I've been thinking about what drives people, or, more specifically, what drives me.
There are two ways to approach life. One is to try to minimize pain - to focus on fighting the "low" parts of the cycle. Enduring. Holding together. Being Strong. Avoiding misery and strife when possible, riding it out when not.
The other approach is to try to maximize pleasure - to focus on the "up" parts of life. Doing what feels good. Flying, running, grinning, from one high point to another as quickly as possible.
This isn't a particularly earth-shattering way of looking at things, but it's something I've been pondering today.
Both approaches have their ups and downs, and most people approach life with a combination of the two. The first approach has the problem that, by trying to avoid the chance of pain, one can miss out on a lot of good things in life. If one doesn't take risks, one doesn't get anywhere. That is the attractive side of this approach though - it's the "safe" route, not taking risks or opening one's self up to emotionally dangerous situations. It's also the "responsible" way - working before playing, saving up for rainy days and that sort of thing.
The second approach has the opposite problem - by focusing on pleasure, one can leave one's self open to danger, and end up skipping important things that aren't fun (like doing one's taxes, laundry, etc.), which can pile up and bite you in the ass later. One of the teachers at my high school presented a theory he had from a friend of his on pleasure, and getting through the day. The gist of it was that one needed a certain number of "pleasure hits" during the day to get through - things that made one happy, or feel good. It has been my experience that this can come from many sources - my own list includes chemical induction (booze and friends), sex, love, touch, endorphins (gym!), dancing, creation-pride, to an extent, food, and other stuff I'm probably missing at the moment.
I have come to the conclusion that, over the past ten years, I have been shifting from a pain-minimizing strategy to a pleasure-maximizing one. It has, I think, on the whole, made me happier. I do, however, need to be more aware of what I'm doing, and be careful about getting too far ahead of myself.