Our Needs for Happiness – Short Version

Our Needs for Happiness – Summary of what we need to make us happy. Read Post #22 for detailed explanations of these needs.

Emotional Needs Affect Our Happiness

We inherently know what we need. But, like colors, we must learn to identify them. We must also learn how to get our needs met and how to behave when we don’t get them.

Parents are the primary suppliers and teachers of our needs. If they were adequate providers and teachers, we grow to feel adequate. Parents who failed to fulfill their children’s needs leave their children feeling inadequate and needless.

While our physical needs sustain our lives, our emotional needs nourish our elements of happiness. In addition, we learn how valuable, acceptable, and loveable we are by how well our needs were met.

20 Emotional Needs Common To All of Us

Just like our need for food and water varies, so does what we need for our emotional health. I’ve identified 20 emotional needs common to all of us. A quick explanation of each need follows.

Safety and Security

Safety and security are the basis for trust. When we feel safe and secure, we are free to pursue and explore. Safety and security allow us to get out of our nature.


Touch has healing power. It brings about good health and good emotions. Touch is the first sensory system to mature. Hugs are an especially helpful form of touch. Researchers advise that we should get 4-12 hugs per day.


If we don’t get attention, we won’t get our physical needs met. As infants, a lack of attention is a matter of life or death. This induction of fear locks us into survival mode and we will behave like everything is a crisis.

Too much attention makes us too important and we become self-centered. Too little attention makes us unimportant and we become self-oriented. We need the right amount and the right kind of attention.


Acceptance is necessary for autonomy. And, autonomy leads to freedom of choice and accountability.


Support requires action. Sometimes we need someone to pick us up when we fall or fail so we can move towards success. Support allows us to develop empathy for others.

To be Nurtured

Nurtured is not synonymous with coddling. When we are nurtured we our trained and our abilities, skills, and talents are developed. This encouragement for growth requires pruning and curtailing which can be painful but makes us more fruitful.

To be Listened To

When we are not listened to, we get the message we aren’t worth people’s time and attention. We need to be listened to so we can be valued, better guided, and better adjusted. It helps us learn how to regulate our emotions which allows us to make better decisions.


Many people resist discipline because they associate it with restriction, deprivation, and punishment. Discipline is synonymous with self-control. We learn self-control by doing critical thinking.

Discipline means trained or learned by instruction or correction. Discipline leads to freedom from fear, shame, and guilt. It cultivates respect.


Guidance heads us in the right direction. There is no map for us to follow in our lives. Therefore, we need direction from those who have more knowledge and are wiser. Guidance directs us to success.

To Accomplish

Accomplishment gives us a sense of self-satisfaction. It allows us to receive good feedback. When we work to accomplish something, we learn to ask for help, learn how to succeed, and learn how to fail. We become a productive member of the group.


Humor consists of laughter. Research has proven laughter contributes to good physical and mental health.

To Play and Have Fun

Playing and having fun is what kids do. But, it shouldn’t stop in childhood. Playing and having fun relaxes our bodies and minds, and teaches cooperation. It teaches us how to win and lose.

The Ability to Grieve

The grief process is miserable and occurs when we lose. We are not wired to lose. So, we don’t like to talk about it. Therefore, we aren’t taught how to lose but expected to handle it well when it happens.

Our first experience with grief occurs when we are told, “No.” When children don’t get what they want, they lose out and go through the phases of grief. These minor losses teach them how to manage disappointment instead of fearing it. Grief builds integrity.


“The truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV) We need to know the truth and to be truthful so we are free to be ourselves in Christ. The truth maintains our humility, reality, and honesty. These are important for us to have inner peace and maintain strong relationships.


Loyalty means we can count on someone to have our back and vice versa. It sets up devotion and commitment.


Freedom is the basis for independence. It allows us to grow and prosper.


Privacy gives us the opportunity to renew our minds. We meditate and converse with God in private. Privacy prevents us from being boastful.


When we are grateful, we realize how much good we have and we are happier. Gratitude towards others gives them honor.


Spirituality takes us out of our nature. It makes us more mindful and gives us hope. It is necessary for us to be happy.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is the kind of love everyone needs and wants. But, many times the love we get is conditional. Relationships based on the “If….then…” principle, people who hold grudges, and people who mistreat us are conditional lovers. Imagine if God loved this way. What would your life look like?

God Fulfills Our Needs

God gives us what we need to be happy. Therefore, when someone lets us down by not fulfilling our emotional needs, we just need to ask God. We must give Him attention, listen to Him, and be grateful. Then, He will fill us with all we need.

Needs For Happiness Summary: