“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” - Pete Carroll
One of life’s biggest mysteries and challenges is to figure out the “key to happiness”. There are many different theories and whole sections of bookstores dedicated to cracking the code. We have all heard the terms; self-improvement, self-actualization, inner peace, personal fulfillment, following your bliss, personal growth…the list goes on and on. We spend so much of our time reading these books and practicing the theories that promise to deliver inner peace and happiness that we overlook the real “keys” to happiness: our Primary Needs.
Well, that is what this book is about!
This book is a guide toward achieving a sustained feeling of happiness and fulfillment. In order to achieve this sustained (the word sustained is key here) level of happiness and fulfillment, one first needs to understand the concept of Primary Needs. Let’s begin by listing the 17 Primary Needs and then understanding the concept of Primary Needs:
There are seventeen Primary Needs, and they are listed in no particular order, though there are some that are more common or more popular than others:
1) To feel safe
2) To feel secure
3) To feel important
4) To feel valued and valuable
5) To feel visible
6) To feel cared for
7) To feel our physicality
8) To feel understood
9) To feel powerful
10) To explore
11) To feel desirable
12) To feel independent
13) To feel sexual
14) To challenge and be challenged
15) To be appreciated
16) To experience mastery
17) To Feel Spiritual
As a human being, we come into the world with an inherent sense of self. This self is a unique repository, or mixture, of our Primary Needs, which are our most important and essential nutrients with regard to our psyche or emotional state. We are not talking about vitamins or minerals, nor are we talking about material needs. We are talking about our emotional and psychological building blocks, our beliefs and our desires that make us who we are.
Primary Needs are innate. We do not go through a conscious process of selecting them for ourselves, and others do not choose them for us. From the full deck of seventeen, we are dealt our individual hand of six to nine Primary Needs. And it is with those cards in hand, so to speak, that we go through life seeking to both express and satiate them so that we may feel whole and filled.
Imagine one of those bath toys that resembles a Ferris wheel with little cups. In order to get the Ferris wheel to spin, you must fill the cups. The more the cups are filled, the better the toy works. None of the cups is ever filled to the exact same level, and the wheel goes faster and slower depending on how well and how evenly those cups are filled. This is how Primary Needs work. Our personal “Ferris wheel” is made up of our Primary Needs, or PIN code. Essentially, each cup represents one of our Primary Needs, and as we go through life, our happiness and fulfillment is determined by whether or not those cups are being filled in a consistent and meaningful way.
Each person has his or her own unique “PIN code”, which is made up of six to nine Primary Needs from that universal list. We do not consciously choose our PIN code like, say, one would choose from a Chinese restaurant menu (one from column A, one from column B, etc.). We are born with this PIN code built within us.
And because as infants we have no way of telling our parents or other important people in our world what our Primary Needs are, they often go unmet or get distorted, causing a lifetime of searching and confusion.
The good news, though, is that our Primary Needs cannot be taken away. They may go unacknowledged and un-nurtured by us and by others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, or lie dormant and unexpressed to the world, but make no mistake, they are always with us, like buried seeds that hold the potential to sprout and emerge from the earth. What’s more, the degree to which we seek to know and fill these Primary Needs will determine whether what emerges from the ground will be beautiful flourishing flowers, or poisonous depleting weeds. The power is within us.
Although our Primary Needs co-exist in synergy with one another, the needs that are the most unfulfilled at any given moment tend to draw the most attention. The challenge we face is becoming our own personal detectives because, unfortunately, our unfulfilled Primary Needs don’t simply tap us on the shoulder and shout, “Hello…I am a need and I am not getting met!” Instead, these unmet needs can reveal themselves in much more confusing and non-direct ways:
· Anger or aggression (the outward manifestation): You might find yourself sabotaging relationships, losing your temper, or having little patience for others, getting into fights, or blaming others for your unhappiness.
· Depression (the inward manifestation): You might become withdrawn, seek to isolate yourself, experience anxiety, or seek to numb yourself with food, drugs or alcohol.
Keep in mind that these are all warning signs, not road maps. In other words, there is detective work involved in not only identifying your PIN Code, but also in detecting which of your needs is not getting met sufficiently.
Our Primary Needs represent the truth of who we are. Simply by living in alignment with them, we gain strength and freedom to fully and powerfully be ourselves, undeterred by the negative influences we encounter in our daily lives. Imagine the inner peace and tranquility that one could attain by being able to know with clarity just what makes them feel fulfilled, and what they need to do to ensure that status. This is why we refer to this process as a straight line to happiness.
In the next few chapters, we will explain each Primary Need in greater detail. While reading about each Primary Need, pay close attention to your reactions and how well you relate to each one. This is one of several ways to be successful on your journey toward unearthing your personal PIN code, as well as the PIN codes of people near and dear to you.