(PART OF 'NATURE OF EXISTENCE' SERIES.)
As a living being, I have compulsive needs and many desires. These needs and desires form the motives for my actions. (or deliberate inaction which is also action.)The main need is self-preservation and the main desires are pleasure, comfort and security for myself and for those I am attached to. I am programmed to constantly strive to fulfill these needs and desires without endangering my existence or putting what I already have at big risk.
(The so-called self-actualization and self-realization are not apart from these and may well be mythical goals set by the egotistic mind, being unable to be at peace with the realities and to accept harsh truths. And the 'higher self' is a false creation of the 'lower self' because the lower or lowly self does not like to be the low self. ("Most of us do not want to know what we are. We invent the higher self, the supreme self, and all the innumerable ideas, to escape from the reality of what we are". J Krishnamurti.)
I come across opportunities and threats in the external environment for the fulfillment of those needs and desires. I am also programmed to strive to use such opportunities and to avoid or neutralise such threats to the best of my intellect. Intellect is also shaped by the motives emanating from the needs and desires described above and at the best, only de-risks the fulfillment of those needs and desires.
There is no freewill and self-efforts over and above these nor a self as a separate and distinct entity. The self is a notional center, a phantom, created by the mind for the above activities and of the related play of senses.
The realization of the above truths and acting always rooted in these truths result in peaceful mental state and in the greatest virtue called humility, or at least absence of egotism (egotism is sense of self-importance, the basic cause of conflict) and these in turn help improve relationships - for nothing exists in isolation and life is interdependent and is a matter of relationships.