William Glasser claims that all of us are aware we live in a world we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell and we call it the real world or reality; we are inclined to assume that it’s the same world for all of us.
Optimists and pessimists live in the same world, as do the sane and crazy but each sees it differently. He says that much of what we see may be close to what others see or we couldn’t get along at all but it is not the same.
Glasser says that choice theory explains that the reason we perceive much of reality so differently from others has to do with another important world, unique to each of us, called the quality world.
This small, personal world, which each person starts to create in his or her memory shortly after birth and continues to create and re-create throughout life, is made up of a small group of specific pictures that portray, more than anything else we know, the best ways to satisfy one or more of our basic needs.
What these pictures portray falls into three categories:
- the people we most want to be with
- the things we most want to own or experience
- the ideas or systems of belief that govern much of our behaviour
Any time we feel very good, we are choosing to behave so that someone, something, or some belief in the real world has come close to matching a picture of that person, thing or belief in our quality worlds. Throughout our lives we will be in closer contact with our quality worlds than with anything else we know.
Glasser says that most of us know nothing about our basic needs but what we know is how we feel and we always want to feel as good as we can. Therefore, the overwhelming reason we chose to put these particular pictures into our quality worlds is that when we were with these people, when we owned, used, or experienced these things, and when we put these beliefs into action, they felt much better than did other people, things or beliefs.
Our quality worlds contain the knowledge that is most important to us. As much as we may try to deny the importance of this knowledge, according to Glasser, we cannot. When we say, I don’t care, we are not telling the truth. If what we are talking about is in our quality worlds, we care deeply.
For each of us, this world is our personal Shangri-la, the place where we would feel very good right now if we could move to it.
Maureen McKenna 2010