From Huffington Post, The 3 Core Needs: Satisfy Them and You’ll Be Happy
Deci and Ryan found that at the root of human aspiration, there are three core psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness (the need for social connection and intimacy) … You need to feel autonomous, that you are freely choosing things in your life and are not being controlled. You have to feel effective and competent, doing things you initiate and that make you stretch, not what you’re pressured by others into doing. And you have to have close relationships with others to satisfy your social mandate.
Think about all the flailing we have to go through to find what fills us up. Now there’s a roadmap; satisfy your three core needs and you’ll be happy. You can have all the external success in the world, but you’ll remain unfulfilled if even one of the core needs is unaddressed. The catch is that you can only satisfy these needs through intrinsic motivation, the reverse of the external reflex. You seek no payoff, only the inherent interest of the activity itself — for learning, fun, growth. Do it just to do it and you’ll get a whopping internal reward in the form of the lasting version of happiness, gratification.