The Six Human Needs

So what are these six human needs? Have you ever stopped to wonder why we behave the way we do and why so many personality types exist? Why some humans are extroverted and others are introverted? Why some people prefer to give and others prefer to take? Or, while some humans put their lives on the line to help those in need and others murder for pleasure? According to philanthropist and entrepreneur Tony Robbins, all humans strive to meet six basic human needs, but each of us goes about it in a different way. Therefore, dysfunctional behaviours tend to develop when these six needs are not adequately fulfilled. When these needs are met, however, personal fulfillment results.

According to Tony Robins, the six human needs include the following: certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, connection/love, growth, and contribution. However, the order in which we prioritise them is different for everybody. While some people may view connection/love and certainty as the most important human needs, others may view certainty and significance as the most important. The first four needs all help to shape a person’s personality. On the other hand, growth and contribution lead to spiritual development. Below, we’ll highlight some of the basics to these six human needs.

1.   Certainty

The need for certainty in one’s life helps to shape an individual’s personality. This need includes the need for stability, safety, comfort, security, predictability, control, and consistency. The need for certainty helps humans to feel as if they can gain pleasure while avoiding pain and suffering.

2.   Uncertainty & Variety

Unlike the need for certainty, other humans seek new opportunities and challenges wherever possible. The need for variety and uncertainty in one’s life includes the need for excitement, adventure, change, and new experiences. While some humans prefer consistency and routine, others have a greater need for the unknown. However, it is important to achieve a good balance between certainty and uncertainty to avoid conflicting behaviors.

3.   Significance

As humans, we have a need for meaningful, important relationships and life events. Additionally, we strive to feel special, wanted, and needed. However, it is important to go about achieving significance in a healthy, non-destructive way. If a person spends too much time achieving significance in the world, they may struggle to develop close, meaningful relationships with others.

4.   Connection & Love

Just as we strive to feel significant in the world, we also strive to feel love and connection with the people around us. We long for communication and closeness—to feel appreciated and approved of. However, it is important to achieve a healthy balance between significance and connection/love to avoid conflicting behaviours.

5.   Growth

Unlike the first four needs that help to shape human personality, growth and contribution are referred to as needs of the spirit and they do not contradict each other. The first need of the spirit includes the need for growth. This need focuses on the need for spiritual development, intellectual and emotional development. Everything in life is either growing or dying, therefore progress and growth in any area of our life equals happiness.

6.   Contribution

The need to contribute in the community to better the lives of others also leads to spiritual development. This need focuses on giving, protecting, serving, and supporting others. We are not alone in this world; we are all part of a community, part of a whole. Our lives are connected with others and the more we explore these connections, the better off we will be. Contributing signifies making a difference and ultimately serving a greater purpose.

Meeting These Six Needs

To live healthy, functional lives, each of us needs to meet these six human needs in a constructive way. If we strive to meet these needs in a negative, destructive way, we will not be fulfilled or in peace with ourselves. For example, if we feel the need to achieve significance but we meet this need through harming, mocking or putting other humans down, we are not achieving the need for significance in an optimal way. On the other hand, a healthy way to achieve significance could involve performing volunteering work, meeting a career or education goal, or learning a new skill or activity. Once we learn how to achieve these six human needs in the healthiest possible way, we can go on to live positive, fulfilling, and constructive lives.