Variety and Spice or Security and Comfort?

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2015/05/20


Have you ever noticed a tendency in yourself to gravitate to either wanting loads of variety OR feeling like you want things to stay the same? Do you get terribly bored with routine, or feel really resistant to change? Or are you somewhere in the middle with wanting some variety and some ‘sameness’?

I was fascinated a few years ago to discover the concept of the Six Core Human Needs. There are 6 needs that every human on earth will encounter, in varying degrees. They can be represented something like this:

Level 3: Growth <===============================================> Contribution

Level 2: Significance <========================================>Love/Connection

Level 1:  Security/Comfort <=================================> Variety/Spice

You might notice that each level work in opposites. As we gain more security and comfort, there will be less variety and spice. As we grow in significance, we may feel less connected because when we ‘stand out’, others may feel jealous or try to bring us down. In the same way, when we focus on our OWN growth, we may feel like we’re contributing less, or vice versa – contribute more, and it may feel like I am not focusing on my own growth.

Each of us needs these 6 elements in varying degrees. I might need a lot of variety and spice, while a friend might need more security and comfort. Each of us is unique – and it’s neither good nor bad to need the level of significance or growth that we do.

I have a colleague who’s been happy to work from the same office for 10 years. She’s lived in the same house for 30 years, and has been doing more or less the same work for at least 12.

In contrast, during the last 30 years, I’ve lived in 7 houses and have worked from countless offices. For a while I was a consultant and every week sometimes brought a different client, accounting system and office. I’ve chosen 4 major career changes in the past 25 years. First music, then computer programming, then Practitioner and Trainer, then author… and even within ‘Practitioner and Trainer’ I’ve trained in and practiced at least 10 different methods and techniques.

My colleague’s way works for her. She loves her life!

My way works for me. I love my life!

Let me be honest. It wasn’t always like that!

I took me many years to make peace with the fact that I tend to need a boatload of variety and spice. I judged myself and this constant need to learn another technique, do something new, and find my feet again.

“Why can other people be happy with one career their entire life, and not me? What’s wrong with me? Why do I get ants in my pants so often?”

Does any of that sound familiar?

“Why” is often not an empowering question. The brain tends to bring us answers to whatever questions we ask… and when it’s a ‘judgy’ question, I promise you it’ll find a ‘judgy’ answer, too.

I found this information about the 6 Core Human Needs through my research when I was writing No Problem. The Upside of Saying No., It opened a new world for me.

“YES!! I DO need more variety and spice than some people in my world. And – it’s totally okay. There’s nothing flawed about that, nothing wrong.”

Then, around 2 years ago, a dear friend of mine embarked on a new journey where she learned about the Gallup Strengthsfinder, and the 34 Strengths that each of us has in a pretty unique order. It’s a system based in Positive Psychology, where we look at what’s ‘right’ with us, instead of what’s ‘wrong’ with us.

It’s a Strength!

I loved finding out what my top Strengths are… and guess what? Out of all the possible 34 Strengths, “Learning” is second from the top for me. It’s a STRENGTH, hallelujah, to be able to learn different systems, facts, information – not a weakness. In fact, says my report:

“Based on the understanding of the learning process in yourself and others, you can establish ingenious programs and services to help others become better learners, high achievers, and be better prepared for the future.”

It even encouraged me to do more of it: “As far as possible, shift your career toward a field with constantly changing technologies or regulations. You will be energized by the challenge of keeping up. Be a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new rules, new skills, or new circumstances. Your willingness to soak up this “newness” can calm their fears and spur them to engage. Take this responsibility seriously.”

Finally, I was able to put down the guilt about having this seemingly insatiable thirst for learning.

Where are you on this scale?

Do you tend more to the variety and spice, or the security and comfort side? Is that okay with you? Or are you judging yourself for being a certain way? Or perhaps judging someone else for their needs? (Don’t worry, we all do this. We tend to see what’s normal for us as ‘the right way’ and therefore, someone else is ‘wrong’ for doing it their way.)

Of course, how much we need of each can change as we go through experiences in life. If we’ve just had a period of upheaval, we might like to settle into some comfort in one place for a while. And if we find our need gets dysfunctional, we might want to look at what’s behind that, and whether we need to change something in ourselves.

A Next Phase

My need for variety and spice and the ‘Learner’ Strength have spoken up again recently, as you might guess! Two additions are coming up soon.

I’ll be able to offer you the gift of getting to know, LOVE and work with your Top 5 Strengths after I complete the Level 1 course in June. I’ve also made the choice to work with women who have a successful career yet feel like they dislike or hate it. (Boy, have I been on that journey a few times!!)

We’ll go on a playful and magical carpet ride to figure out what brings them joy, discover their brilliant uniqueness and strengths, and make some decisions on the way so they can bring about a meaningful, fulfilling career and love Mondays again. I’ll offer loads of support – emotional, practical and spiritual. Really juicy stuff.

Are you in a stuck place career wise?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what’s going on for you. Maybe it’s just one aspect of your work, or perhaps the environment? Maybe you’re not able to use your full potential? Are you being overlooked? What’s most frustrating for you right now?

Join the conversation in the comments below the article!
photo credit: lunch for twelve via photopin (license)


Want to become an Insider? Receive my thoughts, best articles, events, and occasional offerings.

You may also find this interesting…