“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” –Abraham Maslow

There are certain basic needs we have for survival. We need water, shelter, food, and clothing.

If you’re reading this now I imagine you have those needs met. (And no the internet is not one of those needs).

But, what about beyond those basic needs? Isn’t there something we need at a much deeper but still fundamental level?

What you may not realize is that we also have basic needs when it comes to living a happy and fulfilling life.

Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as we get our basic needs met, we start to focus on other needs that are more existential in nature.

These needs are belonging, mastery, independence, and contribution.

Read about them below and see how well these needs are being met in your life.


We are social animals. You, I, and everyone else has a need to connect with others and be accepted. Having a support network of friends and family is crucial for our well-being and success.

We can’t go at it alone. We need support, encouragement, appreciation, assistance, and a sense that we are a part of a group or community.

“Hold your true friends with both your hands.” – Nigerian proverb


In living life we need to feel a sense of achievement and mastery in what we do. When we have mastery we feel proud and accomplished. We feel a sense of self-control and self-trust.

A belief emerges that we have what it takes to do what needs to be done in order to reach our goals. Mastery comes through practice and making mistakes, but as it emerges, new possibilities appear and we start to set our sights higher.


This is a feeling of being responsible, or finally growing up and dealing with life. On the other side of the spectrum would dependence where we are relying on others instead of living from our own self-identity.

We want to have emotional intimacy with others, but it is also important to have a clear self-identity that allows us to thrive independent of others. This involvesclarifying and living from our personal values, beliefs, and convictions.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill


This is about giving and sharing of yourself. We all enjoy giving to others and helping them feel happy. There are many ways to contribute. We can contribute time, money, and energy in countless ways to countless different causes.

We can create something that improves peoples’ lives. Or we may contribute by raising healthy and prosocial children. Explore how you can serve and contribute to others and the world around you.

Where do you stand on these four needs? What else would you include as universal needs for happiness and fulfillment?