Striving For Less Ambition
Ambition is the crux of the American Dream, the defining factor of a meritocracy. It has driven driven me for years. However, I have shifted my view of ambition recently. I no longer think of it as a virtue to strive to epitomize; I now think of it as a vice to be stripped away. There are two sides to ambition that I now believe to be toxic.
1. Ambition makes it difficult to be grateful.
Ambition is precluded by the belief that what you have, who you are, and where you are are not good enough. To be truly ambitious, I believe you have to be wanting more. More wealth, more recognition, more possessions, more freedom, whatever. Ambition leads us to believe that for some reason having that high-paying job, in the perfect city, with a breadth of admirers is, for some reason, something to aspire towards, something to sacrifice for. Therefore, it is very difficult to be satisfied with who, what, where we currently are, which leads to:
2. Ambition makes it difficult to be present.
Ambition forces us to constantly be planning. We sacrifice our current happiness and ruin away in the office because we believe that our sacrifices now will pay off later. We compare our current position to the unrealized reality we have in our mind. I’m not sure if this gap can ever be closed. Once you achieve x, suddenly you now must have y. Does ambition ever end? Do you reach the top of the summit, smile and pour yourself some tea or do you just look over and realize you’ve climbed the wrong mountain?