Tuesday, March 7, 2017


      I’ve written about the 5-legged stool in the past, but it came to mind this morning as I ruminate about the balance in my life. We all need balance, and each of us has a different definition of what good balance is depending on our unique situations and needs. The definition can change through the years, as mine has. The 5-legged stool concept came from training I was fortunate enough to receive in my teaching days many years ago. The legs stand for:

  1. Biological needs
  2. Fun
  3. Freedom
  4. Love and Belonging
  5. Power

     According to William Glasser, the author of this theory, we all need a balance of these five elements to feel grounded and to be able to function in a healthy way. Glasser, a highly-respected psychologist, author and trainer, espoused that a balance of these five elements are essential to each of us as we face our days. He claimed that the lack of any of these would put the stool off balance, and we would have to use extra energy to compensate. I completely believe this, and any time I am feeling unsettled, anxious, irritable, I ask myself which leg is wobbly and why.

     The first leg is obvious. If we aren’t feeling well physically, any of the others will be compromised. So if your arthritis is flaring up or your left molar is throbbing, you’re likely to have less fun.

     Fun is crucially important, and some may dismiss this. Obviously, some peoples’ idea of fun is very different from mine. I’m not into fly fishing or Bunko, and many are not into writing blogs and crafting one-woman shows. The point is, however, that if you’re not including fun in your daily routine, you’re likely to be less content.

     Freedom is something we Americans may take for granted (at least until recently). This is not necessarily freedom in the national sense, but perhaps freedom due to responsibilities, relationship issues, financial constraints, etc. When we don’t feel “free,” we feel stuck, and that is not fun.

     Love and belonging have been proven by scientific research to be essential to the well-being of every human. No matter how much we might brag that we don’t “need” love in our lives, we do.  Belonging is also important, as we all need connection (ask Brené Brown), and without that connection, we are lonely and unsupported.

     Power is a little like freedom. Power is not running a business or a country, necessarily; it is having the ability to control our lives. When we are powerless, we are dependent, helpless and without answers. Power isn’t power over; it’s power to do and be. 

     Ok. All well and good, so how do you get all these legs in line? How do you keep them at the same length and in good health so you can balance on the stool? Well, if I had the answer to those questions, I would have written Glasser’s book, and I would have been very famous. As it is, I share with you the basics, and I hope you can find your own way to define and live according to your own definition of each category. 

     In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to keep my stool balanced and be able to twirl on it as well. Hmm. That looks like such fun, and it will make me feel so free:)