Here are some questions that bugged me a few years ago…
- Why do we always crave for more?
- What are we all after and why?
- What drives us that keep us going & engage in the same boring, mundane activities every single day?
- What inspires us so much that we are happy to screw up our present to achieve a future state?
- Why this journey towards that future state always seems like a never ending one?
After grappling with them for a long time and I have finally stumbled on the right answer after several attempts. It has never changed ever since and hence I was able to build my theory on our basic drives that motivate our everyday activities. However, In this post, I will try to answer the above questions and let me know if you agree or not?
Each one of us is different, and hence what desires we have of our future is unique to our situation and our desires. This desire translate into specific goals that we want to achieve – travelling the world, making a million dollar, becoming famous or helping a lot of people. As we achieve one goal, another one pops up and even at our death bed after 100 years we may still have one or two goals which will go unmet. So, regardless of who we are and what our situation is, we all are driven by a future state which motivates us to go after them.
Every single thing that we are after, whatever it may be can be summed up as a “better future state” for each of us regardless of who we are – A beggar or a billionaire. Our definition of what this better future state will only change over time but it never goes away. There will always be something in the future that will keep calling us into taking action, and this never ends until we finally die (at least it appears to end).
It is natural for us to think that the future will be good regardless of how good or bad our situation is. This is especially true when things are not going our way as it is our hope of a better future that keeps us from giving up. What is “Hope” by the way – A positive emotion which gives us a sense that our future state will be better than our present. This is exactly why a “hopeless” state (i.e. feeling that our future will never be as good as it is right now) could lead to depression or even attempted suicides. Hence it is critical for us to have a positive sense about our future (Ah! damn you Climate change!).
This drive for a better future has been the main reason for all the advancements that we have made till now or will ever make. But without being judgemental about its benefits, I did ponder over its roots. Why we never had to take “how to be hopeful” lessons from anyone at any time? Why it feels odd to think of schools teaching kids about what it means to be hopeful and how to practice hopefulness. The answer is simple – being hopeful is our most natural way of being and hence we don’t spend time learning it.
You may wonder how we are naturally hopeful & positive about our future? Is this trait unique to us humans alone? Where did we get this quality from? This is not a hard question to answer because Charles Darwin has already done it for us. Evolution is the driver which makes us aim for a better future and work towards it. The evolution has been playing its part since the first living thing came into existence and it continues to impact every living being even today. While most other beings from small cells, plants to animals focus on evolving on essential functions of survival and procreation, we humans as a community have evolved quickly beyond these basic needs thanks to our superior brain. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have this need anymore, but rather it is easier for most of us to meet it. This ability has enabled us to focus on other important aspects of life and set our mind and energy on evolving or improving in that.
This need is the reason why we have made tremendous progress on every front, but this is a never ending journey for each one of us. There will never be a final end goal for this pursuit, well except death. There cannot be a single person (or a living thing for that matter) can claim at any point that they are free of the need to evolve or better themselves. Even those who are said to be “enlightened” regularly engage in activities which indicate that even are not spared. So there is no escaping it. While our areas of interests might differ from one another, what will be common across all of us is the need to progress/improve/evolve in our chosen area of interest.
This need to evolve (or progress) not only drives most of the big decisions of our lives but also strongly influences our everyday activities. Some of the activities which are born out of this instinct to evolve are extremely helpful while others, not so much. With humans, it becomes slightly complicated as this need for progress is not the only need you have; there are three more to go with it – the need for survival, pleasure, and love/appreciation. While all of the needs work well at most of the times, the conflict between them results in confusion in us. Hence, a better understanding of our needs, its manifestation and influence will help us increase our awareness and help us use it to our advantage.
So what are the 3 key conclusions?
- Our need to evolve is an instructive basic need and drives our key decisions.
- Nor you and nor any living being on this planet have a choice but to evolve.
- The only choice you have is the focus area in which you want to evolve
Well, there you have it – One simple answer to all the different questions that we had at the beginning. I am keen to know if you agree with my answer. Is there something that you think I have missed? Let me know in the comments below or write to me. In the next article, I will expand my thoughts on how this need manifests itself in different ways in our lives.