From what we know of the universe, by far, planet earth is the best place to be in. There may be other places but without any concrete proof, it is no better than any of the dreams we have. While planet earth started as a great place for all creatures, it is now safe to say that being human gives you the best chance to enjoy the pleasures of this world.
If you are reading this, it can be fairly certain that you are one of the most privileged bunch to have lived on this planet. Still, I bet it doesn’t feel like it, at least not as often as it should. Our sense of happiness is no way proportional to our current privileges and the state of wellbeing. If it were, why would we be told to consciously develop the gratitude habit of remembering things we are grateful for? Why is it not natural to us? The fact remains that a large number of us struggle from time to time with a sense of discontentment even when we have probably the best lives we can get. So, why is it that we have this discontentment? Why it seems like we can never ever get satisfied? If so, what are we really after in this world? What do we really want? What will make us really happy? Is there an end goal to all this? These are some of the most important set of questions that comes to mind from time to time.
Not everybody gets such questions and it is totally fine. In fact, a majority of us are least bothered about such questions because there are so many things to ‘do’ for them. If a person is happily busy with the ways of working of life then why would he question anything about it? Only those of us who are less happy with their lives or with the things around them then they seek out for a better understanding of the world. You can argue that people who don’t ask such questions are ‘less evolved’ but the fact is that they are perfectly happy with their lives and that’s what matters. Each one of us have our own questions and need to find our own answers. So if you are one of those who have these questions, then hopefully you might find an interesting perspective here.
First, what these questions are doing is to confront us to better understand our own selves first i.e. to go to the roots of your fundamental needs and then understand how you are going about meeting those needs. So, the next question is how do you go about doing that? Humans are the most complex creatures and each human is a unique masterpiece but deep down we all have same basic needs. Without such a basic commonality, I don’t think we would have been able to develop this far.
When I started on this path, I was glad that I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel on this as many have already built well-accepted theories and hypothesis on what motivates humans and I just have to understand and use them. As a part of this, I reviewed a number of them but found that the theories like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Determination Theory and Existence, Relatedness and Growth (ERG) theory explained our needs fairly well. However, even after understanding these theories, I strongly felt that something is missing. The theories did not answer questions like why some people crave for money while others for love? some for fame and others for sacrifice? why do we crave for tasty food? why are we so emotional and is there anything behind all our emotional needs?
The answers provided by existing theories were flawed and superficial to me. I also found gaping holes in them. For example, most theories did not even consider things we do for pleasure as an important need. So, I started analysing my own life & the world around me to answer some of these questions. This process started over a decade back and during this period my understanding evolved and so did my answers. This eventually led me to build my own theory which I call the fundamental needs theory.
Rather than improving existing theories, I had to build my own because the needs that I thought of were broader and more generic than those defined by existing theories. So naturally, they could not be fit into other theories. My biggest realisation was that the existing theories looked at our motivators based on the needs that are obvious to us but were, in fact, lower level manifestations of our most basic or fundamental needs.
But why should you spend effort in knowing these basic needs? Well, only if you want to see a different perspective of life to hopefully gain a better understanding of your needs and the choices you make. The needs that I have defined are so fundamental that every action we take, all major and minor choices we make are driven to meet one or more of these fundamental needs. This applies to every human being – rich or poor, old or young, male or female, almost without exception. Sure, your own personality and upbringing might make you perceive one need higher than the other and hence choose to engage in activities accordingly but you cannot ignore any of them.
This means that a better understanding of your fundamental needs will give you a new perspective on your choices & activities you are engaging in and then modify them for the better. This website is an attempt in that direction where I will explain the theory, its impact & the ideal way of living for a happier life and I would be grateful if you can share your thoughts. In the next article, let us look at the first of the four fundamental needs that we have.