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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Heake

Cracking the Happiness Code: 6 Surprising Reasons You're Not as Happy as You Should Be

Have you ever wondered why, despite having all the trappings of a successful life, you still find yourself feeling unfulfilled and searching for more?

You're not alone.

In our modern world of convenience and abundance, it can be puzzling to understand why we sometimes feel unhappy, discontent, or simply not quite satisfied. The key to unlocking true happiness may lie in a deeper understanding of our most basic desires and how they continue to shape our lives in unexpected ways.

As a therapist in private practice, I've seen firsthand how recognizing and addressing these fundamental needs can lead to profound improvements in well-being and overall satisfaction. So, let's embark on a journey of self-discovery, exploring the importance of self-awareness around primal needs and unearthing the hidden forces that drive our quest for happiness in the 21st century.


The Primal Blueprint:

Before we dive into the challenges, let's familiarize ourselves with the six primal needs that have shaped human behavior since our ancestors roamed the earth:

1. Safety: We crave physical security and protection from harm.

2. Food: A consistent source of sustenance is essential for survival.

3. Social Connection: Humans are social creatures who seek companionship and emotional bonds.

4. Power: We desire autonomy, influence, and control over our environment.

5. Reproduction: This goes beyond procreation; it encompasses our drive for intimacy, partnership, and leaving a legacy.

6. Curiosity: Our innate need for learning, exploration, and growth.

These fundamental drivers continue to influence our lives, often in surprising ways. By becoming more attuned to our primal needs, we can make better decisions and enjoy a more fulfilling existence.


Now, let's examine the unexpected problems our primal needs create in the modern world, and explore practical ways to resolve them.

1. Safety vs. Risk Aversion

Our innate need for safety can manifest in excessive caution, leading us to avoid new experiences and hinder personal growth. To overcome this, challenge yourself by trying new activities, traveling, or embracing change. Practice calculated risk-taking to build confidence and resilience.

2. Food and Overeating:

Our ancestors relied on calorie-dense foods for survival, but today, this can result in overeating and weight gain. Prioritize whole, nutritious foods, practice mindful eating, and address emotional eating triggers. Seek support from professionals, friends, or support groups if needed.

3. Social Connection and Loneliness:

Despite the prevalence of social media, our fundamental desire for deep connections can leave us feeling isolated. Cultivate meaningful relationships by engaging in shared activities, volunteering, or joining clubs. Limit screen time and prioritize face-to-face interactions.

4. Power and Work-Life Balance:

The pursuit of power and control in our modern world can lead to workaholism, burnout, and strained relationships. Set boundaries, delegate tasks, and prioritize self-care. Create a support network to help manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

5. Intimacy and Relationship Struggles:

Our reproductive drive can manifest in an overemphasis on physical attractiveness, leading to unrealistic expectations in relationships. Communicate openly, practice empathy, and focus on compatibility rather than superficial traits. Recognize that partnership involves more than just physical appearance.

6. Curiosity and Information Overload:

Our need for exploration and growth can result in endless scrolling, information consumption, and mental fatigue. Set limits on screen time, engage in focused learning, and pursue hobbies that encourage personal growth. Prioritize quality information sources and take breaks from digital devices.


Understanding our primal needs can provide a valuable roadmap for navigating the complexities of modern life. By recognizing the unexpected problems these needs can create, and employing practical solutions, we can adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st century. Embrace your primal nature, and use this newfound self-awareness to create a happier, more fulfilling existence.

If you found this helpful, please subscribe to the blog. It helps me a lot and hopefully you too! If you have any questions or comments, please share or get in touch. Warmly, Matthew

Therapist, father, and tech analyst writing about the intersection of technology and mental health, parenting, evolutionary psychology, and more.

8 views2 comments


Jack Brittain
Jack Brittain
Apr 25, 2023

Great advice! I'm currently putting a lot of work into the first item of the list.

Matthew Heake
Matthew Heake
Jun 28, 2023
Replying to

Apologies - I’m just now getting a workflow to keep up with things, including replying to any kind friends and folks who comment.

Checking in - how’s the progress on item one going?

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