One of America’s most well-known and respected psychiatrists is Dr. William Glasser. He is the author of numerous books on counseling, mental health and teacher improvement. The term “Choice Theory” is closely associated with his work and is the culmination of some 50 years of research into the theory and practice of psychology and counseling. His theory posits that behavior is central to our existence and that it is driven by five basic human needs we are continually attempting to satisfy:
1. Survival - includes hunger, thirst, shelter and sexual drive
2. Love/Belonging - to love and be loved, to belong and have friends
3. Power – feeling worthwhile; achievement and winning
4. Freedom - ability to choose how we live our lives free from the control of others
5. Fun – includes pleasure and enjoyment
When I first saw number five on the list, I was a little surprised. Why would this well respected researcher of human behavior refer to fun as one of our five basic human needs? In my opinion, Dr. Glasser is right on with his observation. I believe that all people have an inborn desire for fun placed in us by a loving Heavenly Father. I also believe that Glasser uses the word fun to represent several other terms that we are very familiar with. In scriptural language, this need is probably illustrated with two familiar scriptures: “…Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25) and “…The great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8).
These words represent the same meanings that Glasser found in his vast research. Since all of the five basis human needs are represented by one word in his theory, he simply chose the word fun to represent the need for joy and happiness. Prophets have chosen different words to say the same thing. When we have fun, we are happy and enjoy life. When we have fun, we feel relaxed and can temporarily forget about some of our challenges. In fact, worries, cares, or concerns which we experience seem to fade into the background, and we feel rejuvenated when we are having fun.
If these five areas are truly basic human needs, just think what implications this knowledge has for individuals and families? First, the adversary would use these needs for our destruction. Also, businesses would use them to take advantage of us financially. In addition, peers would use these to tempt us to follow the crowd. So, if these needs are not met in the home, we will go outside the home to seek them. But of course, if we get these needs met in our families, we can be happy, content, and safe.
Have you every noticed that almost every beer ad shows people having fun? Coincidence? Of course not! What many fail to realize is the situations depicted would be just as fun if people were drinking orange juice, milk, or water. Anytime you go to the beach with close friends, there is a very good chance you will have fun. Watching a football game with close friends is fun whatever you drink. It has nothing to do with the beer! Most ads for alcohol do, in fact, appeal to all five basic needs pointed out by Glasser. However, they focus heavily on our need for fun, then associate it with their product.
Think about some of the slick ads that play upon our need for fun:
“Happy hour 5:00-7:00” Alcohol ad
“Your passport to pleasure” Cigarette ad
"Happiness is a cigar called . . .” Cigar ad
"Don't live a little, live a lotto" Gambling ad
"It's fun to play together" Video game ad
"The joy of . . ." Caffeinated drink ad
Advertisers have done a good job convincing our society of their products are good even when they wreck havoc in our society.. In this nation, a vast majority of youth and adults feel as if they can’t have fun if they don’t drink alcoholic beverages. Most are shocked when they hear that someone does not drink. Even with the vast research connecting alcohol with various social and health problems, it is those that don’t drink who are a little weird. When high school students talk about going out and having a fun Friday night, are they talking about visiting a nursing home? No, that isn’t what youth in our society normally call fun.
Challenge: Make your home a fun place for your children and their friends so they don’t go our seeking it in inappropriate ways.
Video: Dan having fun with kids
Video: 5 Star Potato Soup
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