What do we, as humans, want from life? Even though we all come from different backgrounds, have different life experiences, and live different realities, I believe we all want the same 3 basic things from life.
1.Acceptance. All of us, young, old, and everything in between, need to feel accepted by other humans. In an experiment conducted in 1958, researcher Solomon Asch concluded, ” The tendency to conformity in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black.” (You can read more on this experiment here.) We all want to belong…to something. We are social creatures who need interaction with other like-minded people.
2. Love. Why do you think there are so many songs written about love? Because it is a driving force of our interactions with one another. I’m not talking about sex (that is a horse of a different color). The feeling that another person has deep, meaningful and strong emotional ties to you can make all the wrongs in the world seem of no consequence. There are so many levels of love that one human can feel: everything from love of a parent to love of a best friend. What matters is that you have a deep, meaningful connection with another person.
3. To have purpose. What is life if you are just drifting through it without a reason? All humans need to feel like they have something to contribute to the good of the world. There is a reason we do what we do. Victor Frankl, who was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, said humans are, “characterised by an innate drive to find meaning and significance in their lives, and that failure to achieve meaning results in psychological distress.” (See more here). This desire of a purpose is also why so many people of retirement age find it so difficult to give up a career. Until they see a new purpose in life, they struggle to identify a reason to get up every day.
Feeling accepted, loved, and having a purpose can lead to a happy fulfilling life. If we work on obtaining these three things, I believe the other goodnessness (yes, I made up that word because it fit!) of life: success, pleasure, respect, and yes, happiness, will follow as a result.