It’s always been my belief that there is only one actual driver of human behaviour, although it manifests in a myriad of different sub-motivations.
I believe that every human action is driven by the desire to reach a state of total bliss. From sex to suicide, from the pursuit of power and the power of creation to the horrors of war, it’s all done with one thing in mind.
Complete and total bliss.
There’s a caveat, of course.
We’re really, really bad at actually behaving in a manner that gets us there.
It’s so easy to be distracted, to go off course, to be misled or scared into not doing what’s needed to get there. We often don’t even know where to look. A suicide just wants peace. Warmongers think more power or control will get them there. Greedy capitalists see it in money, artists in creation. A soldier may think it lives in patriotism, while a would-be fascist sees it in blind nationalism. A religious person might find it in church, as meditative prayer or as fiery denouncement.
And while peak bliss is the goal, we often settle for far less. The reasoning could be anything. A lack of understanding of how or what brings it into our lives, as individuals or as groups. Misguided lessons passed down from above or as tradition. Self-esteem issues may cloud the way or we may just fail to do what needs to be done out of fear.
We may opt for the easy way out, because we see getting to a place of bliss as too hard. A journey too long, with too many steps (though it’s never really that far away if we can get into the right head space).
So we settle. We allow ourselves to be dragged along through someone else’s promise of a good life, even though that life might be based on lies or hate or the minimization of us as people. We may fool ourselves into thinking we don’t deserve it, that it’s not possible for us, that it’s the province of better people.
But it’s still what drives us.
It’s like setting out to build a spaceship and ending up with one of those wooden cars with the janky wheels we used to build in Cub Scouts.
We want to build. We just don’t know how and can’t be bothered or are too distracted or blind to figure it out. And we’re all a bit different.
My bliss may not be your bliss, though I’d like to state for the record, that no true bliss is based on violence or deceit. These two things are most often the cause of why we aren’t living in constant bliss. Force or the threat of force, and deceit, in our institutions, in our culture, in our philosophy, and in our individual relationships. Even with ourselves.
We minimize what’s possible because we forget, or we get distracted, or because we never knew.
But it’s still there. It’s the reason.
And it’s up to us to do better, if we truly want it.