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Human Needs and Sustainable Development

In psychology, we categorise human needs into six basic needs. The fundamental of human motivation is guided by the six basic human needs. These needs are always around us and closely influence our daily activities regardless what we do and where we go. Sometimes, we could control our  needs but it would appear again as short as five minutes. Human needs shape our attitudes, behaviour and our decision daily. Seems scary? No, by understanding the six basic of human needs, you can satisfy our own needs with millions of ways for you to achieve ultimate authentic happiness.

The First Human Need: Certainty/Comfort

Do you know that we always look for certainty that could make us feel comfortable? Human brain always wants to have pleasure and to avoid pain. For example, in a couple relationships, they would look for secure environment and consistency relationships. In addition, you can satisfy your needs through physical habits such as eating, drinking and even exercise. My friend, Tim would eat when he felt stress. However, sometimes you can fulfil your physical needs but HARM your health such as smoking, drinking or even drugs.

In addition, you could feed your needs with certainty and comfort as simple as beliefs. For example, you can have faith that your problems will be resolved. If you plan your schedule ahead, you could reduce the risk and uncertainty. However, level of uncertainty is abstract and different according to their exposure, background, culture. For example, a person from Africa could feed the needs when the food at home is sufficient for a month. However, it would not satisfy another person who stays in the United Kingdom.

To sum up code words for certainty are comfort, security, safety, stability and predictability. According to Maslow Motivation theory, conform and certainty are located at the bottom line of the human’s needs. However, when things get rough, what are some things that you do to feel certain?


The Second Human Need: Uncertainty/Variety

Human needs uncertainty. Human life would be bored if we kept on repeating the same task. We need a variety and challenge that would stimulate and train our emotional and physical range. Our brain needs a certain range of uncertainty, exercise, suspense, variety and surprise to keep us active and healthy. I am very sure if you have fish and chip each day, you might like to enjoy a Japanese cuisine sometimes.  Human is dynamic and our emotional and physical state will change each day. The acceptance degree of uncertainty is actually coloured our life and our life would become more challenging.

How do we fulfil the human needs on uncertainty? It can be done as simple as watching a movie or some of them would choose to race cars or climb mountains. And don’t forget a major source of variety for all of us: problems. When things don’t go as you planned, when expectations are foiled and things go in a different direction, that’s uncertainty/variety as well. What kind of variety/ uncertainty do you experience on a regular basis?

To sum up, the code words for uncertainty are fear, instability, change, variety, chaos, refreshment, craving, release, suspense, exertion, surprise, problem and crisis. Are there ways in which the feeling of uncertainty actually serves to give you variety?


The Third Human Need: Significance

Human tends to feel motivated when other fees you are important, needed and wanted. Even babies needed to feel that they were number one. Usually, if you are the only child, you will feel full of attention and love. If you had siblings, you competed with them for love and attention—you found your niche, whether as the smart one or the scrappy one or the loving one or the obedient one. Why human has such a feeling?

In fact, this need is still with us – the need to feel special and important in some way has helped shape who you are today. You can feel significant by building or achieving something, or you can feel significant by tearing something or somebody down. In psychology, the feeling of significance comes when you start to compare yourself with others – hierarchical pecking orders and superiority/inferiority. Some of us will take it positively that significance leads you to raise your standards. In contrast, if you are over focus on significance, you will have trouble feeling connected with people, because the comparison game marks out our differences rather than what we have in common significance in a self-deprecating way. This comparison creates low self-esteem among them. They would start to question themselves if they are good enough and up to the standard.

How do you get significance? The common concept for significance are pride, importance, standards, achievement, performance, perfection, evaluation, discipline, competition, plus any words connected with being “rejected” or being “good enough.”


The Fourth Human Need: Love/Connection

Love and connection are essential human needs. Human connections satisfy our needs.  That is why we need friends and accompany. Some of us would join a club or an association to satisfy our needs in term of connection. Similarly, everyone strives for and hopes for love. If you are alive today, you were loved. You needed to feel loved and touched in order to survive, and that need is still at your core. In this sense, love is the ultimate survival instinct, and it comes before the baby can take care of its own basic bodily needs.

So love is a big part of who you already are, no matter who you are. The obstacles to love lie in your belief system about how to get the feeling of love, your rules about how to recognize and appreciate love, and your ability to learn to give love as well as receive it. Some people rarely experience love, but they have many ways of feeling connection with others—in the community or in the workplace.

Do you experience love in your life, or do you focus on connection with others, a less threatening form of love? When in your life have you felt really loved? I am very sure you have experience it in any spot in our life. Just as simple as donating  one USD to a bagger, we deliver and sending our love to him. Picking a rubbish from the road side shows that you love the mother earth. Feeding the animals indicates your love towards living.

To learn more how important of love to even an animal, you are always encouraged to view youtube on “Monkey” you will learn even a monkey would need love and security. To sum up, the love and connection can be described with the following terms, togetherness, unified, connected, passionate, “on the same page.”

Remember, these first four human needs are the needs of the personality and must be met at some level by everyone. The last two needs are the needs of the spirit, which are essential to human fulfillment. These are growth and contribution.


The Fifth Human Need: Growth

Why growth is catagorised as human needs? We only stop to grow when we die. We are constantly developed emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. There is a universal law about growth either we are going or dying. There is no category in the middle. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Anything that you want to remain in your life—your money, your body, your relationship, your happiness or love—must be cultivated, developed, expanded. Otherwise it will degenerate. What does this mean for us? There is no “retirement,” a terminal point where we simply get to keep and enjoy what we have. If your body, your finances, or your relationships are in a good state, be prepared to continue to care for and expand them. Keep growing to make yourself comfortable and shine in your life.


The Sixth Human Need: Contribution

“It is better to give than to receive”. What does this idiom mean?  Contribution to others is the last human needs.  We could understand that, we could only contribute to other when we go beyond your own needs and give to others. Our brain would focus on other elements when we are trying to help people and forgo our own pain and sadness. Therefore, contribution is the human need that effectively regulates your other five needs. If you are focused on contribution, you have the certainty of being able to contribute (there is always a way); you have variety in the number of things that can go right and wrong (contribution is highly interactive); you have significance because the commitment to contribution is rare and is the sign of an extraordinary person; you have connection because there is a spiritual connection in helping others; and you have to experience growth because contribution requires you to go beyond your own needs. From this perspective, the purpose of human needs psychology is not only to take care of your own needs but to expand and serve others in an attitude of leadership and contribution. If you are focused on growth and contribution, it is difficult to get bored or depressed.

We live in a closed system according to system theory. Remember that what we are doing now might not be rewarded now but it could someway and somehow we could be rewarded. We call this system their “model of the world.” One person may give himself or herself the feeling of certainty by always controlling the environment, a second person may feel certain by not trusting anyone, and a third person may get the feeling of certainty by holding a spiritual belief. Everyone can meet their own needs in sustainable ways that serve the greater good of themselves and others, or they can meet their own needs in ways that sooner or later harm themselves or others.


Unmasking the Ugly Society

Human needs are not difficult to fulfil. However, we are living in a temporary and fragile society. A small changes in our life shaken our needs.  For instance, when financial failure comes to a businessperson who gets the feeling of significance from being financially successful, he or she will experience a loss of significance. When someone who gets the feeling of importance from taking care of others suddenly becomes unable to help others, he or she will also experience a loss of significance.

When people lose their usual ability to meet their needs, they react by trying to find other ways of regaining their sense of significance, at least temporarily. Sometimes these temporary solutions lead to short-term solutions and other times they lead to harm.

Just ask yourself, if you are given another 24 hours to life by our “creator”, what would you do? Would you look for more money? Would you harm others to gain significance? Would you destroy other to satisfy your comfortable needs? Would you strike to get love and connection? Would you struggle for another day for growth or would you try to increase your uncertainty and variety of life? I am sure you know the answer!


The purpose of human needs psychology is to understand a person’s model of the world, to bring about a conscious understanding of personal choices, and to assist the person in finding new ways to meet personal needs in ways that will enhance personal sustainability.

Getting towards the goals in our life is essential but the process moving our goals play more significance role because what we are doing now would be accounted in our life. Path to authentic happiness starts from us. Let’s take a small step within ourselves; we could make the world a better place. You and I can do it!

Dr. Leow Chee Seng

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