Ambitions complicated relationship with contentment

As children we’re told to “follow our dreams” and “reach for the stars”. Most of us are encouraged to achieve our full potential and to live a life that will make us happy, yet everyone has a different version of happiness.

In order to be happy we make choices, choose friends, careers, where we live, how we socialize, whether we follow religion etc. These choices are heavily influenced by the world you are born into, making choices seem much easier for some than others.

 We have very individualistic experiences during our childhoods, which in turn shapes our future selves.

So is ambition something we all have inside us, helping shape our future? Or are people simply happy to settle for what has been handed to them without any further aspirations; be it materialistic, social desires, personal geographical situation or perhaps within discovering more about yourself; being completely content?

Ambition is everywhere, perhaps not noticed in all situations; however, one would be ambitious to get out of bed in the morning, to eat well or to perhaps be open to new people and make more friends. Another side of ambition is the extreme, to which an individual may want to exceed their capabilities; be it in a materialistic sense, becoming a multi-millionaire, or perhaps to continuously push themselves, to help others, striving to create a better world.

If you are content then surely this translates into being genuinely happy with all aspects of your life and therefore do not need to strive for more?

If this is true then perhaps contentment is killing ambition, settling into houses, jobs or relationships going on to blind you from your own potential, not at the fault of the individual and perhaps they still have that inner desire, but the comfort in contentment may distract you from this, but hey, life’s great!

All of this goes on to lead to the idea that there’s always more out there for each and every one of us; if only we were more aware of this!

With the internet giving us incredibly vast access to education, experiences, information and ideas, it seems a shame that more horizons aren’t widened and people choose to settle for a life that can grow.

With this comes the argument of, why is it frowned upon if we aren’t all continuously striving for more? If you are living a life of which you have no complaints surely this is good thing, and have chosen to ‘settle’ as you are completely content.

Albeit, without ambition the ladder of higher achievable contentment cannot be climbed, reaching different ambitious goals can make you happier leaving you with more self confidence, opening you up to more opportunities, experiences and people. Thus, pushing you out of your comfort zone, discovering inner strength potentially changing your outlook on the world.

With too much of anything being bad for you, naturally too much ambition comes with always wanting; needing more. This therefore suggesting the most ambitious of us may never be content, spending their whole lives trying to reach yet another goal. In turn your selfishness can take over as your ambition has taken priority, perhaps losing sight of what’s important. Not only this but what happens when you fail? Pushing you further past your previous contentment, losing sight of what’s important, potentially being bad for you?

I guess the balance is important, but being aware of both effects is key to ensure you strive for your own personal genuine happiness.

– Nicola Humphreys

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