The recipe for wellbeing

The human givens model clearly defines what it means to be a human being: what we need in order to be healthy (innate needs) and what nature has given us by design to get those needs met (innate resources). These are the ‘human givens’.


With the basic elements of our needs and our resources described like this, a practical framework for wellbeing becomes clear.

Just as a lack of one of our physical needs (such as water or sleep) can make us ill and threaten our life, so a missing element of our emotional needs can cause us emotional difficulties that can lead to mental and physical ill health. Conversely, with all of our needs met in balance we will thrive and flourish.

The implications of these essential principles of human nature are described in the seminal book: Human Givens: The new approach to emotional health and clear thinking.

The Recipe for Wellbeing

The Recipe for Wellbeing

With these core ‘givens’ of human nature (our needs and resources) clearly understood, we can define the fundamental principles of human survival:

  • If our needs are being met well and in balance, we will be thriving and in good emotional health: we cannot be mentally unhealthy
  • When our needs are not well met, we struggle with emotional difficulties and can suffer mental and physical illness
  • The way we use our innate resources to meet our needs determines our physical and emotional health: individually and also within our family, work, cultural and global contexts.
Joe Griffin, co-founder of the human givens approach, explores the barriers to mental health

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