Six Basic Human Needs

Six Basic Human Needs

I have conversations with a lot of people about life. Life moments, and focus, ambitions and dreams. I talk with a lot of people who seem to still be struggling with what their life focus should be and how to find meaning and purpose. In these conversations I try to listen to what their needs are and to gently supply suggestions as to how these needs can be filled. I believe this applies to my own human need for Growth and Contribution.

Some years ago, I was introduced to the concept of “Basic Human Needs”. There are six needs that generally control every decision that a person makes in their life.

These needs are:

  • Certainty: The need for security, stability, and reliability.
  • Variety: The need for change, stimulation, and challenge.
  • Significance: The need to feel acknowledged, recognized, and valued.
  • Love and Connection: The need to love and to feel loved, and to feel connected with others.
  • Growth: The need to grow, improve, and develop, both in character and in spirit.
  • Contribution: The need to give, to help others, and to make a difference.

These first four needs are needs of the personality:


The first of the basic human needs is the need for Certainty. It is a need to know what is going to happen next so that we can feel in control. This aids to basic comfort and the avoidance of stress and things that cause pain. But this also applies to pleasure. It also affects how much risk we’re willing to take in our jobs, relationships, and in our money.


Some people say they like surprises. But I believe that we really only like the surprises that we want. The surprises that we don’t want are called problems. However both are needed for building of strength and character.


We all need to feel important, unique or special in some way. You can get it by earning billions of dollars, or collecting academic degrees. You can build a giant Instagram following or you can become the next Real Housewife of Atlanta. You could do it by having more or bigger problems than anybody else. “You think your childhood was bad, let me tell you all about mine.”

Love and Connection

Love is the breath of life; it’s what we all want and need most of all. When we love we feel alive and exuberant, but when we lose love, the pain is so great that most people then settle on connection, the crumbs of love. You can get that sense of connection or love through intimacy with our partners, or friendships, or prayer and spirituality, or walking in nature with your bare feet to the ground.

The next two needs are needs of the spirit. When these needs are met, one can truly feel fulfilled.

Need 5: Growth

Lack of growth in personal development, in relationships, in business, equals death. Death metaphorically and sometimes literally. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Need 6: Contribution

Life is not about me, or you, singularly; it’s all about us, we, in the plural sense. Life does not happen without others. And sharing that life enhances everything you experience. First thing most people want to do when they get exciting news is to go and tell someone! Giving back to your community, helping your family, teaching are all small, yet in no way insignificant, ways many people chose to feel contribution in their lives

These needs determine how one operates within their life. Knowing the needs of yourself as well as of others can help you better understand where someone operates when a decision is made. Helping your partner feel variety when that is their need could help bring joy into both of your lives. Seeking out methods to help your child’s school raise money can bring joy when contribution is a need. Don’t be annoying to the other moms by bragging about you raising the most money if significance is your need.

Here is a link to a test that can help you determine your top two human needs and how your other needs rank in order. Knowing your needs can help you make decisions that will enable you to feel fulfilled in your life but also help other people understand and relate to each other.