What is essential for you? Think for a moment. What pops up? Perhaps people come to your mind—friends, family, people we rely on for help and companionship, who keep our spirits up and make our lives worth living.
What else comes to mind? Survival basics are probably on your list. We need air, water, food, shelter, and so on. There are other things too. Perhaps you believe that work is an essential in your life. Interaction with young people is essential for some; for others not so much.
Some people need to be near the ocean, others look to the mountains. Some need the bustle of a city; others the solitude of the forest. Many perceive arts, music, books, and intellectual stimulation as essential.
Financial gurus sometimes recommend that we divide expenses into categories: essential versus discretionary. We need some things; others are nice to have but we can live without them. The first step is to define what is and isn’t essential, which may not be so easy to do.
In light of the changes in society that we have seen over the past year, it seems appropriate now to think about essentials. Rules are sometimes based on a foundation that deems some activities essential and others non-essential. If it’s hard to define those categories for finances, then it stands to reason that it’s even more challenging to define them for society as a whole.
If we use Dr. Glasser’s perspective on basic needs as a guide, it follows that what one person considers essential may not be essential for another. Even though we have the same basic needs, they are at different levels and we find different ways to satisfy them.
For example, one person may have a low need for love/belonging. They may choose to satisfy that need by occasionally interacting with one person. That’s enough to feel connected; to belong.
However, another person may perceive that they need to be around many people all the time to feel satisfied that they are loved and belong.
Some folks perceive that celebrations and remembrances are essential. If you have experienced the joy of a new birth or the grief of losing a loved one in this past year, there’s a good chance that the gatherings traditionally held to mark these milestones don’t feel “non-essential” at all. However, not everyone agrees.
Ideally, we would be free to choose how to satisfy our needs, providing that satisfying our needs doesn’t interfere with the ability of others to do the same. In reality, that’s trickier than it sounds, as different people have different views of what constitutes interference.
Thus, it is no surprise that there are disputes about what rules are appropriate; about what is, indeed, essential. How do we deal with disputes?
Relationship-building habits indicate that trusting, supporting, and respecting are more effective in the long run than bribing, coercing and criticizing.
Do we trust that people who have been given good information will make good choices? Do we respect their decisions? Or do some people know what’s best for others? That is, do we dictate? Or do we inform?
If some behaviours work effectively in relationships, would we expect that the same behaviours work on a large scale—on society as a whole? I don’t know. What do you think?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom