What Really Controls Your Behavior?
June 1, 2023 6:00 AM EST | 8 min read
When you think about why people behave the way they do, you might think material things control our behavior.
I believe humans are driven by more than just money, fame, and stuff.
Humans are driven by the need to be spiritually connected and feel love.
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All of us have faced that inevitable decision to believe in a higher power.
The ability to believe that there is something higher has waged wars, formed countries, and helping people overcome addictions and illness.
Humans need to be plugged into their spiritual side.
Human nature comprises the mind, body, relationship with others, and the soul, which is the integrative factor of all elements.
These elements dictate behavior, life accomplishment, and growth.
Does money drive human behavior?
Money has an influence on our decisions and behaviors.
Our culture teaches us early on that wealth provides security and more life opportunities.
Money provides opportunities like taking exotic trips or buying magnificent homes.
We are told that it increases the probability that desirable people of the opposite sex will fall all over us.
This is the world telling you what to do.
Don’t limit yourself to what people around you say or think!
It doesn’t matter who these people are, be it your parents, spouse, mentors, teachers, or colleagues.
My challenge to you is to find out why you seek money!
Grab a piece of paper and follow along:
- Write five reasons you pursue money on the left side of your paper. Write the ‘why’s’ for those five reasons on the right side.
- The right side of your paper is there to help you dig beneath the surface for why you do what you do. Pause for a few minutes and write them down.
- Do you like what you see?
- Is the time spent and priority assigned to getting money more important than other things you value in life?
- Have your relationships suffered because of your career?
- Has your career provided you with more than just security?
- What is your higher purpose in life? Has your career moved you towards this purpose?
Does a desire for fame control your behavior?
I think not everyone desires fame.
However, there are a few who want to make a neck turn.
These few want to enter a crowded room and feel the conversation stop.
They are busy networking, writing, interviewing, and discussing their latest project—a screenplay, a memoir, or a new show.
Anything that will satisfy their desire to beat invisibility.
Fame-seeking behavior appears rooted in a desire for social connection, belonging, and social distinction.
There is also the need to leave behind a legacy that will affect humanity in the future.
Now, imagining the good things that come with fame is easy.
Fame can affect our income potential, networking, and opportunities for advancement.
However, money is complicated.
Many people with money, including lottery winners, hate it because it takes over their life.
Similarly, fame completely changes every aspect of life.
From mundane tasks such as going to the mall, fame affects who we associate with and how we live.
Fame affects our self-esteem and perceptions of self-worth.
It is not about the attention but how your self-perceptions are affected.
If you seek fame, I challenge you to ask yourself why.
- Do you want to be famous or successful?
- Is it your goal to live a higher/elite lifestyle?
- Do you desire fame to be seen or valued?
- Why do you desire fame? Is it to help others or to make them proud?
- Now look at your answers and determine what your overall life goal is. Do you need fame to accomplish your life goal?
Why does love drive humans?
Now, love is a means of spiritual growth.
To truly love another requires humility and patience.
Being in love is a life experience that teaches us to exist with others.
To have lasting healthy love requires humility, patience, kindness, and perseverance.
Real love results in feeling a part of something.
Love allows one to feel like they belong and are a part of something outside themselves.
Now once you have achieved love, how will it affect your behavior?
- Which type of relationship makes you feel whole?
- Are there skills and abilities you want to nurture within your relationships?
- What are your love and belongingness needs? This includes relationships with family, friends, and a partner/spouse.
- Are your love/belongingness needs being met?
- What drives you onward in life every day, without fail?
Letting spiritual thoughts guide your behavior
First, consider your obligations, responsibilities, and needs.
This includes responsibilities to your parents, family, society, country, etc.
Maybe your goal is to support your family, contribute and give back to society, or even master a skill.
To accomplish your goal, one must not be afraid to question their motives.
Knowing exactly what you want and why you want it can save you a lot of time and hardship.
Staying in a career you hate because it provides money, fame, or even desirable relationships can leave you feeling unfulfilled.
Understanding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will lead you closer to fulfilling your life’s purpose.
Science, psychology, and religion merge at one point.
They all would agree that humans can control their thoughts.
The next step is to understand how our thoughts affect our ability to control our emotions.
The body’s physiological response and behavior unite science and spirituality.
Life is full of changes, surprises, messes, and wonderment.
Experience results in the ability to grow spiritually.
Spiritual growth feeds our need for self-discovery, self-reflection, self-realization, and self-exploration.
Learning how to grow spiritually is a lifelong journey that occurs as you learn from the highs and lows of life.
- What are your spiritual needs?
- What is the level of spirituality you wish to attain?
- How can I feed my spiritual hunger?
How basic needs relate to behavior
Therefore, I will take it back to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Sure, money provides safety, fame provides esteem, and love provides belonging.
However, is that enough to control your thoughts, behaviors, and actions?
Connecting with your thoughts, humbling yourself, and accepting that your perceptions can change illuminates new possibilities and leads to self-actualization.
Once again, I will reiterate, human nature is made of mind, body, relationship with others, and the soul, which is the integrative factor of all elements.
The ‘Human Story’ is that of growth, goals, and the desire to be better, which requires the belief in something more.
Now, I want to address what is at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
The top of the pyramid is the need to be Self-Actualized.
Self-actualization means you consider yourself to be good, to be fully alive, and to find meaning in life.
The questions included in the post reflect a means upon which to evaluate how much meaning you have found in life.
Once you have met your physical needs, feel secure, have esteem, and love, only one thing is left.
The next and final step is to find meaning.
- What is your passion?
- Do you feel passionate about anything in your life?
- How have you been stopping yourself from pursuing your passion?
Looking back on history to those that have found meaning and self-actualization, spirituality is at the forefront.
Just think of names that are associated with self-actualization.
Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Viktor Frankl are among the few.
Despite the dangers, they could see past the lack of safety in their circumstances and remain in tune with their values and purpose.
What Controls You: Our Human Story.
The ‘Human Story’ is about growth, adversity, goals, and the desire to improve.
Develop a belief in something bigger, and you will learn to improve.
With this post, I want you to question your wants, desires, and needs.
I encourage you to take it a step further and examine your thinking in these areas.
Upholding your values and acceptance of your moment-to-moment experience of life unfolds meaning and self-discovery.
Most people spend most of their lives lost in negative thoughts about the past or future.
Some people zone out, trying to plan or fantasize about their life journey.
Remember to live in the moment.
Next, learn your basic needs and values, and connect with your mind and spiritual side.
Living this way will help you lead a life full of meaning and purpose.