Sigmund Freud proposed that the "pleasure principle" was the main driving force behind life. He said that everyone wants to live a life full of pleasure. Alfred Adler stated that humans' main driving force was "striving for superiority". He stated that "We all wish to overcome difficulties. We all strive to reach a goal by the attainment of which we shall feel strong, superior, and complete." To Adler, self-improvement was what drove us as humans.
Viktor Frankl, after studying under both Freud and Adler and then being imprisoned in German concentration camps during the Second World War, proposed that "the will to meaning" is the primary driving force in humans. While imprisoned, he discovered the importance of finding meaning and purpose in all forms of existence — including suffering — and therefore a reason to continue living.
Psychologists generally agree that the "will to live" is the very basic drive in humans. The will to live can be described as having a "fight for survival" mentality. This idea stems from the belief that people, when on the edge of death, can consciously or unconsciously decide to stay alive because of the belief that there is something to live for.
This is a concept that is directly impacted by hope. It's also generally agreed that without the will to live, it would not be possible for humans to satisfy other drives.
I believe it's not the same for everyone. For some, their driving force is the will to pleasure, for others, it is self-improvement. For me, finding the purpose for my life has always been my driving force. Through my early-to-mid teen years, before I was a Christian, I knew I was born for something more than what I was settling for. However, I didn't know what that was, so I spent three years of my life lost and going in circles. I was chasing far off dreams and the bottom of bottles.
My driving force made me uncomfortable and restless, because I knew I was here for a reason, but I had no idea what that was. It wasn't until a close friend of mine helped me find Jesus that I finally found how to work through my driving force productively.
When I found Jesus, I found love. When I found Jesus, I found my place on earth and my place in His kingdom.
Because of God's love and grace, I found the purpose I'd been looking for. It wasn't revealed to me overnight — quite the contrary. Over the past four-to-five years of my Christian walk, there have been a lot of dead-ends and a lot of missed opportunities. But that doesn't matter, because all the while I was living through my driving force. God was slowly revealing His purpose for my life.
More than we do
As far as I'm aware, humans want to live a happy and fulfilling life, surrounded by the people we love, and who love us, doing something we're truly passionate about. The fact is, God wants that for us too (maybe even more than we do).
After all, He knows us better than we know ourselves (Romans chapter 8, verse 27). He knows what we're passionate about, He knows what really gets us going, and He knows our true driving force. God wants us to live a truly happy, fulfilling, joyous life, and He knows exactly what will help us live a life just like that.
A driving force may be something that you treasure — after all, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew chapter 6, verse 21). It's what causes you to have hopes and dreams. For me, it's my reason to get out of bed in the morning, and quite literally, it's the reason I'm alive.
I believe that knowing our own personal driving force is the key to understanding ourselves and finding that fulfilling life we all want to live. Obviously, your driving force may differ from the very few I listed above. It could be something totally unique to you or something as mainstream (and possibly self-focused?) as mine.
It could be to spread as much love as you possibly can. Maybe it's money. Maybe it's family. Maybe you don't want your driving force to be what it is (for example, greed).
An easy way to find out what your driving force is, is to pay attention to what you think and talk about throughout the day. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew chapter 12, verse 34), and we learned earlier that what we treasure is in our hearts. Chances are, the thing that fills your thoughts and takes over your conversations during the day is your driving force.
At least one
So, what's the driving force behind your life? It's a very thought-provoking question, but an important one to ask yourself. We all have at least one. After some soul-searching, you may find that your driving force is a lot stronger and a more powerful influence in your life than you previously thought it was. Like I mentioned earlier, on the other hand, you may find your driving force to be selfish.
The great thing about a driving force, is that you can always change it if it becomes unhealthy or ungodly. What does God want any one of us to focus on?
I suggest some soul-searching, and meditate on your driving force. Find out what really gets you going. Find the passion and re/ignite the fire in your heart. And lastly, surround yourself with like-minded people.
Through knowing my driving force, God has positioned my life to a place where my passions for creativity and helping young people work hand-in-hand. I firmly believe that God has the same position of your dreams for you as well. My laudable aim is each person who reads this might pursue it?
First published March 18, 2013
Lehi is a youth worker at Zeal Youth Centre in Wellington, NZ, and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He loves painting, writing bad poetry, and doing life in the company of people with big hearts.
Lehi Duncan's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lehi-duncan.html