighted 9 Things Grateful People Believe. Those nine things are –

1 – Everyone has something to teach or offer me.

2 – There’s something valuable in every challenge.

3 – Even if I don’t have what I want, I’m fortunate to have what I need.

4 – The “little things” are the big things.

5 – I don’t have to have it all or do it all to be happy.

6 – Everyone’s blessings are different, and that’s okay.

7 – Things can – and will – change.

8 – It could always be worse.

9 – Life itself is a gift.


The Glasser biography – Champion of Choice – can be a great holiday gift! Get copies through Amazon and through the Glasser bookstore. Get signed copies from me at

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser's ideas and his career.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.

Learning from Jim Carrey or the NYC Murder Rate

Hmm .  .  . what to write about. While reading a weekly journal called appropriately, The Week, I ran across two items that caught my attention. I’ll briefly share both of them and you can let me know which direction to head.


1st Item – A Quote from Jim Carrey

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.   Jim Carrey

Really true, isn’t it? We often do look at the rich and famous and compare our lives to our perceptions of their lives. Each time we see a magazine cover with their gorgeous faces and perfect (photoshopped) bodies and see pictures of them on vacation in exotic places that normal people never go to, we are reminded of how far from their lives we really are. In the process, it’s easy to forget about the often screwed-up lives of the people in those pictures and their desperation for normalcy. And in the process we lose sight of the things for which we can be thankful. We forget to nurture a spirit of gratitude.

Jealousy and covetousness erode us from the inside out. The thinking we embrace and coddle affects our actions, our feelings, and even our physiology. Stinkin thinkin leads to all kinds of problems. Take a cue from Jim Carrey and quickly review your blessings. If the list is short you may need to intentionally seek the reasons for which to be thankful, but any effort put into improving your thinking will make a huge difference in your relationships and your happiness.

Item #2 – Murder Rates in NYC Reveal an Interesting Pattern


A total of 334 people were murdered in New York City last year, only 29 of them by strangers. That’s down from more than 2,245 murders in 1990, and the lowest number of murders in the city on record.

The low number of murders is good, but what I really noticed had to do with how only 29 of them were committed by strangers. When I saw that I immediately thought of Glasser’s belief that all long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems. It is telling that over 90% of the murders in NYC were committed by people who knew their victims. Taking the life of a friend or loved one is an extreme act that in a strange way conveys the importance of relationships. We value relationships and get worked up when a relationship doesn’t go the way we want it to go. Murdering another person is never the answer, yet 305 people in NYC last year didn’t know about other options and went ahead and acted out in violence.

This is where choice theory can help. The principles of choice theory gently, but firmly pull us out from the pit of victimhood and place us back in possession of ourselves. We come to understand the control we have on our thinking and our acting and the ways in which we create our own reality. We begin to value our relationships more and to recognize the role we play in whether or not our relationships are successful. Ultimately, without hurting or taking advantage of others, we become responsible for our own happiness.

So, what to write about — Jim Carrey and gratitude or on what can be learned from the NYC murder rate? Hmm .  .  .


Tom Lee, Jean Buller, and Jim Roy at the Google Education Conference. Each of them are professors in the teacher education program at Pacific Union College.

Tom Lee, Jean Buller, and Jim Roy at the Google Education Conference. Each of them are professors in the teacher education program at Pacific Union College.

I attended a Google Apps for Educators Conference on Jan. 8 and 9 at New Tech High in Napa, CA. Wow! If you ever have a chance to attend a Google educator conference I highly encourage you to do so. (45 such conferences will be put on this coming year) The things you learn and ideas you hear are educationally transformative.

For example, the Research tool in Google Docs places the world (websites, articles, pictures, and video clips) at students’ fingertips. And by students we aren’t just talking about college and secondary students. Elementary students can quickly learn to study a topic more deeply and then demonstrate their understanding in exciting ways. Their presentations become much more RELEVANT to them and their classmates. As you probably recall, relevance is one of the most important qualities in a choice theory classroom.


Our next Choice Theory Study Group is January 25 at 2:00 pm.

Let me know if you have agenda items or topics you would like to cover.

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving


A little book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, has become a part of my morning devotion time. A recent passage in the book encouraged readers to bring to Jesus the sacrifice of their thanksgiving. I did a bit of a double-take. Sacrifice of thanksgiving? How do those words go together? Sure enough, though, the phrase is from the Bible and can be found in Psalms 116:17. “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,” writes David (probably sings David), “And will call upon the name of the Lord.”

The passage in Jesus Calling went on to describe how, when we focus on what we don’t have or on situations that displease us, our thinking becomes darkened. We nurture a blaming, complaining, and critical spirit as a way of defending and rationalizing our resentment, hurt, and anger. We deserve to be hurt or offended, we convince ourselves, and go about showing others how hurt we are. Choice theory explains that we choose our misery, and this passage seemed to strongly support that view. In a moody condition it is easy to miss the blessings in which we wallow and to take for granted the good things in life that surround us. It is also easy to obsess on fixing the problem, which is almost always involves the behavior of another person in our lives, usually someone close to us like a spouse or colleague.

As I was reading this, still wondering about the phrase ‘sacrifice of thanksgiving,’ it hit me. When we approach God with thanksgiving, when we maintain a spirit of gratitude, we become willing to let go of what we don’t have. As we remain thankful for what we do have we give up the anger and hurt and frustration over perceived offenses and unfairness. We literally offer to God the sacrifice of our thanksgiving. It isn’t much of a sacrifice when you really think about it. We give up our slights and our bruised egos and our misery and God, in His graciousness, counts it as a sacrifice. He seems to understand how hard it is for us to give up our resentments and worries.

We really do have the choice to be thankful.  White reminds us that “It is within the power of everyone to choose the topics that shall occupy the thoughts and shape the character.” (ED127) We can nurture hurts and resentments, which actually feels good in its own way, or we can nurture gratitude and healing, which feels way better and which strengthens us in the process. Let’s choose gratitude and begin to sacrifice our complaints on the altar of thanksgiving.

See also Romans 8:31; Psalms 118:24; Psalms 23:1

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