9 Basic Needs We Have to Meet to Feel Happy and Alive



by Sara Maude
tiny buddha

“No person, no place, and no thing has any power over us, for ‘we’ are the only thinkers in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.” ~Louise L. Hay

Seven years ago I felt a tangible sense of despondency about where my life was heading.

Having ended a six-year relationship, I found myself alone, feeling isolated, often with only a bottle of wine (or two) for company on a weekend. For the first time ever I wondered if I had depression.

After weeks of feeling helpless and sitting on my sofa crying, I decided enough was enough and started taking action to turn my life around.


In doing so I discovered the “Human Givens Basic Needs.” Suddenly, everything made sense to me.

I realized I didn’t have depression; I just hadn’t been meeting my basic needs in a healthy and balanced way.

Working through the basic needs, I scored myself a number between one and ten for each, with ten being fully met.

After taking action and pursuing a new diploma, I reflected on how much better I was meeting my basic needs for control, creativity, and stimulation, and how much happier and alive I felt as a result.

I also recognized that I was meeting my need for status in a new way, as people were amazed when I told them what I was studying.

Seven years on, I have never forgotten the basic needs. Every six months I take a few hours to do a stock check of my life to see how well I am meeting each of the needs, and where I need to take action or do something different.

At the moment I am training for my third marathon, which is meeting so many of my basic needs in one hit!

People tell me how awesome it is that I am running a marathon (attention and status), I look after my body better (mind/body connection), I have a goal (purpose), and I’m doing something positive with my time (creativity, stimulation, and sense of control).

As we head into the New Year, I’d invite you to take an evening, curl up warm, put on some music you enjoy, and take a stock check of your life.

Look at each of the different needs and mark out of ten (ten being fully met) how well you are meeting each one, and how.

Where you are not meeting a need fully, don’t worry. Instead, think about what actions you can take to improve this area, and write down some steps to achieving that.

Rather than trying to improve every area of your life all at once, I suggest focusing first on meeting one need that would make a considerable difference in your life, and then moving on to another.

Like me with my marathon, you may find that while meeting one need, you end up meeting others naturally as a result.

Finally, put your stock check or action plan somewhere you can see it daily.

Take a Stock Check of Your Basic Human Needs

1. The need for attention

We need quality attention from the people in our lives. More and more people in the world live alone. Unless your needs are being met elsewhere, a lack of attention can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness, and a lack of connection.

Join a meet up group, do an evening course, join a fitness group—anything that gets you out there and talking to like-minded people.

2. Mind-body connection

The way we look after ourselves physically directly impacts our psychological well-being. Feed your body good food and you’ll feel good. (That doesn’t mean pizza and wine!) Get out in the fresh air and get moving to get your serotonin and endorphins levels pumping, making you feel more alive.

3. Purpose and goals

Having a purpose or goal adds meaning to your life. Sign up for a 5K charity run, take up a night class, or volunteer for a local charity. Use your time to do the things you enjoy.

4. Connection to something greater than ourselves

A sense of connection to like-minded people or others who share your perceptions and work for a common goal is important. I chose to run one of my marathons for a homeless charity, for example.

It may be being part of a group raising awareness about a shared cause, or working for an organization that shares your values.

5. Creativity and stimulation

Boredom and a lack of achievement can leave you feeling unsatisfied and depressed. Spending time reading about a subject that interests you, learning a new skill or craft, or doing anything that stimulates the creative part of your brain will see you feeling happier and more stimulated.

6. Sense of security and safety

Without a sense of security and safety you can feel anxious. You don’t have to own your home to feel secure. Security can come from having a supportive partner and family or even changing your beliefs about what security and safety mean to you.

7. Intimacy and connection

It’s important to feel that at least one person really knows you for who you are. Intimacy and connection don’t require a romantic partner; it can just be a close relationship with someone, even your pet!

8. Sense of control

Feeling that you have no control in a given situation or in life can lead to feelings of hopelessness. In some cases people will over-control to compensate for feeling helpless. Trying to control people and situations you have no influence over will only suck your energy. Control the one thing you can—you.

9. The need for status

Being recognized for your talents helps meet your need for status. Take action to do something you have always wanted to do, such as a jewelry-making course, signing up to a sporting group, taking up dressmaking, or volunteering your talents where they would be well received.



Small changes in your life can create a big ripple effect, and, like me, you may be surprised by how much happier, healthier, and alive you will feel as a result.

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