So often people blame events for how their lives have turned out.
Yet what really shapes our lives is the meaning we attach to events.
~ Tony Robbins
We went out to eat the other day, and was served by a bright-eyed, cheerful young lady who took the time to speak directly to us, ask us about our day AND keep our iced teas filled. "She's going places," my wife quipped. As she brought us the bill she thanked us for looking her in the eye while speaking to her, "So many customers nowadays won't even do that!" We left a 50% tip.
Attempting to connect motivation, values, goals and needs to better understand myself and others is a daunting task insofar as not only are they all separate entities, they seemingly feed into each other from a myriad of directions, making their interoperatbility a single cohesive unit.
Wikipedia defines the four as follows:
Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal directed behaviors.
Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes.
A goal is an objective, or a projected computation of affairs, that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve.
To most psychologists, need is a psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a goal, giving purpose and direction to behavior.
So once again we're going to tread the waters of actions and behavior. Color me unsurprised. As we've previously discussed how values and behavior are connected we'll now assume motivation is the the trigger for need and explore how behavior reflects it.
When I think of needs I immediately visualize Masolw's pyramid. And more recently Tony Robbins' "Six Human Needs" This is brought into play because...
The main benefit of knowing your values is that you will gain tremendous clarity and focus, but ultimately you must use that newfound clarity to make consistent decisions and take committed action.
Consciously knowing and living by our values is extremely important. Values act as our compass to put us back on course every single day, so that day after day, we're moving in the direction that takes us closer and closer to our definition of the "best" life we could possibly live. The "best" is your own ideal, but generally as you get closer to this ideal, you'll enjoy increasingly positive shades of "better" even if you never reach "best." And this makes sense because many results in life exist on a continuum. There are some discrete entities like being married or not married, but your health, financial status, relationship intimacy, and level of happiness are generally continuous, meaning that they can gradually get better or worse. It seems reasonable that more health, happiness, wealth, intimacy, inner peace, love, etc. is better than less.*
Our needs are what we are pursuing by way of our decisions. Whatever our needs are at any given time, our values will shift to accommodate them and our behavior will immediately reflect to achieve it. Ergo, the future we desire!
Knowing - identifying exactly - our needs, suddenly becomes more than just an esoteric pastime. They are fundamental to not only our every day lives (as reflected in our behavior), but also to our very future, to which is tied health, happiness, wealth, intimacy, inner peace, love, etc. That is a veritable laundry list of positive items that can result from just one question. What are our needs?
Mr. Robbins separated human needs into two areas which he called "Personality Needs" and "Needs of the Spirit" which I think deserve a second look given they might help us define our future and positively modify our behavior to obtain it. For this entry, we'll focus only on the first four personality needs, linking to four different sources at an attempt at well-roundedness...
We want to feel safe, avoid pain, and feel comfortable in our environment and our relationships. Every individual needs to have some sense of certainty and security. Even though some certainty is necessary to all of us, what constitutes certainty varies from individual to individual. Code words for certainty are comfort, security, safety, stability, feeling grounded, predictability and protection.* If people have a high reliance on the human need to feel certain in life it can inhibit a truly happy life because an important part of meeting the needs of the spirit involves being able to feel uncertain, since a large part of growth relies around the ability to go outside oneself and to push boundaries.*
If you get too much certainty in your life you become bored and your life becomes monotonous. Many people have this challenge so they crave variety or uncertainty in their life. It can also be described as surprise, difference, diversity, challenge or excitement* for variety and challenges that will exercise our emotional and physical range. Everyone needs some variety in life. Our bodies, our minds, our emotional well being all require uncertainty, exercise, suspense, surprise.
A sense of being needed or having a purpose, uniqueness or the need to feel important. "There's a healthy way to pursue both [significance and variety]," Robbins says, "and an unbalanced way: When you buy a yacht for significance, there is always going to be someone with another, nicer yacht. How long can that significance last? When the desire for significance or certainty is driving you, you're going to be unhappy," he said. "You have to switch your priority to growth or love. Those are better leads."*
The fourth and final need to fulfill for everyone walking the planet is the need for love and or connection. A lot of the time people settle for the feeling or connection because love requires the ability to be able to grow and contribute to someone or something outside yourself. [If we don't love selflessly] it is hard to experience love which can only come when someone else’s needs are put before their own (which paradoxically is the easiest way to fulfill our deepest needs). Adults tend to find it easier to experience love from family members and their children than with an intimate partner because with family and children there is a sense (illusionary) of certainty that they will never leave them.*
While we all probably understand these things at different levels, what seems apparent is that pursing or meeting solely our personality needs will lead to attachment and suffering at one end, and mediocrity at the other. Yes we need these things to survive, but I would argue there's a chasm between those who seek survival, and those who seek to live.