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Understanding Your Drives for Better Mental Health: The Key to Unlocking Your Inner Compass

mental health

Ever wonder why you crave adventure one day and curl up with a good book the next? It all boils down to the fascinating world of human drives – the unseen forces that propel us forward, shaping our choices and impacting our mental health.

Think of drives as internal compasses, guiding us towards experiences that fulfill our deepest needs. While there are many drives at play, three major ones significantly influence our mental well-being:

    The Go-Getter Drive: Fueling Ambition and Achievement:

    This drive is the fire in our belly, pushing us to set goals, strive for progress, and conquer challenges. It whispers, “You’ve got this!” It fuels our ambition and motivates us to take action. But just like a car with a faulty accelerator, an overactive go-getter drive can lead to aggression, workaholism, and burnout.

    The Pleasure Drive: Seeking Joy and Reward:

    This drive steers us towards experiences that bring us happiness and satisfaction. It makes us crave delicious food, social interaction, and activities we find enjoyable. It’s like a built-in reward system, keeping us motivated. However, if we solely chase pleasure, neglecting other drives, it can lead to unhealthy habits, addiction, and a sense of emptiness.

    The Give-Back Drive: Cultivating Purpose and Connection:

    This recently recognized drive is a powerful force for good. It compels us to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, to create, nurture, and leave a positive mark on the world. It’s the urge to volunteer, help others, and be part of something meaningful. This drive fosters a sense of purpose, belonging, and connection, all crucial for positive mental health.

    Finding the Sweet Spot: Balancing Drives for Optimal Wellbeing

    Just like a perfectly tuned engine, achieving optimal mental health hinges on finding a balance between these drives. Here’s how:

      Recognize Your Drive Signature:

      Pay attention to what motivates you. Do you constantly chase deadlines (go-getter)? Do you prioritize relaxation and fun (pleasure)? Understanding your dominant drive can be an eye-opener.

      Tame the Overactive Drive:

      If your go-getter drive is causing stress, schedule relaxation breaks, practice mindfulness, and delegate tasks. For an overactive pleasure drive, set boundaries, explore healthier coping mechanisms, and pursue activities with a long-term benefit.

      Ignite the Underused Drive:

      Feeling unfulfilled? Nurture your give-back drive. Volunteer, mentor, or simply do something kind for someone else. Helping others not only benefits them but also boosts your own mental well-being.

      Seeking Professional Guidance:

      Sometimes, navigating the complexities of our drives can be challenging. Mental health professionals can be invaluable partners on this journey. They can help you:

        Uncover Underlying Patterns:

        They can delve deeper into your past experiences and identify how they might be influencing your current drive system.

        Develop Coping Strategies:

        They can equip you with tools and techniques to manage your drives in a healthy way.

        Create a Personalized Roadmap:

        They can guide you in creating a personalized plan to cultivate a balanced and fulfilling life.

        Understanding your drives isn’t just about behavior; it’s about unlocking the potential for a happier, healthier you. By acknowledging these internal forces and striving for balance, you can navigate life’s challenges with greater self-awareness and purpose. Remember, mental health is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the exploration, and watch your inner compass lead you towards a life filled with meaning and well-being.

        Bonus for Your Mental Health – Recommended Gadgets 

        Understanding Aggression:

        Biofeedback devices: These can help you learn to recognize and manage physiological changes associated with anger, such as increased heart rate or muscle tension. You can use biofeedback apps or games that provide real-time feedback on your body’s responses.

        Virtual Reality (VR) Therapy:

        VR experiences can be used for anger management by exposing users to simulated situations that might trigger anger in a safe environment. This allows them to practice relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms.

        Understanding Pleasure:

        Mindfulness and Meditation Apps: These apps can help cultivate a sense of calm and focus, which can be helpful in regulating your pleasure response and avoiding unhealthy addictions. Examples include Headspace and Calm.

        Fitness Trackers:

        Monitoring your activity levels can help you identify activities that bring you pleasure and motivate you to engage in them more. Fitness trackers like Fitbit can also track sleep, which is crucial for regulating mood and pleasure.

        Understanding Generativity:

        Volunteer Matching Apps:

        Apps like Be My Hero or Idealist can connect you with volunteer opportunities that align with your interests and values, fostering a sense of purpose and generativity.

        Genealogy Research Tools:

        Exploring your family history through platforms like can connect you to your ancestors and provide a sense of belonging and legacy, aspects of generativity.

        Important Note:

        It’s important to remember that these gadgets are not one-size-fits-all solutions and may not be effective for everyone. If you’re struggling with any of these human drives in a way that is negatively impacting your life, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.

        Bonus for Your Mental Health – Recommended Books

        • An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison 
        • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl 
        • Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari 
        • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk 
        • The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks

        Additional Resources to Improve Your Mental Health

        For more information and support on improving mental health, consider exploring the following resources:

        Mental Health America

        Mind (UK)

        Beyond Blue (Australia)

        Canadian Mental Health Association

        European Alliance Against Depression