Christine Miserandino: recent publications

'Spoon Theory' Doesn't Quite Work for You? Try the 'Arcade Theory.'

In 2003, Christine Miserandino constructed the Spoon Theory to illustrate the limitations she faced living with lupus. According to her Spoon Theory, she begins each day with a finite number of spoons, each representing a percentage of the physical and mental energy she has for the day. Small tasks may take one spoon, larger tasks three or four. Once all the spoons are used up for the day, she is done. There are no more spoons, there is no more energy.

The Spoon Theory has been widely embraced and adopted by the chronically ill community because it helps illustrate how difficult it can be to meter out our time and energy when it is such a finite resource. As much as I adore the theory, though, for me it didn’t paint a full picture of not only my personal limitations, but also how those limitations play out with my peers and in everyday life.

I imagine it to be more like going to the arcade. All around me, there are kids with pockets full of change. How much I have to play with, though, varies by the day. On some rare days, I feel really lucky and I might have five dollars. While that might not seem like a lot to most people, for me it feels like a fortune. On other days, I only have a dollar or two. On rougher days, I might have nothing at all, meaning I either sit out and watch others from the sidelines or I stay home altogether.

Every game costs something to play. There are many simple games that cost a quarter, and harder ones that might cost two. The best games are also the most costly. If I choose to take on a bigger game that costs four quarters, that might be the only game I get to do for the day.

The kids who always have a lot of change are able to play a lot of games every day. They are more adept at playing

liking life feelings

Christine Miserandino

Related articles