Are you creative? Dr. Glasser might suggest you have a high need for freedom.

I learned this when just before I turned 50, I took Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory level one and Reality Therapy courses. Dr. Glasser’s theory rests on that we are all in pursuit of creating a quality world by satisfying our five basic needs. I never thought of myself as a person who needed high levels of freedom, until this course delivered a pivotal epiphany of deep self-discovery. This understanding explained my past actions and helped me make satisfying and effective choices from that point further.

Intrigued? Possibly my story might inspire you to reflect, dig deeper, and adjust your life. If so, read on.

Prior to taking the Glasser courses, I never considered my own creativity as a strength or in abundance, despite having many creative projects on the go, (being a closet writer, crafting, loving creative movement, enjoying drawing, painting, sculpting, planning creative classroom lessons, baking, cooking, initiating and planning social and community events). I certainly recognized that constricting and formal situations often made me feel uncomfortable. Yes, I could accept and work within rules but I also admitted to being stubborn. In addition, in pursuit of decision-making, I wanted more options than not. Yet, ultimately I believed that success and happiness revolved around being efficient, organized and simple. Ironically, my enjoyment of engaging in being creative was of secondary importance.

During one of the sessions, the instructor pointed out that the need for freedom is directly linked to the need for creativity. I remember that moment like a light bulb went off in my head! Yes, teaching can be very systems driven and bureaucratic, in the daily classroom routines. On the other hand, the creativity in lesson planning, the implementation of a student-centred pedagogical approach, along with continual changing student behaviour, make school an exceptionally fluid environment. It requires professionals who are quick thinking, resilient and adopt a flexible proactive and creative mindset. Ultimately, I had the freedom to make moment-to-moment adjustments. I realized that I enjoyed and thrived as a teacher because I worked in a highly creative setting and thrived on constant change and options. Teaching addressed my need for freedom.

Taking it a step further and applying a needs assessment to my personal life, I admitted that in my relationship one of the aspects that I appreciated was the freedom in my marriage. Given our mutual high trust and respect levels, we supported each other in our various projects and friendships, (and continue to this day). Moreover, I asked, “What would it be like if I was married to someone who wanted to control every aspect of my existence and our life as a couple?” My answer was short and quick: No, it wouldn’t have worked.

When it came to after-work activities, I determined that I was most happy when I was creating something. I even cued to my compulsion to adjust and change recipes and my struggles to complete forms. My favourite type of work was (and still is) collaborative as more ideas and options are generated. After an analysis of my projects and interests pointed to creativity, I finally admitted, after looking at my professional and personal life, I thrived on generating a creative mindset.

The course progressed with more discussions on the other four basic needs presented by Choice Theory. It was then I linked the need for freedom to the need for fun. They seemed to go hand in hand given that I was always fulfilled and happy when free to be creative. Experimenting and engaging in imaginative play was opening my world to possibility, potential, awestruck wonder and learning. Ultimately, I was realizing that creative freedom begets learning, which in turn is FUN!

Combining all the self-reflection during the courses and my subsequent pondering over 16 more years, this ‘old fairy’ believes freedom is paramount, and my freedom is fed by my creative soul. Today, more than ever, when I am restless and devoid of joy, I choose not to chase distractions that have the potential to be unhealthy but engage in creative activities which fuel my need for freedom. My mantra is creative freedom or freedom to create, grounds, and feeds my soul.

My advice to everyone? Look within and give a value ( 0-5) to each of Glasser’s suggested five basic needs (survival, relationships, power, freedom and fun). Which need ranks high in your life? Maybe like me, you too, have a high need for freedom. Your primary answer to fulfillment might be maintaining a creative mindset. Even if you do not have a high need for freedom, I urge you to creatively play as your sense of freedom, awe and wonder will grow. As these feelings and learning blossom, the fun and joy in your life will naturally evolve in a healthy positive manner.