Body Mind Nest Soul

4 Key Needs All Humans Have

What do you need to survive and thrive as a human? Sometimes we forget that the answer is not the latest car, a bigger house, a better job, or a vacation. People often get caught up in the materialism of our culture and lose sight of their basic human needs. The four human needs all humans need are:

  • Physiological
  • Safety
  • Belonging
  • Purpose

If these needs are not met, humans will not survive and thrive. Some needs are fundamental to existence, including physiological and safety needs. And some safety needs, along with belonging and purpose, allow humans to thrive and live a happy, fulfilled life.

Physiological Needs

There are four physiological needs that scientists agree on for human survival:

  • Food and Water
  • Air
  • Shelter
  • Sleep

Food, water, and air are needed to live. A general rule is the “Rule of 3s,” which states that a person can go:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

Although going without these needs for less than the allotted time can be unpleasant, a person can survive the periods specified. Going without these needs weakens the body and puts stress on the mind, but a lack of food, water, and air are not fatal for short periods.

Shelter and sleep are also physiological needs. Our planet consists of a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions, as well as different terrains. The human body is not designed to withstand extreme environments.

To survive and thrive in these environments, humans need shelter from the elements. Our bodies also need sleep to rest, recharge, and repair themselves. In 1965, a high school student set the world record for staying awake for 11 days (264 hours). Lack of sleep can lead to physical, emotional, and mental health problems.

Safety Needs

Researchers have identified four safety needs, including:

  • Personal
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Social

According to a study in the journal Neural Plasticity, unmet safety needs cause many mental health disorders, including anxiety, phobia, depression, and PTSD. Personal security needs include physical safety in a person’s everyday environment, such as safe neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. Financial safety can be job security or a social safety net like unemployment insurance.

People need to know their health is reasonably safe. Modern appliances and gadgets are tested for safety and carry safety warnings. Health safety also includes access to healthy food, clean water, clean air, and health care.

Social safety is knowing that you can connect with other people over shared needs, likes, and interests. Humans are social animals by nature and not designed to live their lives without human contact.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), loneliness is associated with increased rates of dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety. A study by The University of California Berkley showed that over 60% of American adults identify as being lonely.

Belonging Needs

Beyond the safety need of knowing other people are available to connect with, belonging needs include the need for:

  • Relationships
  • Affiliation
  • Connectedness
  • Group Membership

Humans need more than a passing relationship with other humans. This need begins at birth when we need our parents or caregivers to help us with our physical needs. Once the belonging needs are met for survival, humans also have belonging needs so they can thrive. Humans need relationships ranging from casual to intimate.

We long for and need to feel affiliated and connected with other people and social groups. Group membership provides physical and psychological safety as well.

Purpose Need

Once the first three survival human needs are met, the final human need to thrive is purpose. A life of purpose provides people with meaning and fulfillment.

According to a study by the University of California San Diego, having a sense of purpose improves physical and mental health. Purpose gives a person joy, inspires a sense of gratitude, and helps connect people on a deeper emotional level.

Are you meeting the four human needs that all humans need? If not, it’s time to examine your life, meet your needs, and find purpose and joy.


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