Sometimes ambition is a bitch. I often wonder if a life without ambition would be easier and happier. No stress from worrying about achievements. No fear of not being enough or creating enough during your life. No struggling to become more than you are right now. Instead, simply being happy with where you are with no need to achieve more or be better.
Without getting philosophical or playing devils advocate about what ambition is to other people, I’ll use the dictionary definition for the sake of this post. Ambition is defined as “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.”
I always viewed those who lacked ambition as lazy or ignorant. Maybe that’s accurate. Or maybe they are content with what they have. Maybe they don’t need anything more than what they have right now to be happy. It’s possible that people without ambition are able to be the most present and can enjoy life more than others who are working to be more in the future.
I met a guy in Costa Rica who seemed happier than most I know. He told me he had no savings and shared a small apartment with roommates. He didn’t own a car or any sort of transportation. He walked 15 minutes to work everyday from his little house in the jungle.
He had a menial job, from my perspective anyhow, working at the little hotel I was staying at. He manned the front desk and occasionally helped out at the hotel bar. To paint an accurate picture, the hotel had 8-10 rooms; the bar had 3 stools and 5-6 tables on an outdoor patio. It wasn’t like he was working at the Ritz-Carlton.
When I spoke with him he was cordial, funny, intelligent and easy to get along with. During our conversation we briefly discussed careers and aspirations. When I asked him what he would like to do with his life, he smiled and calmly said “this, why would I want to do anything else with my life. I have a roof over my head, food to eat and people to share my life with.” Part of me judged him as being unrealistic and full of shit for giving me that answer. While another part of me was insanely jealous because his answer seemed genuine.
Ambition can, at times, be the root of all my suffering. Wanting to be more, achieve more, make more. The constant feeling of needing to work harder to be better. Being a Type A personality, it’s ingrained in my default setting.
However, ambition can also be the driving force of most of my happiness. The feeling of making progress in life and bettering myself may be the most addictive drug in the world. However, too often I allow my happiness and contentment to depend on that feeling. Needing to always be more can leave me feeling incomplete and dissatisfied with my life. (more…)