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  • Writer's pictureEvan Haines

The 4 psychological drives and forces that allow you to conquer your life.

The 4 psychological drives and forces that allow you to conquer your life.

There are four drives in each of us:

- The will to survive.

- The will to knowledge.

- The will to power.

- And the will to meaning.

The first is the will to survive: this is a base-level drive in all organisms. It is the drive to stay alive, to defend oneself, to fight back if necessary, seek shelter and safety, the drive of hunger, and more. These survival responses and wills are designed to keep you alive. This could also include the Darwinian concept of ‘survival of the fittest.’ The opposite would be self-destruction.

The second is the will to knowledge: this is the desire to explore or investigate. The nature of curiosity. Many organisms have this will; but specifically in humans, it is the yearning to know who, what, when, where, why, and how. This can be seen in all the sciences; from physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, etc. Also, in engineering and more. We have a deep desire to know how the universe and each other operate. Many religions and spiritual systems offer answers and explanations to try and satisfy the will to knowledge. The opposite would be a type of apathy.

The third is the will to power: this concept was conceived by Friedrich Nietzsche. It is the drive to seek power and to conquer. Many might believe this means military or corporate conquest; but rather it is to make yourself competent, and capable, and to have power and control in your life; to conquer yourself. The opposite of the will to power is what Nietzsche called the Spirit of Gravity, which is entropy, weakness, and life-denying defeatism.

The fourth is the will to meaning: perhaps a concept most developed by Viktor Frankl. This suggests that life is primarily a quest for meaning and purpose. It is about finding meaning in life, by finding the answers to the questions that life asks of each of us. It also includes finding purpose through your goals and relationships; but also in appreciating the things that you find beautiful. The opposite would be a meaningless life or a life of only pleasure-seeking; which could lead to despair and nihilism.

So, how can we use these wills and drives to create a better life for ourselves?

To satisfy the will to survive: find something worth fighting for and to live for. What would you fight to live another day for? Also, it is about making sure your base needs are met, so you can continue to develop.

To satisfy the will to knowledge: find your passion and something that you can study or learn. This could be a lifelong quest and something you want to master. Or it could be just something short-term that interests you. Always continue to learn and stay inquisitive.

To satisfy the will to power: make yourself as strong and healthy as possible. Find something that you can become capable and competent in. This could be your career, studies, or your family. It could be spiritual like meditation or religion. It could be your body like dancing or going to the gym. Or it could be a skill like art, writing, or music.

To satisfy the will to meaning: know your hopes, dreams, and goals. What can you suffer through? (After all, suffering can lead to profound growth.) What people or things give your life meaning? Who or what can you experience for the sake of the experience itself? What is beautiful to you?

If the will to survive is about finding something to live for. Then the will to meaning, could include finding something that is greater than yourself. It can be something meaningful to you in the here and now, but could also be something that’d benefit the next generation.

If you can satisfy these four wills, it can lead to a meaningful and fulfilling life, a life of minimal regret, and a life worth living which allows you to reach your potential.

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