During my time in College Campus Ministry, I was mentored by adult leaders who were not only people of faith, but academics that had thoroughly studied theology. One day, I was venting about stress when a leader suggested that I fulfill my four basic human needs daily to achieve a happier life. The name of the philosopher who originally theorized these keys to happiness escapes me, but below are the four needs and simple ways to fulfill them daily.
Studies have surfaced proving the mental benefits of exercise and how they often surpass the surface level of joy we get from looking slimmer. As infamously said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands.” The benefits of fulfilling your physical need daily go beyond aesthetics to rewards including the enhancement of brain function and overall better mood.
When we become busy we exercise less because we think we don’t have time. In life, we can never have time, but we can make it, and making time for self-care is more important than ever now. Fitting in exercise everyday can be as simple as going for a walk or doing some push-ups at home. So do it, and be amazed by how clear and focused your mind becomes post workout. The long term effects of daily exercise undoubtedly bring happiness.
Humans are not strictly logical beings and our best decisions are made through a combination of emotional and logical reasoning. We are faced with a lot in a day and the brain cannot process everything in the moment it happens. Reflecting on our emotions helps our brains with processing and decision making thus improving our overall mental health.
You don’t need to spend $100 a week on a professional to fulfill your emotional need. Fulfilling this need can be done in the simplest ways from venting to a friend, watching a RomCom or laughing til you cry. Many enjoy journaling before bed and reflecting on what they couldn't process during the day. However you do it, fulfill you emotional need daily to alleviate stress and increase happiness.
There is no limit on education yet many don't pursue learning once they've left school and entered the workplace. Teachers are forced to fulfill their intellectual need, but for those spending 40 hours a week at a desk, the need goes unfulfilled. An article by the Huffington Post titled," Why Learning Leads to Happiness," explains that, "When people are intensely engaged in learning and doing new things, their well being and happiness can blossom."
Reading the newspaper, watching a documentary or listening to a TED Talk are simple ways to fulfill your intellectual need daily. We fulfill our physical need by exercising our bodies while we fulfill our intellectual need by exercising our brains. Befriend people who challenge you and research things you're not interested in. Never stop chasing that sense of accomplishment from learning which breeds happiness. Simply put, when we stop learning we stop living.
Lacking faith is denying yourself a key part of what makes you human. Humans are not solely rational beings, and psychology shows that spiritual people often have positive relationships, high self-esteem, and are optimistic. "Spirituality is linked to many important aspects of human functioning," claims Dr. Ryan T. Howell in "Why Be Spiritual."
I believe in the Holy Trinity as the key to spiritual fulfillment. But I can't bulldoze anyone with Jesus and if you choose a different method of belief, even though I perceive it as a detour, it is better than taking no route. Some worship well known figures like Buddha and Moses while others worship music or nature. Daily ways to fulfill your spiritual need can range anywhere from going to church, and praying to sitting outside and listening to music. When we fulfill our emotional need our brain is healthy and when we fulfill our spiritual need our soul is healthy. Both are essential for happiness.