The Great Paradox Of The Things Humans Need.

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Paradox - apple reflecting apple core in mirror
Artist: Alexander Sviridov/shutterstock photo

We all have things we need.  The same basic, fundamental needs.  And they are needs, not just desires.

I listened to a talk by Tony Robbins which spoke about the six needs of every human being, and here they are:

The Need For Certainty.

As humans, we are all looking for definiteness in life.  We want to know where we are going to live; that we have a roof over our heads, and food to put on the table.

We like predictability because it makes us feel safe.  I suppose certainty meets our need for survival; we can be assured that we will survive.

However, the next need is the other side of the same coin.

It is:

The Need For Uncertainty.

Here’s the thing.  Once we have our certainty, we grow bored.

There are a bunch of ways to bring uncertainty into our lives.  A lot of people watch movies.  In those movies, we can be certain we are safe, but we get to live adventure and thrills vicariously.

Some people might take drugs, go skydiving, or do other adrenaline-filled activities.  Why?  Because it meets the need for adventure, variety, and uncertainty.

Lots of people, once they are married or in a long term relationship, become bored with their partner.  The relationship becomes predictable, routine.  Boring.  And so they crave the excitement of a new relationship.  Maybe that’s why so many end up with one relationship after another.  I guess that’s why there are also clubs for swingers and any other thing you can think of.  Because people are bored, and desperate for some variety, some uncertainty in their lives.

Brent and I don’t watch much TV.  We watch some movies, and any TV series we’re particularly interested in.  But we don’t sit there night after night with the remote control, channel hopping.

I guess that’s why we can’t stay anywhere for long.  We get a house, get our certainty, and then six months later we sell up and move on.  What a hassle!  But I’m understanding myself a little better now.  We want somewhere permanent, so we rent a house for six months to a year, or buy a place, and when we’ve got it the way we want it (usually at about the 9 month mark), we become bored with its sameness, and the predictability of sleeping under the same roof every night; seeing the same view out of the window.  So we sell up and move on.  Rinse and repeat.

And all because doing this meets our need for certainty, and then uncertainty.

However, the problem here is the we don’t seem to have both simultaneously.  Having certainty while being on a big adventure would be awesome.  At least I know what I have to work on: a way to have both at the same time.

This brings me to the next need:

The Need For Significance.

Who doesn’t want to feel appreciated and loved?  Who doesn’t want to feel like they are a decent person?  And who doesn’t want to feel as though they are good at what they do, so that people ask their advice?

We all have the need to be respected and appreciated.  And we also have the need to feel unique, ‘different’.

Some people may get that by dressing in their own unique style.  They might meet this need by being a rebel, the crazy one.  Or they might be really driven in business, and push themselves hard to achieve big things.

Maybe that’s why violence exists.  Point a gun at someone’s head, and all of a sudden the perpetrator is significant.  No arguments there.

Each different religious group feels they have the only truth, and therefore that makes them the significant ones in the eyes of their god, and all the others are just, well, wrong.

Significance is often found by people tearing others down to make themselves feel better.  Or there are people who are a bit like doormats, never able to say no, and always going above and beyond for others.  Often it’s their need for recognition and appreciation that drives them though.  Don’t get me wrong; there are people who go above and beyond purely from a place of love.  But there are the ones who do it because they want others to appreciate them.  There is a difference.

It doesn’t mean it is wrong.  It just means that we all try to fulfill our needs one way or another.

Now we come across another paradox.  the opposite to the need for being unique and significant.  It is:

The Need For Connection (aka The Need To Fit In).

We all have the need to belong.  To fit in.  And to connect.

When we click with people and are on the same wavelength as them, we get all warm and fuzzy.  We belong!  And then once we feel that connection, we suddenly need to back off and find our own unique identity again.

I guess I’m starting to understand myself a little better here, too.

Brent and I have this need to be different, to travel, live life on our own terms.  And then when we are off on our adventures, we suddenly feel the need to be back with family, to be home; to belong.

So again, the key to real fulfillment is to find a way to be able to have both, all the time.  Because if you have one without the other, there is no true fulfillment.  Fulfillment comes when all of our needs are met.

People gather others around them who are like minded.  From bikers, to religions, to sporting activities; we are all looking for our tribe, the people with whom we connect.

The Need For Growth.

Next comes the need for growth.  This is something that appears to be hard wired into the human psyche, too.

We need to be stretched, challenged, learning, growing.

I can’t say anything more in regards to this.  In my opinion, we grow, or we die slowly on the inside.

I am understanding myself better here, too.

The Need For Meaning.

The last need, is the need to contribute something meaningful, which is bigger than just ourselves.

Without that, we shrivel up inside, too.

Victor Frankl was a psychologist and a holocaust survivor.  He said that within the concentration camps, those who held on to hope, who held on to the belief that their existence and survival had meaning, were the ones who survived the terrible conditions.  He says those who lost hope, were the ones who lost the will to live, and just died.

We all need to feel that we have purpose, meaning, and something to contribute outside of ourselves.

And when we can find that way for us to contribute and give back; we will be happy and fulfilled.

Because we have a need more important than financial riches and success. It is the need to know that even though our lives are transient, we have left our mark on the world.  An indelible mark; a ripple effect.  And one which will still be there long after we are gone.


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