What are the six human needs? How can you apply these needs to finances?
According to Tony Robbins in Money: Master the Game, there are six human needs we’re trying to fulfill: security, variety, closeness, meaning, participation, and progress. Each of these needs is important to understand because money has a say in how we achieve these needs.
Let’s explore how money affects these needs and compare them to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The Six Human Needs
To succeed at investing, you need to change how you feel about money—in other words, your emotional and physiological state. As Robbins explains, we don’t really want money. We want how we think it’ll make us feel—whether that’s powerful, secure, happy, or relieved.
What are the six human needs that we’re trying to fulfill? To get clear on how you feel about money, consider which of the following six you’re trying to fulfill:
Need #1: Security—feeling safe and certain about your circumstances or future. We need this to feel grounded and capable of taking risks.
Need #2: Variety—surprises and unpredictability keep life exciting and enjoyable. If everything was certain ahead of time, life would get dull—imagine if you knew everything everyone was going to say before they said it.
Need #3: Closeness—as social creatures, we all need to feel close and connected to friends and loved ones.
Need #4: Meaning—we need to feel important, especially to those we care about. When we matter, life feels more meaningful.
- Robbins cautions against trying to fulfill Need #4 by amassing wealth. Remember that money is a tool, not the end goal. Your money won’t give you meaning—but using it to live a passionate life will.
Need #5: Participation—when our basic needs are met, we look for spiritual fulfillment. According to Robbins, we can do this by giving our time, energy, and resources to causes larger than ourselves. For example, committing your time and/or money to ending homelessness is a higher-order spiritual calling that could bring you fulfillment.
Need #6: Progress—we’re meant to keep developing as life unfolds. Neglecting to grow feels like what it is—stagnation.
Further, rather than pursuing money to fill any of these six human needs, Robbins recommends starting from abundance and gratitude. If you practice gratitude daily, it will reconfigure how you think and feel so that you approach life with openness and joy. The more you do this, the more serendipity will come along to guide you to what you seek.
This is the real secret of wealth, Robbins explains: The more you give, the richer your life becomes. Giving brings you connection and meaningful experiences, and it improves the lives of the larger human community. The more you spread the love, the more it comes back around to you.
(Shortform note: You must start with your mindset—state and story— before fulfilling the six human needs because everything you do cascades from what and how you think. If you start from a mindset of poverty or scarcity, you’ll act accordingly: fearing loss, acting stingy, and living under constant money stress. Even wealthy people can have a poverty mindset and thus feel poor. On the other hand, genuinely poor people can live from an abundance mindset and find joy in giving and living well, even with little money to go around.)
Robbins’ Core Needs and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Robbins explains that he derived the six human needs above from years of coaching and observing his clients. His model also reflects psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which explains human needs in five levels.
- Maslow’s Physiological + Safety needs → Robbins’ security (basic health, finances)
- Maslow’s Social needs → Robbins’ closeness and variety
- Maslow’s Esteem needs → Robbins’ meaning
- Maslow’s Self-Actualization needs → Robbins’ participation and progress
Also like Maslow, Robbins separates his six needs into two classes: The basic needs (security, variety, closeness) and higher needs (meaning, participation, progress). Maslow called the lower levels “deficiency needs” and higher levels “growth needs.”