Posts tagged “quality world

Being the Best Me

choice.png

I really like a post on the Mental Health & Happiness website, which you can check out for yourself at http://mentalhealthandhappiness.com  Readers were asked to think about how they wanted the world around them to be different – maybe a loved one behaving differently or a circumstance changing. Then readers were asked to think about a world in which everything was indeed as they wanted it – all the changes they preferred had come to be. Sounds good. We’d all sign up for that.

have-an-expectant-attitude-600x300

After being asked to reflect on how they would think and feel in this perfect world, readers were then challenged to act as if they actually lived in this world. How would you behave in a world that was just how you wanted it? Do you have a sense of what it would look like to not be burdened with anxiety? How would you enter the house after work if you were happy? Can you imagine how you would be with your friends if you didn’t worry about what they thought of you? How would you act with your spouse if the two of you were best friends and really trusted one another? You get the idea.

So (you probably know where this is going), readers were then challenged to live as if they were actually living in their “perfect” world, challenged to behave as if these pictures were reality. If I have a picture of what it would look like for me to walk in the front door of my house in a happy state of mind, what prevents me from going ahead and doing it?

il_340x270.186178566

This collection of thoughts really got my attention for some reason, and I am still thinking about the implications of accepting this view of things. It is empowering to think that I can choose my behavior and that I can literally choose how I show up. In other ways, though, it feels disempowering when I think about not being able to use angering and depressing and sadnessing and headaching as a way to convey my difficult circumstances to others. Could it be that I can enter my house happily, even when I’m in the midst of a difficult circumstance? Could it be that I could talk to my spouse about how I felt about the difficult circumstance without needing to anger or withdraw?

happiness

This is such a great Quality World activity. The theory behind the Quality World describes how we place need-satisfying pictures in our heads because this picture in some way helps us to feel better or to feel in control. Once a picture has been placed in our Quality World we go about behaving in a way that will help that picture become a reality. Why not choose to behave in a way that mirrors the world in which you want to live? Pretty cool!

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This post first appeared on Feb. 19, 2015. It is being re-posted because the questions it asks are still true. What if we showed up as if we were living in our perfect world? And what prevents us from doing that? For a lot of us, a lot of the time, it’s pride.

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“Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.”
William Shakespeare, Othello

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
Leonardo da Vinci

 

There Was This Teacher

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The current cover of Educational Leadership, the journal for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, headlines just two words – Relationships First. I love it that thousands of teachers across the U.S. and beyond are being reminded of this essential learning element. There is no getting around it, no shortcuts to it, and no technology that replaces it. When it comes to learning, relationships matter.

Care is in the eyes of the receiver; care doesn’t exist unless those being cared for truly experience it.   Elizabeth Bondy

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Glasser emphasized the importance of 3 Rs when it comes to kids learning in schools – Relationships, Relevance, and Relf-Evaluation. (Ok, it was really two Rs and an S, but it isn’t as catchy as 3 Rs.) From the outset of his career and his work at the Ventura School for Girls, basically a prison school, he recognized the absolute importance of positive connection. This connection is especially needed with any of the students we work with who have struggled with school, who have been traumatized in their past, or who are English Language Learners. One of the keys to Reality Therapy’s success, Glasser’s approach to counseling, was his emphasis on what he called involvement between patient and therapist. By involvement he meant a warm, caring connection. In 1965, when he introduced Reality Therapy to the world, this therapeutic emphasis on connection was fairly unique. The point here, though, is that whether in the classroom or the therapist’s office a positive relationship is vital.

The most urgent questions students ask as they begin a new school year are Am I safe? and Do I belong?   Rick Wormeli

I began attending workshops in cooperative learning from David and Roger Johnson almost 30 years ago, yet I still remember some of their key points like it was yesterday. They explained that there are three important relationships in every classroom – 1) the relationship between the students and the material, 2) the relationship between the students and the teacher, and 3) the relationship between the students themselves. Not to devalue the importance of the other two, especially the relationship between students and teacher, but the Johnson’s felt the most important relationship that exists in any classroom is the relationship between the students. This stuck with me and during my years as teacher, principal, and superintendent, I came to agree with them. Students enter a classroom unsure about how they will fit in and unsure about how they will be treated by others. Until they experience a classroom environment where they feel safe, learning takes a backseat. Threats and sanctions regarding lower grades or trips to the vice-principals office only contributes to their performance being worse.

If you find yourself frustrated with a student, try to find something that you genuinely like and respect about that student and repeat it to yourself.   Lisa Medoff

Rick Wormeli, who contributed the lead article, What to Do in Week 1?, in the recent Educational Leadership, shared something that Rabbi Harold Kushner said during a 1998 interview –

Often I will read about someone from the most unpromising circumstances – inner city ghetto, drug family, single-parent home, abandoned by father, abandoned by both parents sometimes – and the child will have grown up to be a star athlete, a successful politician, or a doctor. The reporter will ask, “How did you get to be who you are?” And the answer will always begin with the same four words: “There was this teacher.”

It’s true. Whether it’s about our relationship with students as teachers or their relationship as students with each other, relationships matter. And rather than relationships being touchy-feely fluff, they directly impact learning.

I realized very early in my career that to successfully and thoughtfully teach my students, I needed to imagine life through their eyes.   Cherish Skinker

In Choice Theory Speak, as teachers we want students to place us in their Quality World and we want them to place our subject matter and our classroom in their Quality World, as well. We can’t inject ourselves into their Quality World. We can only behave in a way that invites students to place us there. We can only create classrooms that students come to value. Coercion has no place within this dynamic.

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As I write this it is early in the morning in Cicero, Indiana, where I am giving a two-day in-service on choice theory to the staff at Indiana Academy. They had already read Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Educators, so I am now joining them in their journey toward a non-coercive life and a non-coercive classroom. Yesterday we focused on Glasser’s Big Four – the Basic Needs, the Quality World, Creativity, and Total Behavior. Today we’ll focus on application of the ideas here at the academy.

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The Indiana Academy campus is well kept with sprawling lawns leading to classic brick buildings. It feels peaceful here.

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The school is located north of Indianapolis and is the academic home for 129 students.

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A quiet hallway at the end of the day. So busy between classes. So empty now.

Being the Best Me

choice.png

I really like the February 15 post on the Mental Health & Happiness website. (http://mentalhealthandhappiness.com) Readers were asked to think about how they wanted the world around them to be different – maybe a loved one behaving differently or a circumstance changing. Then readers were asked to think about a world in which everything was indeed as they wanted it – all the changes they preferred had come to be. Sounds good. We’d all sign up for that.

have-an-expectant-attitude-600x300

After being asked to reflect on how they would think and feel in this perfect world, readers were then challenged to act as if they actually lived in this world. How would you behave in a world that was just how you wanted it? Do you have a sense of what it would look like to not be burdened with anxiety? How would you enter the house after work if you were happy? Can you imagine how you would be with your friends if you didn’t worry about what they thought of you? How would you act with your spouse if the two of you were best friends and really trusted one another? You get the idea.

So (you probably know where this is going), readers were then challenged to live as if they were actually living in their “perfect” world, challenged to behave as if these pictures were reality. If I have a picture of what it would look like for me to walk in the front door of my house in a happy state of mind, what prevents me from going ahead and doing it?

il_340x270.186178566

This collection of thoughts really got my attention for some reason, and I am still thinking about the implications of accepting this view of things. It is empowering to think that I can choose my behavior and that I can literally choose how I show up. In other ways, though, it feels disempowering when I think about not being able to use angering and depressing and sadnessing and headaching as a way to convey my difficult circumstances to others. Could it be that I can enter my house happily, even when I’m in the midst of a difficult circumstance? Could it be that I could talk to my spouse about how I felt about the difficult circumstance without needing to anger or withdraw?

happiness

This is such a great Quality World activity. The theory behind the Quality World describes how we place need-satisfying pictures in our heads because this picture in some way helps us to feel better or to feel in control. Once a picture has been placed in our Quality World we go about behaving in a way that will help that picture become a reality. Why not choose to behave in a way that mirrors the world in which you want to live? Pretty cool!

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Welcome to those of you from the recent ASDASA conference who are now following The Better Plan blog. The Leading the Quality School breakout sessions went well, I think, and I am excited about the number of Adventist principals and superintendents who are drawn to a choice theory approach to education.

Principals and superintendents – I encourage you to share The Better Plan blog with your teachers and staff. Just have them enter thebetterplan.org in the URL address bar. It’s that simple. Once at The Better Plan, take a moment to enter your email address on the left hand side of the page and then click on the FOLLOW link. You will get an email asking you to confirm this request.

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Signed copies of Soul Shapers or Champion of Choice can be ordered from me. You can also quickly order them through Amazon using the links below. There is also a digital version link for those of you with iPads and Kindles.

 Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Educators

Available new on Amazon from $14.75; used from $5.19.

Available new on Amazon from $14.75; used from $5.19.

William Glasser: Champion of Choice

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.44 on Amazon.

Click here for electronic version of Champion of Choice.

Trading Life for Looks

I saw some data from recent research that, unfortunately, brought to mind The Better Plan blog from January 22, 2013, which was titled Give Me Victory or Give Me Death. You can click on the title to take a  look at the post, but basically it described the results of a survey given to elite athletes where half of them admitted that they would trade their lives for success in their particular sport. The article commented on how powerful the basic needs are in our lives, as well as how central the quality world is in choosing the behaviors we see as need-satisfying. Toward the end of the post I wrote that –

SI cover

Until athletes, and the rest of us for that matter, understand the concept of the basic needs and the scrap book (quality world) process of meeting those needs, our rules and punishments will have very marginal success at best, and actually be counterproductive at worst. We need to understand that people are always acting in what they think is their best interest at the moment. Whether a recreational cyclist who drinks water before heading out on a ride to get in better shape or a professional cyclist who dopes before heading out on the next leg of the competition, both are doing what they think is best. Based on the pictures they pre-determined in their mental scrap books, their behavior is rational. Maybe not right or ethical, but rational.

woman-surprized-mad-at-scale-ngo-okafor-300x225

In similar ominous fashion, recent research out of the UK has found that 30 percent of women would trade at least one year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight and shape. Once again we have evidence of people, in this case women, who are willing to trade their lives for a picture in their quality world. The data revealed that in order to achieve their ideal body weight and shape –

  • 16% would trade 1 year of their life
  • 10% would trade 2-5 years of their life
  • 2% would trade 6-10 years of their life
  • 1% would trade 21 years or more of their life
21e86992c0e8e42f3fe7a5c26b6b2890

Further data revealed that –

  • 46% of the women surveyed have been ridiculed or bullied because of their appearance.
  • 39% of the women surveyed reported that if money wasn’t a concern they would have cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance. Of the 39% who said they would have cosmetic surgery, 76% desired multiple surgical procedures. 5% of the women surveyed have already had cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance.
  • 79% of the women surveyed reported that they would like to lose weight, despite the fact that the majority of the women sampled (78.37%) were actually within the underweight or ‘normal’ weight ranges. Only 3% said that they would like to gain weight.
  • 93% of the women surveyed reported that they had had negative thoughts about their appearance during the past week. 31% had negative thoughts several times a day.
self-acceptance-300x300

There is so much to say here, yet you probably could respond to this data as well as me. I think of the quality world as the My Needs Met world (MNM). It is hard to overstate the importance of the pictures we create and store in our personal My Needs Met storage system. So important are these pictures, so valuable are they to us, that in some cases we are willing to trade our lives for them.

There are influences around us that invite us and pressure us to create these pictures. Applause and adulation invites us to trade our lives for a trophy; media pressure invites us, especially women, to trade self-acceptance for self-loathing and constant efforts to be different, even if it means going under the knife. Such pressure and invitations are external to us, though. They can beckon, but they cannot enter our quality world without our consent. We put pictures into our quality world and we can take them out. There are quality world pictures that are worth dying for. Let’s really make sure they are the right pictures.

* An article on the study out of the UK can be found here.

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Click on Champion of Choice to quickly order a copy.

Now priced at $18.51 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.51 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

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

Now priced at $17.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $17.49 on Amazon.

You can also get copies through Amazon at –

http://www.amazon.com/William-Glasser-Champion-Jim-Roy/dp/193444247X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416975086&sr=1-1&keywords=champion+of+choice

Remember that electronic versions of the biography are available at –

http://www.zeigtucker.com/product/william-glasser-champion-of-choice-ebook/

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

Teaching the Quality World

Today’s blog post is authored by Banning Lary, who I met at the Toronto conference last month. I want to create a page on The Better Plan website at which people can find Choice Theory instructional ideas. This article does just that. The article has previously appeared in The International Journal of Choice Theory and is used with the permission of the author. Thank you, Banning, for sharing this.

Explaining Glasser’s ‘Quality World’
by Banning Lary

During the process of learning about Choice Theory / Reality Therapy (CT/RT) to a level worthy of certification, I found the “How the Brain Works” chart to be intimidating in its complexity. My first instinct was to change the chart and make it more palatable. But, as I began to understand CT/RT the chart began to make more and more sense and I eventually fell in step with the many who have come before me whose minds were positively altered by this sublime and workable model. As certification requires selecting a portion of the chart and preparing a presentation, I wanted to choose an area I wanted to know thoroughly, to the extent that I could explain it to others. I searched Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory (1998) until I came upon this quote:

“Learning what is in a person’s ‘Quality World’ and trying to support it, will bring us closer to that person than anything else we can do.” (p. 51).

If our work is to help others self-evaluate, learning about their Quality Worlds (QW) seemed not only critically important, but possibly a good place to initiate a dialogue to find out about a person. I thus selected the Quality World portion of the chart as my certification project and developed a PowerPoint presentation, slides of which are incorporated into this article.

As I was setting up my computer to begin my presentation, I passed a white index card to everyone in the class and asked them to read the card and write a one-sentence answer. Every card contained the same set of instructions:

What is a table?

Picture a table you know in your mind. Then
write a one sentence description on this card.

The purpose for this will become clear in a moment.

I started my presentation macroscopically and worked inward. I described the Real World as being made up of phenomena, appearances in time and space that can be apprehended by the senses. The Perceived World was described as being a subset of the Real World, comprised of only what we as individuals see, smell, touch, taste or hear. This was further illustrated using the parable of the blind men and the elephant.

Five blind men approached an elephant for the first time and tried to describe it to others. “It’s flat and floppy,” said the blind mind who came in contact with the elephant’s ear. “No, it’s round and heavy,” said the man with his arms round a leg. “It’s like a tapered tube,” said the man holding the snout. “It’s thin and ropelike,” said the man with its tail. “It’s broad and wide,” the fifth blind man said, his arms outstretched spanning the elephant’s torso.

elephant

I then asked my colleagues to read what they had written on their cards. “A table is wooden, rectangular and usually found in a dining room.” “A table is round with a thick glass top.” “A table is made of columns and rows of numbers, like an accountant would use.” “A green felt covered piece of slate housed in a heavy frame with bumpers used for billiards.” And so on.

tables

From one simple word, all these different perceptions. Now what would happen if you asked a group of different people to explain their perception of words like power, love, freedom, physical health or fun: the five basic needs of Choice Theory, their fulfillment ideally represented in a person’s Quality World. Therefore, each person’s Quality World is a subset of their Perceived World which is a subset of the Real World.

realworlddiagram

According to Glasser, a Quality World is made of pictures (people, places, things, activities, ideas and belief systems) we perceive as being need-fulfilling whether anyone else may regard them as need-fulfilling or not. These pictures relate to our past experiences, future aims and ambitions and relate to our idealized selves. Our personal Quality World pictures direct our efforts to fulfill our vision of our basic needs and thereby direct our behavior. Behavior, as Glasser sees it, is comprised of thinking, doing, feeling and physiology (Total Behavior), but that is another area of the chart outside of this discussion.

qualityworldstages

Pictures in our Quality Worlds are changing and changeable as we go through life. Pictures in an infant’s Quality World may just be his or her parents as they fulfil the infant’s five basic needs. These pictures can vary in levels of intensity or in the possibility of attainment, such as personal goals of becoming a doctor, having a family, building a vacation home or even winning an Oscar. The composite Quality World of a young adult will be more complex and contain more pictures. A Teenager, for example, may have a composite Quality World that looks like this:

adolescentqw

Or like this:

adolescentqw2

Notice how the size and span of the images can vary, how one picture can fill one or more of our basic needs. Notice also the change in the size of the pictures in the second example from the first example. Assuming these are Quality World composites from the same individual, notice how the importance of athletic achievement diminished as the desire or want to smoke dope and hang out with pals increased. This acknowledges Glasser’s observation that Quality Worlds are not always comprised of pictures we (others) might ethically, legally or morally judge as being right. And that…

“… a lot of people have not found anyone they can trust and enjoy being with. They may have been rejected or abused… to feel good they begin to replace people pictures with nonpeople pleasure pictures – pictures of violence, drugs and unloving sex – in the quality worlds. As they do so they separate themselves further from people and happiness, compounding the urgency of their problem.” (Glasser, Choice Theory, 1998, p. 49).

In other words, people who do not have their needs fulfilled in ways society regards as being healthy and positive, may turn to negative and destructive activities to get their needs met. This is where aberration begins. And, if we can discover these life diminishing behaviors by being allowed into the other person’s Quality World, we can ask the kind of questions necessary to help the person make more life-sustaining choices. These choices will lead to further refinement and replacement of images in the person’s Quality World.

basicneeds

As an exercise, I then put up a blank screen and pass around a placard listing a variety of images I have in a folder that are easily accessible on my computer. At the top of the card it reads:

QUALITY WORLD = NEED FULFILLING IMAGES

SELECT A QUALITY WORLD IMAGE BELOW AND DESCRIBE HOW IT FULFILLS ONE OR MORE OF THE FIVE BASIC NEEDS: 1) LOVE/BELONGING, 2) POWER/SELF-WORTH, 3) FREEDOM TO MOVE & CHOOSE, 4) FUN, PLAYING, LEARNING, 5) PHYSICAL SURVIVAL.

The card is passed around and I ask participants to select an image that fulfills a need and tell how it does so. The images I have used are: Aerobics Class, Backpacking, Basketball, Basketball Professional, Boating, Burger And Fries, Carribean Cruise, Community Service, Cooking Class, Coworkers Smiling, Daughter And Father, Dental Hygenist, Dentist, Dinner Party, Diploma, Family, Father Or Grandfather, Fiesta Dance, Flying Small Plane, Gambling, Gardening, Grandparents , Gymnastics Girls, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Knitting, Making A Movie, Man Fishing, Man Golfing, Man Job Promotion, Man Losing Weight, Man Skiing , Mother, Public Speaking, Quinceanera, Rap Music, Running, Scuba Diving, Sky Diving, Smoking Marijuana, Surgeon, Teaching, Weight Lifting, Travel To Asia, Travel To Europe, Vacation Home, Volunteering In Hospital, Wedding On Beach, Winning The Oscar, Woman And Cat, Woman And Dog, Women Archery,, Woman Bowling, Woman Helping The Elderly, Woman Job Promotion, Woman Losing Weight, Woman Skiing, Woman Snorkeling, Woman Tennis, Woman Water Skiing, Woman With Baby.

Someone might select the image of the diploma and say it fulfills their basic need for power (self-worth). Another might pick the photo of the mother, grandparents or coworkers smiling and refer to fulfilling the need for love and belonging. For fun, I have had them choose scuba diving, golfing, gymnastics, gardening or having a dinner party, which could also fulfill love and belonging, and so forth. There are, of course, no right or wrong answers, but as they select these images I place them on the page. This provides a dynamic example of how a Quality World is created that is easy to understand.

ourqualityworld

After we have constructed a sample Quality World and everyone who wants to participates, I conclude with a good thematic quote from Glasser:

“But, ultimately, whether people agree with us or not, we define reality in the way that works best for us.” (Glasser, Choice Theory, 1998, p. 47).

Therein lies the beauty of the Quality World, the visual composite of our ideal need fulfilling images which uniquely frames the mentality of every individual. By understanding and embracing another’s Quality World, we afford ourselves the opportunity to help people self-evaluate and change their lives.

If this exercise appeals to you, feel free to use it or develop a variation for use in your own work with clients or students or to help educate others about the Quality World and its importance to Choice Theory / Reality Therapy.

References:

Glasser, W. (1998). Choice Theory. New York: Harper Collins.

William Glasser Institute: How the Brain Works Chart

______________________________________________

Banning K. Lary
344 Madison Place
Lexington, KY 40508
859.309.9015
banningkl@gmail.com

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13 Amazon reviews; can we make it 15?

13 Amazon reviews; can we make it 15?

For U.S. customers, get a signed copy of Champion of Choice for $20 + $6 (shipping). Send your check, along with any special instructions (e.g.- if the book is a gift), as well as your shipping address, and I will get the biography out to you right away.
Please include your email address, just in case I have questions about your order. My address is P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508

Get a signed copy of Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Teachers for $17.

1308277

Some Amazon reviews for Soul Shapers wouldn’t hurt either.

 

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5 Reasons Choice Theory Works 100% of the Time

The view when I walked out of the Education building.

The view when I walked out of the Education building.

As I walked out of the Education building at Pacific Union College yesterday afternoon, a large plume of smoke caught my eye. It seemed to be very close and in the direction of my house. It was the kind of hot, windy afternoon that fires love, and intensified by months, and even years, of drought here in California. Colleagues came out onto the front porch of our entryway and joined me in expressing concern and a bit of worrying.

I didn’t think I would get very far, but I decided to head toward the smoke and see what I could see. Sirens had been wailing as fire vehicles sped by the college, so I figured the appropriate blockades were in place. I headed toward Pope Valley and made it all the way to the top of Pope Valley Road, which surprised me. The cloud, although more blocked by trees, still loomed large.

From the top of Pope Valley Road.

From the top of Pope Valley Road.

I decided to head down the hill and see how close I could get to Pope Valley. Remarkably, I thought then, I was able to wind my way to the bottom of the hill and park my truck so that I could walk to the best vantage point. The smoke cloud, still large, was in plain view further down valley than I had thought it would be. Somehow it looked smaller as I got closer.

From the old Pope Valley gas station at the bottom of the hill.

From the old Pope Valley gas station at the bottom of the hill.

Standing across the street from the Pope Valley Fire Department, I could clearly see the orange colored clouds billowing up from the ground; I could see the spotter planes begin to circle over the fire, getting the exact bearings on the fire’s location and I assume helping to organize the efforts to contain it; I could see the bigger planes come in, the ones that dropped retardant on the flames; and I could see fire trucks begin to rapidly appear from Cal Fire and nearby communities. Instead of speeding by to the fire, though, the trucks always pulled into the wide area in front of the Pope Valley Fire Station, sometimes several of them there at the same time. After a few minutes, sometimes longer, the trucks and their crew would turn onto Butts Canyon Road and head north toward the fire.

Waiting to be called in. There would soon be a lot more trucks here.

Waiting to be called in. There would soon be a lot more trucks here.

This was interesting to me and I wondered aloud to a friend standing near me why the trucks seemed to be wasting time when they could be getting to the fire sooner. “Oh,” he explained, “the trucks always wait until they are called in with specific instructions on exactly where to go. It would be a mess if all the trucks just raced to where they thought the fire was.” It made perfect sense after he explained it. I thought again about the coordinated symphony of man and machines – planes, helicopters, ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, personnel trucks, and a host of other support vehicles – and all of the experience that went into knowing how to attack a large fire in a remote area. The fire fighters, whatever their role might be, know what works. There are proven fire-fighting principles that they apply. Their lives depend on these principles.

My friend, Tom Amato, is a strong believer in the principles of choice theory. As director of the Napa Valley Youth Advocacy Center, Tom works to improve, and sometimes even save, the lives of children and teens. Whether a kid is struggling in school, struggling at home, having run-ins with the law, self-medicating with drugs, or developing anti-social behaviors, Tom is relentless in his desire to connect with him/her, to listen, to support, and even to provide opportunities to become engaged in meaningful service to the community. It’s amazing, really!

One thing Tom has said to me more than once is that when the principles of choice theory are correctly and consistently applied, they will work 100% of the time. It is true. There may not be an instant change in those with whom we work, but the principles lead to change. We can count on them as surely as the fire fighters count on the principles of fire fighting.

We know, for instance, that –

+ a positive relationship means everything. We must get and stay connected to the kids we are working with.

+ a need-satisfying environment is important. Rather than on changing the kid, we can focus on providing a need-satisfying structure in our classroom or teen center or wherever it is that we work with himher.

+ the caring habits really work! At-risk kids, when interviewed about what helped them turn things around for the better, consistently mention that they just needed an adult to listen to them, to accept them, and to seek to understand them. As human beings we all respond to the unconditional regard of the caring habits.

+ to get into another person’s quality world, we can only be invited and placed there by the person himself. If we work with kids it is important that we are in their quality world, but we can’t force our way in. We can only behave in a way that the kid will put us there.

+ kids need structure, but not structure designed to accentuate a power struggle. Kids appreciate coercionless-structure.

Of course, it isn’t just kids that respond these principles. We all do!

Here’s to the fire fighters, who make our world a safer place!

And here’s to choice theory, whose principles make our world a better place, too! (With special thanks to Tom Amato.)

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Have you read William Glasser: Champion of Choice yet? If not, I will soon be offering signed copies right here from The Better Plan website. Stay tuned.

I am planning on bringing some copies to the 2nd International Glasser Conference next week in Toronto. Hope to see you there!

 

It’s OK, as long as I am not harming others. Right?

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Any pleasure that does no harm to other people is to be valued.   Bertrand Russell

This statement caused me to immediately pause and consider the extent to which it is true. Since choice theory is in my quality world, the statement was filtered through my concepts of choice theory. How about you? Is Russell’s view accurate?

Unlike most psychiatrists of his day, Glasser did see importance in moral behavior, although his definition of moral is significant. To him, moral behavior occurred when a person met his own needs without keeping someone else from meeting theirs. He frequently referred to the Golden Rule in the Bible as a good maxim by which to live.

If we stopped here, Glasser would probably support Russell’s statement about personal pleasure. However, Glasser didn’t stop with just his definition of moral. He went on to describe the difference between pleasure and happiness, at least as he came to define them.

He came to see happiness as a key human need and goal. He viewed the terms happiness, choice theory, and mental health, as synonyms. He felt that it could be said that “mental health is choice theory is happiness.” Happiness comes from being close and knowing how to stay close to the important people in our lives; it comes from engaging in activities that add strength to our lives; and recognizing our basic needs and our power to make choices, more and more we come closer to being in self-control. Happiness has much to do with our relationships with other people.

Glasser came to see pleasure as something people pursued to temporarily change a feeling. His concept of total behavior has feeling as one of the back tires on the total behavior car, a part of our behavior that we cannot directly control.

Total Behavior Car

The concept of total behavior reminds us that our mental health and happiness depends on our ability to choose to live in the realm of the front tires – that being our thinking and our acting. Our feelings can be very strong, though, even what “feels” like overwhelming. Many people attempt to address the feeling, rather than staying on the front tires. A desire to feel good, or at least to not feel bad, can lead to many behaviors. Some seemingly innocuous ways we attempt to feel good or numb our pain include eating, shopping, traveling, watching movies, and playing video games; less innocuous ways of feeling good include alcohol, various drugs, sex, including pornography, and gambling. The ways in which we attempt to feel good are in fact the ways in which we self-medicate. Self-medicating behaviors do not address the root of our unhappiness; they just attempt to change a feeling, even for just a little while. This self-medicating pursuit of pleasure leads to two things – 1) you need to up the dose of whatever your medication of choice is, and 2) addiction. Rather than coming into a place of greater personal strength, we arrive at feeling powerless in the presence of our “pleasure.” And rather than bringing us closer to others, especially the important people in our lives, our pursuit of pleasure erodes our personal connections.

This is such a dark picture, yet it captures a process in which we might find ourselves.

This is such a dark picture, yet it captures a process in which we might find ourselves.

This additional definition of pleasure vs. happiness adds an important element to how we might process Russell’s statement. Now, when we read . . .

Any pleasure that does no harm to other people is to be valued.

. . . we realize that pleasure that does no harm to others may still be harming me. And it brings up a really important question – Is it possible to be in the process of harming myself and not, ultimately, to be harming my relationship with the important people in my life?

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The Glasser International Conference is coming up next week in Toronto, Canada, and I am looking forward to seeing all of you who  are a part of that. For me, it will be a bit of a homecoming, as I began my teaching career in 1978 in Oshawa, Ontario, just 1/2 hour from Toronto.

Honey, this is getting out of control .  .  .

The second Soul Shapers workshop ended yesterday and already class members are sharing articles, stories, songs, and video clips that they are seeing in a new way — like this Verizon commercial. As you watch it think about the ways it taps into choice theory concepts.

How many choice theory ideas did you see or hear?

+ It really captured how the preferences of adults can shape a kid. And so much of it is about little stuff that adds up over time.

+ It captured the subtle ways that adults seek to control children.

+ It made a point about how little time adults spend listening to, and the supporting, what their children are really interested in.

What did I miss? What choice theory points did you see the clip bring out?

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Ok, since we’re looking at clips, and since we are looking at creative commercial clips, here’s one that class members used to teach a piece of The Chart during Soul Shapers 1. A girl, feeling like she is being left behind by her friends, fakes her period and then is surprised by her mother’s response. Pretty hilarious. But also instructive when it comes to the “steering wheel-like” nature of our quality world.

It’s amazing what comes to the fore during choice theory trainings. Gotta love it.

 

The Drive Home

 

Soul Shapers 1 class, summer of 2014; a talented group of teachers who taught me a lot.

Soul Shapers 1 class, summer of 2014; a talented group of teachers who taught me a lot.

I want to give a big thank you to the Soul Shapers 1 group from this past week! I said a few things, facilitated a few activities, and led a few discussions, but it was their openness, creativity, and insight that really made the week a fun and meaningful experience. For instance, the following chart presentation examples were all created by them.

Chart presentations: A teacher-created small booklet could by used by students to identify their basic needs.

Chart presentations: A teacher-created small booklet could by used by students to identify their basic needs.

 

Chart presentations: Puppets can be used to help students process their behavioral center choices.

Chart presentations: Puppets can be used to help students process their behavioral center choices.

 

Chart presentations: A creative role play format leads to a better understanding of total behavior.

Chart presentations: A creative role play format leads to a better understanding of total behavior.

Most of the classmembers headed out for home after class ended on Thursday afternoon, although not all of them. A few of them are sticking around for the weekend so that they can continue in Soul Shapers 2, which begins on Monday. One of the those heading home didn’t have far to go, as she works right here at PUC. Others from the class, though, had longer trips – five from locations around northern California, three from central California, two from southern California, and three from Salt Lake City.

The trip home after experiencing a choice theory workshop can be an intense time of reflection. So many new concepts that have us thinking about our motivations and evaluating our behaviors. I haven’t checked in yet with this class about their trip home yet, but former participants have shared things like –

“Well, my head was kind of spinning, that’s for sure. The choice theory ideas, plus the Scripture and Ellen White stuff, it was pretty clear, and it made sense to me. But hearing this stuff for the first time, I was like, now what?   RG

“Well, to be honest, I was a little bit discouraged as I drove home. I had great memories from the time in class, the new friendships and all, but as I really thought about how I had been showing up with others, especially my own children, I just felt a little bad. I really want to get rid of the deadly habits and use more of the caring habits.”   HR

“Hmm .  .  . the trip home? I think I was pretty obsessed with the whole concept of how we control for our perceptions, you know, the idea that we place a picture in our quality world and then live in a way to make that picture happen, including manipulation as needed. That really nailed me for some reason.”   PA

“I was pretty excited, actually! I was thinking of ways that I could present the choice theory ideas to my students. I agree with you that doing the ideas ‘with’ them will be way better than doing the ideas ‘to’ them. If all I did was teach them about their Basic Needs and the Quality World, that would be such a gift for them. I plan on doing more than that, but just those two concepts would make a huge difference!”   AS

“I found myself thinking about the classroom management things I am going to change next school year.”   DS

“It hit me how much I was in the habit of blaming others for stuff, which kind of absolved me from any role in helping to make things better. Like I would blame the kids’ homes for not raising them right, and I would blame the kids for their lack of performance in class. Of course, with this way of thinking it never occurred to me that how I set up the classroom and the learning may have had something to do with their poor performance.”  JJ

Choice theory does indeed invite us to reflect on our own thinking and our own behavior. Instead of our musings being aimless, though, or negative, choice theory helps us reflect in a positive way that leads to effective change. I look forward to checking in with the latest classmembers about their reflections as they traveled home.

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If you have read William Glasser: Champion of Choice, I encourage you to write a review of the book on Amazon. Together we can get the word out there that Glasser’s story and the ideas he championed are worth paying attention to. It’s not hard to contribute a Review of the book on Amazon and it doesn’t have to be long. Think about it.

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If you haven’t read Champion of Choice yet, then put it on your reading list for this summer. Besides a good story, you will learn a lot about choice theory and how to live your life.

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