The Six Core Human Needs

Why do human beings do the things they do? What is the force that drives and shapes all of our emotions, actions, qualities of life, and ultimately, our destinies? This drive is encoded in our nervous system.

While each human being is unique, we also share nervous systems that function in the same way. There are also six fundamental needs that everyone has in common, and all behavior is simply an attempt to meet those six needs. As you read them, please note that they are all believed to be essential to our well-being and happiness. You may also resonate with some more than others.

1. CERTAINTY: assurance you can avoid pain & gain pleasure
The need for safety, security, comfort and consistency... I can count on something or someone to keep me safe. 

2. VARIETY: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
The need for surprise, variety and engaging the unknown… I have options and choices to excite and stimulate me. 

3. SIGNIFICANCE: feeling unique, special or needed
The need to feel important, needed, wanted and worthy of love… I am unique and valued.

4. LOVE & CONNECTION: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
The need for feeling connected with and loved by other human beings… I am loved and I belong. 

5. GROWTH: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
The need for growth and learning: emotionally, intellectually and spiritually… I am learning and growing. 

6. CONTRIBUTION: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others
Giving beyond ourselves and giving to others… I am sharing what I have with others.

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The means by which people meet these six human needs are unlimited. For example, one of the six human needs is the desire for certainty that we can avoid pain and gain pleasure (i.e. comfort). Some people pursue this need by striving to control all aspects of their lives, while others obtain certainty by giving up control and adopting a philosophy of faith. Variety makes us feel alive and engaged. Then there’s the desire for significance—a belief that one’s life has meaning and importance. Some individuals will pursue this need by competing with others, or by destroying and tearing down those around them. Others may strive to fulfill this need through connection with other human beings.

 

The force of life is the drive for fulfillment; we all have a need to experience a life of meaning. Fulfillment can only be achieved through a pattern of living in which we focus on two spiritual needs: 1) the need to continuously grow; and 2) the need to contribute beyond ourselves in a meaningful way. All dysfunctional behaviors arise from the inability to consistently meet these needs. When our attempts to reach fulfillment fail, we will settle for comfort—or for meeting our needs on a small scale. Look to replace any dis-empowering ways of meeting your needs with things that empower and support you and others.

Understanding these needs, and which ones you are trying to meet in any given moment, can help you create new patterns that lead to lasting fulfillment. Glancing over the 6 Core Human Needs above, you may reflect on which are your two greatest needs. You may also reflect as to the degree that you feel that these needs are being met: by your work, your family, friends, and life choices in general.

(Tony Robbins)

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