There are many overused and abused terms in the human language instigated by emotion. I need a new car. We need a vacation. I need someone to feel worthy. Yet it’s really the same bare essentials that root us in true contentment. While we each carry different burdens, hold different desires and strive for different goals, we are all driven by parallel reasons. So, what are the basic human needs and how do you meet them in a healthy way?
We all have different reasons for doing what we do. For taking certain actions, behaving the way we behave. Yet there’s an inner commonality that drives people to make the choices they make. It’s not necessarily the action itself that reveals much at all, but the basic human need behind that action. There are, often times unconscious, patterns that we exhibit everyday which are behind both our big and small, seemingly insignificant, decisions. These patterns are driven by, according to Tony Robbins, renowned life coach and author, six basic human needs. These needs, or reasons, are why we do what we do. The six basic human needs, which we will explore in a moment, are said to be basic yet they are deeply rooted and profound.
So while life and people can be wildly and even inexplicably complicated, we all have only six basic reasons that are really behind our choices and behavior. Pretty hard to believe right? I’m talking people everywhere, from all walks of life. Most of us attribute how we live our life to the result of past experience, education, even problems, along with a wide range of emotions. But strip all of that down and you have these six basic human needs; and once you read them, you will hopefully understand yourself and others on a deeper, more compassionate and balanced level.
What are the 6 Basic Human Needs
As we peel the proverbial onion to reveal what the basic human needs are, you will find that all six, while yes ‘basic’, run deep. Yes these needs are simple but they have the power to significantly impact on your happiness and success. When you first pose the question, what are the basic human needs, know first and foremost what they are not. These needs are not desires. They are not goals. They are not acquired by way of external influences or “things”. While every culture, every human being, has different goals and desires, we all nevertheless have the same core needs. And once you understand a little more about how each of these drives you, or someone else you encounter, you will have the insight to manage your own life and relationships in a productive, meaningful way.
Click to Expand Each of the 6 Basic Human Needs:
The purpose of a goal is not to get the goal, the purpose of a goal is who we become trying to achieve it.Tony Robbins
If Human Needs are So Basic, Why Don’t They Look Same for Everyone?
If we all have the same basic human needs, why do we behave differently? The reason you and I and everyone else respectively behave in different ways is because we value what each these basic needs mean to each of us in a unique way. As a broad example, if I value certainty the most and you value love as your most important need, we may not always be aligned with one another. While we may both share a love and respect for each other, if you lack certainty about our relationship, or even life in general, you may not be as open with me. And I, the one who values certainty, may often look for (and need) continual reassurance from you.
Yet, to explore this scenario a little more deeply, two people can also value the same one or two basic needs equally but have different approaches to achieving those needs. You may have a different take on what it means to experience love or to be loved. And I may have a different view on what it takes to really be certain about a variety of things such as success, faith, relationships, etc. Neither of us are wrong or right in how we go about achieving our needs (as long as we approach those needs in a positive way).
So when we ask what are the basic human needs, it’s not a simple answer or definitive list. While Tony Robbins breaks down these needs in terms that we can understand on the surface, it’s only through self-awareness and self-exploration that we can really internalize them and also relate better to each one. But the good news in this big question about what drives us to do what we do is that we crave answers to our own humanness and desire to connect with one another on a deeper level.
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Combining Human Needs to Live Your Best Life
When you realize that doing what you do or feeling a certain way meets more than one of your needs, then you become addicted, in a positive or a negative way, to that mindset or behavior. For example, while certainty and uncertainty are opposite needs, you can still utilize both and value them deeply to achieve what you want. More specifically, ever go back to the theatre to see the same movie a second time? You know how it ends right? Yet you’re certain that you’ll enjoy it, but maybe hoping for some variety because you’ve forgotten some of the scenes. Nevertheless you’ll enjoy the movie all over again.
So it’s not if you are able to meet your needs. You can meet any of the needs above, especially the first four needs pertaining to personality. The question is How? The important thing to focus on is not if any of your needs are attainable. The important thing is if they are – and how you go about fulfilling them – are sustainable? Remember, the key is in how you approach each need and if your mindset and behavior are empowering, neutral or negative.
Therefore, know that if you want to make positive changes to your life, shiny objects and occasional willpower are temporary. But if more and more of your needs are met in a mindful and positive way, happiness will flow in to a strong and continuous momentum.
Basic Human Needs Need Awareness
So what is the biggest addiction in our culture? It isn’t alcohol, it’s not drugs, and believe it or not, it’s not even social media! Our biggest addiction is our problems. Problems give us temporary power in many ways. They allow us to try to deal with our deepest fear which is that we are not enough and that we won’t be loved. Why does this work so well? Because we all have problems. So it’s not my fault, it’s this problem or that problem. Problems like aches and pains, broken relationships, not having enough money, or too much bad luck tell us that we can avoid taking responsibilities for a moment. So we unconsciously meet our temporary needs through problems, making excuses, but that will never fulfill our deepest needs.
The first 4 basic human needs we talked about address the general needs of your personality. Everyone can find some level of certainty, uncertainty, connection and significance. Whether it’s in a positive or negative way, we can meet our personality needs. The last two basic needs are needs that create a higher more spiritual level of fulfillment. And few can easily achieve the two basic human needs of ongoing growth and contribution. Yet it is in continual growth and contribution where joy and abundance live.
Ultimately who you become will make you very happy or very dissatisfied depending how you have chosen to approach your decision making and live your life.
So don’t just look at the behaviors of others anymore. Now that you know what the basic human needs are, you know to shift your focus to how to attempt to meet each of those needs. When we observe through the lens of why rather than what, we become more tolerant and compassionate of others and ourselves. We build long, healthy relationships. And even more importantly, we achieve our goals by growing through life with greater awareness.