top of page
  • Writer's pictureBy Rachel @EmotionEnhancement

The 6 Human Needs For Happiness In Life & Relationships

Tony Robbins is a best selling author, entrepreneur and life coach. He helps people become successful in business, life and relationships. One of the core principles he teaches is that humans have six needs, which when fulfilled lead to a happy satisfying life. Tony's approach is quite unique, and not for everyone. He can be brash, direct and emotive. However, he provides an alternative viewpoint that I found helped to shift my prospective to a more positive, understanding view.

The six human needs are loosely based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Abraham Maslow was an american psychologist who studied how humans could reach their greatest potential. Maslow's theory is that human beings are motivated by a hierarchy of needs. That the most basic of human needs like food, shelter, security etc; must be mostly met in order to fulfill higher needs like love, self-esteem and personal growth. Tony Robbins sought to build on this theory, he developed his own version of the six human needs with psychotherapist Cloe Madanes. Tony believes that all humans have the same core six needs. If all six needs are met, a person will live a happy life. If some of the needs are not met, a person will be left feeling dissatisfied, frustrated and like they are searching for something. Most individuals prioritize two of these needs as most important to them. These two needs will drive much of their conscious and unconscious behavior. How people fulfill their needs can range from positive to negative behavior. For example, someone driven by the need to be significant; could work particularly hard to raise money for a favorite charity. If they choose to met this need in a negative way, they may become a bully, dominating their employees to make themselves feel significant. Getting a need met in a negative way will lead to a short-term, unsustainable benefit. Which ultimately leads to the pain which is trying to be avoided, resulting in unhappiness, feeling stuck and depression.

The six different needs are:

1. Certainty

This is the need of survival, to feel safe. We need to feel certain that we can avoid pain, but we also need to be certain that we can obtain some degree of comfort. We need comfort as constant pain would ultimately lead to death. People who have certainty as one of their most important needs will exhibit behaviors of needing to feel in control or being fearful of change. In intimate relationships they may need to feel certain before they can open themselves up to feeling love for another person. Certainty could be in the form of material security or knowing family live close by. Some people unknowingly have impossible requirements to make them feel secure. This leads to unhappiness as it never feels like the need is being met. This is why we can benefit from understanding our beliefs and changing the blueprint of them if they are impossible to met. A positive example of a need for certainty is exercising three times a week. This provides certainty as it sets a routine and provides a certain end result of being physically fitter. A negative example of the certainty need is remaining in a job that you are unhappy with. Though this provides you with a short-term feeling of certainty, it will suffocate other needs and will ultimately be unsustainable.

2. Unpredictability

This is the need for surprise, change and variety to prevent boredom. A positive example of fulfilling a need for unpredictability is learning a new skill. This provides something interesting and challenging to stimulate you. In an intimate relationship this need can be fulfilled by doing novel activities with your partner, going to new places or travelling together. A negative example of fulfilling this need is high-stress, irresponsible gambling. Though it might satisfy your need for unpredictability in the short-term, it could cost you your savings, house and relationships if it becomes a addiction.

3. Significance

This is the need to feel special, unique, important and to feel needed.

"You can feel more significant by achieving something, by building something, by learning something or even by tearing other people down. They are all legitimate ways to fulfill the need for significance. The need for significance can help you achieve more, do more, and become the person you desire to be. All professional athletes would probably admit that the need for significance is a big part of their careers. In fact, it’s probably one of the most important influential factors that go into every decision they make. On the other hand, the need for significance can be used for evil purposes. For instance, it can be used to hurt people or gain an unfair advantage. Take for example a bully. A bully bullies other people to feel important, significant, and worthy. Therefore the need for significance can actually lead to violence." - An In-Depth Exploration Of The Six Human Needs Shaping Your Life, Adam Sicinski

4. Connection/Love

This is the need to connect with other people and build deep relationships. Some will settle for connection even though they really want love. Others may over pursue this need to the point of codependency, were they loose their own identity for a relationship. A positive example of fulfilling a need for connection is showing affection for another through words or unselfish actions. A negative example is accepting a casual no-strings attached relationship, if you really want a serious relationship. In the short term it keeps you connected to someone that you have feelings for, in the long term it is preventing you from finding a serious relationship with someone that is willing to give that to you.

5. Growth

This is classed as a spiritual need; according to Tony Robbin's fulfilling the spiritual needs will create the most positive change in life. Growth is how you progress as a person, acquiring knowledge, improving how you relate to people and learning new skills. If you are not growing in some area of your life you will feel stuck. A relationship that does not grow will die. A need for growth can be fulfilled by something as simple as reading a book or becoming more aware of your actions and how they affect yourself and others.

6. Contribution

This is the second of the spiritual needs. Fulfilling a need for contribution means to share value with other people, follow a life's purpose and follow actions that are for the benefit of something bigger than you. We can only feel a certain amount of pleasure internally kept to ourselves, that pleasure increases by sharing it with others. Many people fulfill this need by small acts of kindness to others, volunteering, giving to charity or pursuing work that helps the environment or other's in some way.

The Needs Applied To Intimate Relationships

The six needs can also be applied to intimate relationships. This proves to be a relatively simple tool which can be used as building blocks for a successful relationship.

Tony Robins says

“If you’re in a relationship with somebody and you meet one of their needs, you’re going to have an acquaintance.

If you meet two of their needs, you’re going to have a friend.

If you meet three of their needs, you’re going to have a deep friendship or love.

If you meet four of their needs, it’s going to be a deep love.

If you meet five or six of their needs, you’re going to have a love slave. … They ain’t going anywhere.

But it’s got to be you meeting their needs, not the other way around.” - Tony Robbins On How To Master Relationships, J.D. Meier

Both partners should be aware of their own top two needs and their partners top two needs. Make these needs a priority but also ensure that the other needs are being met. To get this started ask your partner questions like; what actions make you feel loved? what makes you feel secure?. Growth is another useful need to focus on, relationships will generally break apart or stagnate if no energy is put into cultivating the connection. This could involve setting time aside each week to work on communication skills, or learning more about each others emotional triggers.

The Needs Applied To Your Life

Always consider if a decision is going to only meet your needs in the short term, or if it will meet your needs in the long term. Sometimes this might mean accepting short term pain if it is for the greater good of yourself and others in the long term. Considering proposed actions in line with the six needs will help bring awareness to your decisions. Evaluate the priority list of your needs, and if you should change your top needs.

The problem is, if you have significance or certainty as one of the top two needs of your personality, your life is guaranteed to have problems. Here’s why: in order to have certainty as number one, life has to stay the same — something that it does not do. So, in order to keep your life the same, you have to artificially control your environment, control the people and control yourself. The only way to achieve that is to lower your expectations or just be stressed out all the time, neither of which are a good option. If significance is one of your top two needs, you always have to be competing with someone else. More than likely, you have to lie to yourself about your real abilities or surround yourself with people that are less skilled. All dysfunctional behaviors arise from the inability to consistently meet these six needs. But, if you are able to reach them, in a healthy order — meaning significance and certainty are not at the top — you will have fulfillment. - Do You Need To Feel Significant, Tony Robbins Blog

You can visit Tony's website to find out more at and take a test to help you determine your top needs here.


Adam Sicinski, An In-Depth Exploration Of The Six Human Needs Shaping Your Life, IQ Matric -

J.D Meier, Tony Robbins On How To Master Relationships, Sources Of Insight -

Tony Robbins Blog, Do You Need To Feel Significant -


  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Color logo - no background.png
bottom of page