Tag Archives: Dr. Wm. Glasser

It’s not doing our best. It’s knowing what to do, and then doing our best

By Dr.Ken Larsen

Our friend, Bob Hoglund, publishes the quote in the above title on his emails.  It is from W. Edwards Deming, the management genius who is credited with guiding the successful reincarnation of Japanese industry following WWII.

whatThe first time I saw it I was not impressed.  Seemed a bit simplistic.  Through the last couple of years, however, I have had a chance to digest the wisdom in what Deming said.  I can see many ways that knowing what to do is more helpful than just struggling along in ignorance.

I could start with awareness of why we do what we do.  If we are blind to what is triggering our behavior, we are helpless to change it.  Putting forth energy and effort, “doing our best” is a non-productive approach unless we know what to do to change.  Much of knowing “what to do” is working to gain an awareness and an understanding of ourselves.  Dr. Wm. Glasser, author of Choice Theory, has given us a collection of insights that have been helpful to many of us.  He has shown us that it is what is going on inside of us that we need to pay attention to in our efforts to grow and change.

As we learn about the internal control systems that are operating in our central nervous system and in our ongoing experience of life, we can look at ourselves with understanding and make more effective choices as we seek to “do our best” in dealing with the challenges of life.  In this short blog I cannot begin to do justice to what Dr. Glasser has given us.

I would encourage those of you who have not read Choice Theory to reap the rewards of wisdom and insight that are contained within the book.  For those of you who have read it, there is always fresh insights that come from repeated exposure to the concepts.

I think Bob Hoglund and Deming are giving us a very useful insight that is helpful in our progress to mental health and happiness.




Total behavior and Atrial Fibrillation

by Dr. Ken Larsen

Dr. Wm. Glasser taught us about “total behavior”.  His insight that our actions, our thinking, our emotions and our physiology are all interconnected helps us understand ourselves and one another.  Each of the components of this total behavior have an impact on the other parts.  My actions affect my emotions and my physiology, my thinking affects my actions and emotions.  This helps us see that we are one integrated whole and not a separated collection of parts and pieces.  They all work together as we move more closely to deeper mental health and happiness.

Emotions often get our attention, especially when they cause some discomfort.  Depression and anxiety are epidemic in our culture and have victimized far too many of us for far too long.  Our mental health is overshadowed by these emotional states.  Our tendency is to look outside ourselves for the cause of our depression or anxiety.  Sometimes we may need to look inside ourselves for the cause.  Let me tell you what happened to me that brought this message home.


A couple years back I started to experience a very uncomfortable level of anxiety.  It was what is described as “free floating anxiety” without any apparent cause.  I was not facing divorce or foreclosure, my dog hadn’t died—any of these would foster some real anxiety.  What I was feeling didn’t seem to have a focus, but it was very real.  I was tempted to have one of my physician friends Rx some Xanax, but I decided to look elsewhere before asking for the Rx.

I had heard about “HeartMath” and was reading one of the books published by that organization.  I turned to the section on “Anxiety” and I read that sometimes a physiological condition could cause anxiety.  They specifically mentioned cardiac arrhythmia as a possible cause.

I made an app’t with my primary care physician and described the situation, especially the part about an arrhythmia.  He scooted me into the room where they do EKGs and sure enough, the EKG readout clearly pointed to atrial fibrillation.  This is a condition where the upper chambers of the heart are not working as they should.

Once this diagnosis was made, I was given the appropriate treatment and the anxiety slipped away.

I’m not saying I am totally free of anxiety.  If I got a letter from the IRS, I suspect I would get a little uptight.

In our quest to enjoy more mental health and happiness, it is good to be aware that we are whole beings “fearfully and wonderfully made” with an amazing complexity to the way our parts and systems work together.  It’s good to have this in mind if mental health and happiness become a bit elusive.