What is the Fourth Instinct?

Arianna Huffington
Health Education
Biologists, psychologists and social scientists have long tried to define us exclusively through only three instincts. They have given them different names, but with varying emphasis have agreed that the three basic instincts are survival, the drive toward self-assertion and power, and the sexual urge. These are the instincts that tie us to our animal past. The Fourth Instinct is what drives us to expand the boundaries of our caring to include our communities and the world around us. Empathy is not a quaint behavior trotted out during intermittent visits to a food bank or during a TV telethon. Instead, it lies at the very core of human existence.

Only when we awaken to our Fourth Instinct, the instinct that links us to our future, do we take the next step in our evolution, toward an understanding of life's true meaning. The Fourth Instinct serves as our "highest common denominator," enabling us to overcome isolation and achieve community. It leads us to inner peace and outer harmony, reconciling our first three instincts with our greater purpose. To follow the Fourth Instinct is to obey the law of human development. It is a universal law, but it expresses itself differently in each individual. Indeed, there are as many paths to wholeness as there are those who would walk them, threads through the labyrinth of life that we can follow to the center of ourselves and of all existence.

The charge of our Fourth Instinct is to move us from the tyranny of our fight-or-flight mechanism to the liberation of a practical spirituality that transforms our everyday life. And when we choose to evolve, when we choose to listen to the Fourth Instinct and live under its reign, we will change our lives and the world.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.