top of page

Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

BREAK the Habit of Just Surviving

We have real and legitimate needs, but too often we focus on our wants and sacrifice our needs.

Our legitimate needs are best understood in relation to each of the four aspects of the human person—physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. These needs exist not only in these different areas, but also on different levels.

There are some things we need simply to survive. We call these primary needs, and this category includes the fundamentals that are necessary to sustain human life. Examples of primary needs would be food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. Without these primary legitimate needs, our lives would very quickly be brought to a grinding halt. Our primary needs are fundamental to our existence. We need them just to survive.

But life is not just about surviving, it’s about thriving, about becoming the-best-versions-of-ourselves.

Our secondary needs are not critical to our survival. We can survive without them for years in many cases. But they are essential if we are going to thrive in any (or all) of the four aspects of our lives. When our secondary needs are being fulfilled, we begin to blossom and bloom as human beings. The satisfaction of our secondary needs allows us to achieve and maintain optimum health and well-being. Among them would be needs such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and healthy relationships.

Every day we attend to our primary needs—those things necessary merely to sustain our existence. In many cases we do this without even thinking about it. You don’t have to remind yourself to breathe, you just breathe. You have made a habit of breathing. You do it now by instinct. Similarly, you eat and drink several times a day. You probably don’t have to think too much about it. Eating and drinking have also become a habit for you. You are in the habit of surviving. You take care of your primary needs, because you have to.

On the other hand, we often neglect our secondary needs, either because we are too busy or too lazy or we simply don’t consider them urgent.

The question is, are you satisfied being in the habit of surviving, or are you ready to get into the habit of thriving?

For a moment, think about each of the four areas: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Which are you thriving in and which are you just surviving in?

Our secondary needs are the key to thriving. They may not seem urgent in light of the 105 things you have on your to-do list today, but they are probably more important than anything on that list.

The first step in our quest to become the-best-version-of-ourselves is to define our legitimate needs. The second step is to create a lifestyle that fulfills those legitimate needs.

We all have legitimate needs. The fulfillment of these needs is one of the very practical ways we can learn to embrace our essential purpose. If we are wise enough to seek their counsel, our legitimate needs will advise us what is necessary to maintain health of body, heart, mind, and spirit.

Matthew Kelly

Watch the video!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page