People often stop and ask me some version of the question “What does it take to get rich and happy instantly with no effort?” They think I’ll have some easy answer. Of course, that is not the case.
However, I do want to tell you what I really believe it does take to be rich and happy. Now most people think “rich” is just money. But I know a lot of people who have a lot of money and they’re broke. I know a lot of people who have a lot of money and they’re very rich. That richness is a sense of fulfillment.
See, while some people have supposedly “succeeded” on the outside, they’re not fulfilled. And I’m here to tell you that success without fulfillment is failure.
So how do you make sure you’re really fulfilled? It seems such an illusive thing for most people. They think, “If I succeed, I’ll be fulfilled”. Then they succeed, yet they’re still not fulfilled. Or they have a great relationship, but they’re still not fulfilled. People are always looking for something more.
We all have six needs that must be met. All human beings have them. We all have different goals, different desires, different ways of trying to make ourselves feel good. Yet deep down, we all have the same six needs.
And the first need that everybody has is the need for certainty.
We all have a need for absolute certainty because it is a survival mechanism. You have to have a certain amount of certainty to function.
Have you ever been in the place where you had so much uncertainty in your life, it overwhelmed you? Perhaps uncertainty about your job or your career
or about a relationship. Did it make you crazy inside? Now you can see why certainty is a basic need.
It doesn’t matter what country, what culture, what language a person speaks, or what his or her socioeconomic background is, everyone needs a base level of certainty. It’s a human need. Not a desire, it’s a need. It’s built into the human nervous system. But we all go about getting it differently. Some people try to get certainty by having a routine that’s the same every day. Some people try to get certainty by surrounding themselves with people they believe they are smarter than. That way they feel like they’re always in control. Some people get certainty by their faith. They get certainty by trusting that they’re guided.
Now, look at the way you’re getting this need met — is it empowering you or disempowering you? If you’re using drugs or alcohol to get certainty to be comfortable, it obviously has many, many negative side effects. If you’re using faith, it’s an empowering certainty. If you’re using your sense of identity, it’s like saying, “I’m certain, not because everything around me is perfect, but I’m certain because I’ve always found a way”. Find an empowering way to embrace certainty.
So while we want certainty, when we get absolute certainty, we go crazy. And that’s because God has a sense of humor and gave us a second need, the need for uncertainty
just to make things fun.
We have a need for certainty, but we simultaneously have a need for uncertainty. We have a need for variety. A need for surprise. A need for the unexpected. Why? It creates excitement for us. If you know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen, life becomes boring and predictable. You must have some surprises in your life. You’ve got to have those situations that make us grow. And that growth is what makes us feel happy inside.
Why do people go to movies? Because it gives them certainty and
uncertainty. They know they will have a good time, and they can vicariously experience all this adventure and surprise within that film.
Have you ever rented a video you’ve already seen? Why would you do that? Because you’re certain it’s good, and you’re hoping you forgot enough that there’ll be some variety. So there’s the paradox. Certainty and uncertainty. They seem to be antithesis of one another and yet, as a human being, we need to have both of them to feel good.
The third human need we all have is the need for significance.
It’s a need for a feeling that your life is significant, important, and special. That your life has a purpose. We all have the need to feel significant, unique, to feel like our life has some kind of meaning.
Now, what’s interesting is how you go about getting that significance for your life. You can go about it by tearing everybody else down, essentially saying, “I’m great because you’re not”. There’s two ways to have the tallest building in town: to tear down everybody else’s building, or to work harder and build a better building. Work like crazy. And while everybody else takes lunch, you go for it.
You can also do it in neutral ways. Perhaps dressing uniquely. Or by having skills no one else has. You could do it by buying more toys, cars, homes or possessions. You could do it by getting more degrees. Every one of us finds a way, because we have to feel significant. Everybody has this need. The only question is how do you go about getting it met.
Now, it’s best to reach significance in very positive ways. By having more compassion and giving more than anybody else. If you’re willing to give more and you’re honest and real, that makes you feel special.
So you’ve got to find a way to be unique. How do you do it? At home, you can do it through achieving. Or by the kind of love that you share. Or by doing something with people that makes them feel better.
The problem is, to feel significant and unique, you think you have to be different than everyone. That line of thought violates the fourth human need, the need for connection and love.
I have so many clients who are super achievers — actors, actresses, CEOs, professional athletes — who strived their whole lives to be unique. Now they have their uniqueness, but no connection because they feel everybody’s trying to get something from them.
This happens in people’s intimate relationships as well. Someone says, “I really want to be at one with this person.” And then they start feeling at one with the person and love them for a while. Then their thinking shifts to, “Now I feel totally loved and connected, but who am I? How am I unique in this world?” That’s when they pull back from the relationship because they’re trying to meet two needs simultaneously.
Well, you can have connection by simply loving people. You can have connection by way of being in nature or a connection to God through prayer. Or you can have connection by looking at a piece of art and feeling this sense of inspiration. You can have it through a pet. There’s so many ways to get it. You’re going to find a way.
If you meet the need for certainty and uncertainty as well as significance and connection, those are called the fundamental needs. But you won’t be rich, happy, and fulfilled unless you meet the last two. But let me be honest, very few people meet these final two needs. These two are the real secret. Your fifth need is that you must grow.
And number six is you must contribute beyond yourself in a meaningful way.
See, you can get certainty by controlling everybody. You can get variety by partying. You can get significance by tearing other people down. You can have connection by having a problem that makes people pay attention to you. But none of those make you a better person.
The only way you’re going to be fulfilled is if you choose ways of meeting your needs that cause you to grow. No matter how much you earn or how many people think you’re great, if you don’t feel like you’re growing, you’ll feel like you’re going backwards. Retreating. For those whose lives have true meaning, they are contributing beyond themselves.
Through my years, I’ve met so many people who have such great skills, yet they’re still unhappy. What controls these needs are your beliefs and your values. There are certain beliefs you may have that may not be serving your best interests. Yet you keep doing them in order to meet some of your needs. Now it’s time to grow. It’s time to go beyond ourselves.
So unless we understand what our brain is doing, most of us have no idea how to win the game of life. We don’t know what the target of the game is. We don’t know the goal. And so it’s pretty hard to win a game when we don’t know what the goal is. But now, YOU do. Chart a path to fulfill need five, personal growth, and need number six, contributing beyond yourself.