To be a happy and successful individual we have six core needs that we must have met. When all of these needs aren't being met it leads us to feeling unfulfilled and discontent, sometimes despite our lives seeming to be ticking along just fine.
This concept was based a simplified version of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which I heard on a TED talk. These needs are certainty, variety, significance, love and connection, growth and contribution. Whether we realise it or not we strive to meet these needs continually, to varying degrees of success despite each of us having our own outlooks, lifestyles, careers; these six needs remain the same. They motive us, influence the decisions we make, the thoughts we have and the way we choose to live.
The first four needs are considered fundamental needs of the personality.
It is reassuring for us to have a particular amount of certainty in our lives. Knowing what is coming next and having some control over the events of our day to day existence is a way that we try to avoid stress. Certainty can help us to feel safe, secure and in command of our life.
Everyone will be familiar with having periods were there is change in their life; starting a new job, moving homes, changing schools. Not knowing what these changes will bring definitely creates some feelings of displacement and nervousness, but hopefully some excitement too. Too much change though leaves us feeling out of sorts.
The amount of certainty we aim for will vary from person to person. People who desire a lot of certainty will be less keen on taking risks, where as those who have a lower requirement for certainty will embrace taking on more change and unknown scenarios.
Along side certainty we also need variety. As much as we like the reassurance of a routine life having variety and change brings excitement. A life without this would be predictable, and our existence would feel stagnant and boring. The need for variety leads us to seek out new jobs, to have new experiences and to present ourselves with new challenges.
It's important to feel important, to have significance and a sense of identity. Who doesn't want to feel unique and special? How we satisfy our need to feel significant differs greatly. Some people do it through being outstanding in their work, others through their choice of clothes, others by being needed by somebody, and for some it may be about having a big following on instagram. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert it doesn't matter we each in our own way strive to set ourselves apart as it makes us feel significant; it enhances our sense of self.
Love and Connection
Love is the food of life. Feeling loved and making meaningful connections is so important to us. We all not only want, but need to have deep connections. Having a close friend that truly understands you, being able to communicate on a deep level with a significant other, feeling loved and feeling love for someone are some ways we can fulfill this need. Not having regular connections with others has a serious negative impact on us. We are after all social creatures and our lives are greatly impacted by our social environment.
The last two needs are seen as needs of the spirit and when we can manage to meet these needs we will feel fulfillment and happiness.
We all have the need to continue to grow. The human race wouldn't keep developing if it wasn't for this need. Throughout our lives we keep reaching to become more capable, to keep learning and to improve ourselves. When we feel like we are growing as a person it gives us a great feeling of validation.
A life with meaning does not come from all the things we have but from what we have to give. To be able to give to the people around us makes us feel so good. Giving others help, support, or our time is priceless. Having something to contribute is so fulfilling and as humans we yearn to be able to do so.
As with so many things in life it is important to have balance. With our six core human needs this is applicable as well. The desire for too much certainty will rob you of having variety in your life and may be a sign of insecurities that should be addressed. Having a good sense of significance is super but too much will hinder your ability to form meaningful connections with others. With growth and contribution ideally we'll equally focus on our journey to keep growing as much as we are giving to the people and our community.
This theory may take your fancy.... or not, either way it's a little bit of food for thought!
Photos courtesy in order of appearance www.loveyournature.com, www.medium.com, www.collective-evolution.com, www.manitobacooperator.ca, www.dosomethingcool.net.