Why we behave in a certain way?

All human behavior is driven by some kind of incentive. The primary incentives are to avoid pain and to feel good. We tend to do that which makes us feel good and avoid anything which causes us pain. We work hard because we hate being broke. We seek out mates and friendly acquaintances because we hate feeling lonely. A helpful strategy is to clearly visualize what you wish to gain or avoid before undertaking a certain course of action. The more compelling the reason for doing something the higher your chances of seeing it through to the very end.

We tend to react faster to short term incentives compared to long term incentives. It is much easier to eat ice cream than it is to eat vegetables instead. The immediate gratification usually outweighs the long term health benefits of eating vegetables. Try associating a lot of negative sentiments with short term incentive which are not good for you in the long run. Then associate good emotions with the long term option. For instance convince yourself that eating too much ice cream will make you fat, unhealthy and sick. You could die early and leave your young children behind. Then your kids will not complete school and will end up poor and destitute. On the other hand if you lead a healthy lifestyle you will live long enough to hold your grandchildren. 

Incentives can also cause bias in the way we think and view the world. A politician seeking re-election is likely to act in a way which increases their chances of re-election rather than acting in the best interest of society. In all interactions most people are biased towards obtaining some personal incentive. It always helps to know what the people around you hope to gain by associating with you.

All creatures respond to incentives to keep themselves alive. Understanding what drives us can really help us to achieve what we truly want. It can also help us to uncover the hidden motives behind seemingly friendly relations. 

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