Figure Out What's Next

7 Startling Reasons Why You're Unhappy and What You Can Do About It

career change drivers motivation motivationfinder peter axtell purposeful living self-assessment values Apr 18, 2018
purpose motives script

Awareness is the Key

In this post, we'll explore seven reasons why so many people are unhappy and unfulfilled in today's world. Imagine you are driving your car and it just isn't working right. The wheel is pulling to the left, the engine is making a strange sound, and there's some power lacking. You can hope the car will run better, but the hope is not going to do much to get the car to run better. You need to find out what the problem is and then take steps to address each one. With a little introspection, you can shine a light on yourself, and it is with that insight, you'll at least know where the problem lies. From there you can begin to make some small changes that can add up to significant results.

7 Common Problems of Unhappiness

While there are more, we're going to look at the following seven:

  1. Not Living Your Motives
  2. Driven by Your Life Script
  3. Listening and following the Egoic Voice's Messages
  4. Lack of Mastery
  5. Lack of Life Purpose
  6. Lack of Friends
  7. Lack Autonomy

Breaking Down Each Problem

  1. Not Living Your Motives

I've lived the majority of my life having no idea what motives are and how they've had such a profound effect on my life. Motives are pure emotion; they are the energy which causes you to act, either towards something or away from something. You've spent your whole life driven by your intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motives. When you are living out of alignment with your motives, it's like the wheels on your car when they are out of alignment. The car will never steer correctly until it's back in alignment.

McClelland states that your motives have different strengths; some are very strong while others are less strong. Therefore, it follows that your powerful motives have a strong influence on your behavior and your sense of well-being. For example, one of my strongest internal motives is Appreciation.

My first year in real estate I was rookie of the year, meaning I was the top new agent in the firm. I still clearly remember standing at the year-end celebration with all the other agents. The owner of the company was standing there three feet from me, and he had no idea of my name or that I was the top new agent of the year. Understand this isn't about ego, it's about being in an environment where appreciation was lacking (at least for me). I was never happy at that firm in part because my motives were out of alignment with the environment. I eventually left for another firm which meant that my old firm lost a top producer.  It's worth mentioning that someone else who has a low appreciation motive wouldn't be bothered at all by a lack of external recognition.

It's important to look at your current environment and ask the question: Is my environment serving to keep my motives in alignment? The way of finding out what your motives are is to take a scientifically proven motives self-assessment.

  1. Driven by Your Life Script

The author Claude Steiner explains the life script in detail in his book Scripts People Live. Life Script is a Transactional Analysis term that describes the life plan you've made for your life when you were very young. Your life script is also a driver of your behavior in that you strive to live out what that life script says. The life script will have a tremendous influence on whether you strive to succeed, to fail or to live a banal life. The good news is that once you know your life script, you can change it. Since your life script was written in childhood, as an adult, it is no longer relevant. There is a guided exercise that can reveal what your life script is. A good coach who knows how to use the process or a transactional analyst therapist can help you discover your life script. 

  1. Listening and following the Egoic Voice's Messages

The egoic voice, sometimes called the judgmental mind, is a part of the mind that is constantly talking, criticizing, dissatisfied and is always based in fear. If you doubt that, try carefully listening to the content of what the egoic voice says for two or three minutes. What you'll find out is that there is a crazy person inside your head that gives the worst advice you could get. The egoic voice is the source of all the trouble you experience. To be clear, I'm not talking about the part of your mind that solves math problems or sets your schedule for the week. That's your internal computer.

We think the egoic voice is who we are and we've listened to it for so long we take its advice which always results in a loss of well-being. It doesn't work to yell at the egoic voice or tell it to stop. The nature of the egoic voice is to talk constantly; it's what it does. There is only one answer to this problem: Stop listening to it. Or as Bob Newhart would say, “Just stop it.”

I was on the freeway in Denver recently packed with cars all traveling at high speed. I imagined what it would be like to have my egoic voice in the seat as an actual person talking incessantly. It would be saying things like “I don't like that red car, boy what a jerk that driver is, did you see how they cut us off!? Why don't you get in the other lane? I'm sure we're going to be late” and on and on. Then I pictured my egoic voice (whom I've named Heinz after a Heinz ketchup bottle) grabbing the steering wheel trying to take over the car. If that happened, what would you do? You would shove that crazy person back in the seat and tell him: "I'm driving." So every time you notice that crazy voice you can tell it "I'm driving." Try it, it works!

  1. Lack of Mastery

It's been studied in the psychological literature that people want to be competent by nature. It's a striving to want to get ahead and have some level of mastery. Mastery is a fundamental feature of human life. This striving can be reinforced, cultivated and nurtured by your environment. Think about the times when you've felt fulfilled, absorbed and in the moment. Isn't it when you were learning and getting better at something? The most admired figures are not people who sit on the beach at St. Martin and do nothing. No, the people we respect are doing something, being something, accomplishing something.

When I was 16, I got my first guitar. I was naturally drawn to play, and I would not stop practicing for hours a day. I sounded horrible, my fingers hurt and I drove my family crazy playing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” relentlessly. Over time, I got better, and that felt so good, I wanted to get even better still. It was one of the most alive times of my existence so far. Fifty-three years later, I still love playing the guitar and improving. While I don't make my living from the guitar, I still feed that human need for mastery. What is something you'd like to master?   

  1. Lack of Purpose

Purpose is one of the most challenging points to accomplish because most people have not taken the time necessary to discover what the goal of their life is. Simon Sinek has been at the forefront of this subject with the book Start With Why. He describes purpose as something greater than yourself that causes you to take action. Purpose is like a North Star for your life. It guides you through all things. I suggest reading Start With Why and Find Your Why  which are terrific and will start you in the discovery process. And if you want to be lead or even work with a coach, check out our Discover your Purpose course on WhatsNext.

  1. Lack of Friends

We have always been in tribes since evolution began. Early humans would not have survived and did not survive without the tribe and cooperating with it. Depression, despair, rage, and self-centeredness are at epidemic proportions in the modern world. Current research is showing that social media sites like Facebook are not making people feel more connected but in fact less connected.

We need the positive influences that other people who share our values give us. Left on our own, we are susceptible to the egoic voice, and that is a recipe for trouble. If you want to know what your values are, check out our Discover your Values course on WhatsNext.

I phoned my best friend the other day for just a few minutes and was filled with love and connection. Social media cannot give that kind of satisfaction.

  1. Lack of Autonomy

When people have peak experiences that seem to well up from within, they describe these moments as doing something they really want to do. The rewarding feeling is intrinsic to the activity itself, it doesn't require something from the outside. Autonomy is well documented in the book The Art and Science of Personality Development by Dan McAdams. Dan McAdams and Richard Ryan developed a concept called Self-Determination Theory which is one of the most widely adopted theories for human fulfillment. SDT describes three necessary components for humans to thrive. They are Autonomy, Master, and Connectedness. These are significant resources to study.

Question: What insight did you get when going through these seven problems?


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