A modern list of 6 human needs as shared by Neuroscientist Nicole Gravagna
This list benefits from nearly 75 years of psychology, neuroscience, and sociology research beyond what was known when Maslow wrote his list.
- Food – The body needs calories and a variety of nutrients including protein, fat, and carbohydrates everyday to grow, function, and repair. Without food, the body begins to atrophy.
- Water – Ample hydration allows for the processes of the body to occur. Without water the body cannot process food or remove wastes.
- Shelter – We require protection from blazing sun, freezing temperatures, wind, and rain. Without shelter, human skin and organs are damaged from extreme temperatures.
- Sleep – 6–9 hours of sleep every 24 hours allows the brain to process new knowledge and deal with emotional information. Without ample sleep we cannot learn new things or get past emotional pain.
- Others – Adults require connection (physical or emotional) with other humans to release certain hormones like oxytocin. Human touch is so important that when we are young, our brains don’t develop correctly without it. Regular connection to others allows us to maintain a sense of well-being that allows for self-care.
- Novelty – Novelty creates the opportunity to learn and the potential to fail, which stimulates dopamine release in the brain. Without regular novelty, motivation wanes and a healthy sense of well-being is lost.
These 6 needs, when met, allow for a person to develop the self-esteem, security, belonging, actualization, and the other expressions of contentedness that Maslow described.
Unfortunately, when people go for a long time without having all 6 of these needs met, it becomes difficult for them to begin to allow for these needs to be met. A person who doesn’t get enough sleep will insist that they can do without. A person who has grown up without deep connection to others will insist that they prefer to live as a loner. Those who have deeply rutted routines will resist change when it is offered to them.
It’s as though humans have a natural protective process that occurs when one of these 6 needs goes unfulfilled. We develop beliefs that we are special, somehow more capable than everyone else, because we can get along without having our needs fulfilled. The truth is that we are often in denial. Every single person on this planet needs food, water, shelter, sleep, others, and novelty on a regular basis to be their best selves.