30+ Human Needs: A Comprehensive List

“You’re so needy!” It’s something that no one wants to be accused of, but the truth of the matter is that every human has needs. Tons of needs. The real issue is not that you have needs, but not being aware of them and not getting them met in healthy ways. The truth is this: you are not needy for having needs.

When you buy a pet, the pet store will provide you with instructions for getting that animal’s needs met. When you order a plant online, you’ll receive a similar set of instructions. Yet, when you have a baby, no one provides you with a list of your baby’s needs and how to meet them. And sadly, no parent that I know of provides their child with such a list as they grow into an adult (See "Lovingly Discipline Your Kids With These 8 Parenting Tools"). In many ways, we are left to our own devices to figure out what we need and how to get it.

You are not needy for having needs.

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Unfortunately, research on human needs is scarce. There are several psychological theories that provide a general understanding of human needs, but beyond that it is still a very subjective field. This lack of objective data may be for the best, however, since every person is going to experience their needs differently. Psychological theories can provide a good starting place, but ultimately it is up to each of us to come to an understanding of our own needs. 

The most popular needs theory was proposed by Abraham Maslow, and it is known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 

I took Maslow’s basic hierarchy, and after examining many different lists of human needs, fleshed it out with the needs that resonated the most with me. I feel like this list captures most of the needs I experience on a regular basis:

COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF HUMAN NEEDS

Physiological

  • Rest - I feel well-rested.
  • Relaxation - I feel calm and peaceful.
  • Food - I feel well-fed.
  • Water - I feel hydrated.
  • Comfort - I feel comfortable.
  • Sex - I feel sexually fulfilled.
  • Physical Activity - I feel invigorated.

Safety

  • Physical Safety - I feel safe from physical danger.
  • Shelter - I feel protected from the elements of nature.
  • Emotional Safety - I feel safe from emotional danger (See "100+ Tactics Used to Control, Manipulate, and Verbally Abuse").
  • Financial Security - I feel confident that I will have enough money to continue meeting my needs.
  • Order/Structure/Familiarity/Consistency/Stability - I feel like my environment is dependable.

Love

  • Belonging/Community/Acceptance/Inclusion - I feel like I fit in and am accepted/wanted.
  • Attraction - I feel attracted to the people around me.
  • Affection - I feel physically close to people.
  • Kindness/Consideration/Compassion - I feel like people consider my needs.
  • Dependability/Trust - I feel like I can trust the people around me.
  • Support - I feel like there are people around to support me.
  • Understanding/Connection - I feel like I understand and know the people closest to me.
  • Openness/Transparency/Authenticity/Empathy/Intimacy - I feel deeply known and understood (See "How Nonviolent Communication Completely Transformed My Relationships").
  • Sexual Connection - I feel sexually connected.

Esteem

  • Recognition/Attention/Esteem/Appreciation - I feel recognized and celebrated for my accomplishments.
  • Respect/Prestige/Status - I feel respected and looked up to.
  • Contribution/Service - I feel like I am making a positive impact.
  • Competence/Achievement/Success/Excellence - I feel like I am succeeding at what I put effort into.
  • Challenge/Growth/Stimulation - I feel challenged by what I’ve been working on recently.

Self-Actualization

  • Purpose/Meaning - I feel like my life has meaning (See "Life After Religion: 9 Core Beliefs That Give My Life Meaning").
  • Novelty/Variety/Adventure/Spontaneity - I feel like I've had new, exciting experiences lately.
  • Play/Joy/Laughter/Pleasure - I feel playful and am enjoying life.
  • Creativity - I feel like I am bringing new ideas to life.
  • Knowledge/Discovery - I feel like I am learning more and more about the world around me (See "10 Proven Steps for Effective Lifelong Learning").
  • Aesthetics/Beauty/Gratitude/Celebration/Presence - I feel appreciative of the beauty around me.
  • Privacy/Space - I feel like I've had an adequate amount of alone time.
  • Self-Connection/Self-Acceptance/Self-Understanding - I feel connected to and accept myself, my needs, and my desires (See "The #1 Roadblock to Being Your Authentic Self").
  • Autonomy/Agency/Independence/Control - I feel like I am in control, like I am free to make my own choices.

Staying in Touch with Your Needs

When our needs are not being met, we may feel sad, frustrated or even angry. The challenge is that we are often unaware of why we feel the way we do. This is where a list like this can come in handy. By evaluating each of your needs, you can pinpoint which needs are responsible for the way you feel. It provides you with a starting point for getting them met.

I personally made this list so that I could evaluate my needs during my weekly goal-setting sessions (See "A Step-by-Step Guide to Goal Setting"). It now helps me make goals that are relevant to my current challenges. I hope you too can find a way to incorporate reviewing your human needs into your life.

Action Item

Evaluate how well each of your needs is currently being met on a scale of 1 to 10. For any need that ranks as less than a 7, write down a goal for yourself to better meet that need. I created this spreadsheet to track my progress over time, and if this looks helpful to you, feel free to make your own copy by clicking here.


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