Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.
Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.
To give you a quick example of nature creating incentives that lead to individuals pursuing their own interests that result in the advancement of the whole, look at sex and natural selection. Nature gave us one hell of an incentive to have sex in the form of the great pleasure it provides, even though the purpose of having sex is to contribute to the advancement of the DNA. That way, we individually get what we want while contributing to the evolution of the whole.