Six human needs
“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with” – Tony Robbins
What are the key aspects determining a happy and successful life? One interesting and practical answer to this comes from Tony Robbins, who refers to six human needs, so I thought I’d share that with you today. Regardless of where someone is in the world, their culture, religion or status, all humans share these six fundamental needs. They are hardwired into us. The first four are fundamental but it is the last two that takes life to the next level…a great life not just an ordinary one. Everything that we do is in order to meet these central needs.
Certainty – We all need a sense of comfort and peace, almost like a protective mechanism to avoid pain and gain pleasure- indeed, the two motives for any decision in our lives. People try in different ways to reach a level, be it the same work, television, or people in their lives. However, if there is too much certainty, this leads to boredom and if there is too little, this leads to fear. Everyone is different in terms of how much certainty they need. If your need for certainty stands at 60%, your need for the next human need, uncertainty is 40%.
Uncertainty – “Variety is the spice of life” as they say. Surprise is another word to describe this need. Despite the first need, it is rather paradoxical how we require the exact polar opposite! Lack of variety can give rise to unhappiness and boredom. Life would be pretty dull if each and every moment was predictable. We crave variety. For example, we wouldn’t go and watch the same movie again (OK- maybe LOTR and Star Wars are exceptions!) because we have a need for surprise/variety/uncertainty. This one is so powerful in that override ones values and belief systems- for example, in relationships, one can have strongly held beliefs and morals, but if there needs are not being met, the craving for uncertainty will prevail leading to immoral behaviours such as looking outside for other relationships or things that will make life less predictable and boring.
Significance – this is a need to feel special, wanted, unique, to have a sense of purpose. This can be met in various ways. Its different for everyone. And it can be done in positive and negative ways , again the potential to override otherwise good values and beliefs, to have this need met. Eg if a teenager joins a gang, he will soon be pretty significant- especially with a knife- no messing with him. It’s an easy way to get both these first two needs met- certainty as he knows it will bring significance when he takes out a knife or a gun and uncertainty as he never knows exactly what will happen each time he does this! Looking down upon others, such as tearing someone down, immediately gives one a sense of significance. For others it may be monetary, material objects, clothing, hair styles, tattoos, cars, skills, qualifications, or job titles. Everyone just uses different vehicles to attain significance. Celebrities are often victims of this and if one becomes too different and unique, this can affect the next human need.
Love and connection – this is fundamental. Connecting with ourself as well as others – family, friends and colleagues, nature, pets and of course, to something much greater than ourselves (God, Universe, Higher Power). We often forget about the connection to ourselves and having a respectful relationship with the self. Give in to silence on a regular basis. It is so important to be comfortable with who you are. Too many people are busy “doing” and not “being”. It’s ok just to “be” sometimes.
Contribution– a sense of service and purpose. Giving, helping and supporting others in the ways that each and every person can inherently do, to whatever degree, in relation to friends, family, community, society or country. Its about the principal, not necessarily monetary or materialistic. To leave this world a little better simply because we existed. Remember, there are NO spare parts in the Universe. We all have a purpose because we are all just little parts of the same universe, the same energy. Why should anyone be any less significant than the next person? But how you show up in the World is your choice and yours alone.
Growth – if we are not growing we are dying! We were meant to flourish. We all have a purpose and we wont be completely content if we are not growing, regardless of how far we may have come already. Keep flourishing –don’t stop. Life is a never ending school- infinite!
So how is all this relevant?
- Are ALL these needs being met? If not, then focus on the ones that are not. Just to be aware of these needs can help us to move towards a meaningful life, not just a daily struggle and grind to get up,work and sleep.
- Which of these needs are your main motivators? What drives you? It’s interesting to observe this in ourselves and others because it is the relative importance of these that have led you to previous decisions and will determine what you decide for the future.e.g a high level for a need for certainty can lead to being too comfortable in one job or location without crossing the line of fear to experience something different. Remember, life begins outside your comfort zone.
- How are you meeting these needs- in positive or negative ways?
- How can you then replace any negative ways into positive ones to meet that need? E.g. voluntary work, finding time for silence/self reflection, using your inherent creative skills.
- Evaluate all six human needs regularly. A balance of all these needs is necessary and the relative importance of them all is unique amongst us all, which is fine, because everyone and their life experiences are unique. Remember, success without fulfilment is failure.