Happiness is a choice!

Elvira Kitrar, MS, MFT

Marriage and Family Therapist


Good or bad, everything we do is our best choice at that moment.

                                                                               William Glasser, MD

This quote is not just a motto or a therapist’s attempt to positively influence their client. It represents a very real opportunity for you to change your life for the better. We make routine choices every day: what am I going to wear, what am I going to have for lunch, what book should I read next? Those choices are concrete and tangible. Have you ever considered that you could also choose how you want to feel? It is easier said than done, but only at first. And with practice and dedication, your efforts, time and motivation will be rewarded with feelings of inner peace and happiness. You can choose to be happy with what you have, even when we think that we have very little. We can learn to appreciate every moment of our lives, every sunrise, every raindrop, every fallen leaf and, believe it or not, every “misfortune” fate throws at us. All we need to do is choose the positive attitude or change our negative outlook on life into a more positive one.
     We can choose to be happy despite how little time, money or sex we have! And by choosing happiness, we could attract more positive changes into our lives. We can choose to be happy even when we are ill and bring about a faster and fuller recovery. We are capable of “re-training” our brains to make healthier and happier choices in life.
    William Glasser, MD, psychiatrist, who spent about 50 years on theory and practice in psychology and counseling and developed a Choice Theory, strived to bring to our attention the importance of our personal choices, responsibility and transformation
     Choice Theory posits that behavior is central to our existence and is driven by five genetically driven needs, similar to those of Abraham Maslow:
•          Survival (food, clothing, shelter, breathing, personal safety and others) and four fundamental psychological needs:
•          Belonging/connecting/love
•          Power/significance/competence
•          Freedom/autonomy, and
•          Fun/learning
     Choice Theory maintains the existence of a "Quality World" for each of us, which represents a person's total outlook and understanding of the world, his or her relation to people, possessions, beliefs, etc. Starting from birth and continuing throughout our lives, we place the people who are important to us, things we treasure, and systems of belief, such as religion or cultural values, within the framework of our "Quality World."      

      Glasser also stated that we create a "Comparing Place," in which we compare and contrast our real world experiences against our Quality World perspective. Our behavior is focused to achieve as much congruency between the Quality World and the Comparative Place.  Our behavior ("Total Behavior" in Glasser's terms) is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology. Glasser suggests that we have considerable control or choice over the first two of these, and little ability to directly choose the latter two. As these four components are closely intertwined, the choices we make in our thinking and acting greatly affect our feeling and physiology.
Glasser believed that the source of emotional pain and unhappiness lays in the failing or failed relationships with the important people in our livers: spouses, parents, children, friends & colleagues. The symptoms of unhappiness are widely variable and are often seen as mental illness. Hence the intense focus on the improvement of relationships in psychotherapy using Choice Theory—the "new Reality Therapy".
     Choice Theory posits that “most mental illness is, in fact, an expression of unhappiness and that we are able to learn how to choose alternate behaviors that will result in greater satisfaction.” The counseling process is focused on helping clients to learn to make those choices.