Our overall happiness and contentment in life is based on having our human needs met.

You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (below) as it’s well known in the education, personal development and business world. According to Maslow, humans needed to have one set of needs met before they could consider fulfilling those on the next level above. So first of all we need food, water, warmth and rest before we can consider security and safety and so on.

It’s a model that’s still used, but is it correct?

It has the human need for belonging and love placed after security and safety. Yet think about it, human babies are totally dependent on connection and bonding to survive and thrive and research has shown this. An example of the negative effects that lack of connection can have was in the children found in Romanian orphanages in the early 90’s after dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed.

I think it’s more useful to think of human needs in a non hierarchical way. One way being the 6 human needs developed by Tony Robbins.

By his model, we all have the same fundamental six human needs, listed below. We each place different levels of importance on these needs and that level of importance was developed primarily in the first 7 years of life. This is the time when our core values, beliefs and attitudes are laid down in response to our upbringing, environment, experiences and emotions.

So it stands to reason then that we also have different beliefs about how to satisfy those human needs. The first four are what Tony calls ‘needs of the personality’ and two are ‘needs of the spirit’.


The 6 Human Needs

Certainty – this is the need for safety, stability, security, comfort, predictability, order and control.

Uncertainty – this would be the need for variety, surprise, excitement, difference, change, novelty, adventure, challenge, risk and even chaos.

It’s a bit of a paradox but we have need of both. If we have too much certainty, we get bored and too much uncertainty can affect our wellbeing and mental health. The proportion of one to the other will differ from person to person. I have a higher need for uncertainty, which suits what I do.

Significance – this is the need to feel important, worthy, have meaning, to matter, be special and wanted.

Love – is the need to feel connected, loved by others, to matter, have approval, attachment, be included and wanted.

These two need to be in balance too. If you focus too much on being significant, you might find difficulty in having deep intimate relationships. Similarly if you have a very strong need to be loved, your individuality and significance can be lost.

Everyone finds a way to meet these four needs, which can be in a positive or not so positive way. As an example, you can feel significant when getting recognition in performing well in your job or from pointing a gun at someone as Tony Robbins says in his Ted Talk, “Why We Do The Things We Do.” You can find it on YouTube – which doesn’t like me sharing the link here for some reason!


The last two needs are the spiritual ones. They’re about meaning and fulfilment.

Growth – is about the need for continued personal development emotionally, spiritually, self actualisation, transcendence.

Contribution – is the need to give back, to care, serve, support, help and protect others.


So how can knowing your most important human need benefit you?

Well, knowing it means you can then reflect on how you meet that need. How does it affect your thinking and behaviour? If your beliefs, thinking and behaviour to get that need met are limiting and destructive, you can learn to create new patterns and more consciously control the direction of your life.

It can also reveal why you might feel conflicted, unsatisfied or incongruent inside. You know, those niggly feelings that are there but you can’t put your finger on! From this place of awareness you can take better more effective action.

Knowing how you rate the importance of the 6 human needs might show an imbalance that when changed bring greater harmony into your life.

When used in a positive way, knowing our human needs can help us unlock hidden potential, which when harnessed will lead to lasting fulfillment.

We’ve been looking at human needs in my facebook group – Magnificent Minds and I’d love to welcome you to join us over there. Either follow the links below to the posts or join here.

Now, I bet you’d like to know where to find out your primary human need and where all the others come in importance to you! There’s a great 5/10 minute questionnaire you can do here. I’d love to hear your results. 

If you’d like to chat through your results or you’d like to change your thinking, beliefs and behaviour to create a more success, happiness with less stress then get in touch for a no obligation chat.