Growing up, I used to think not having worldly ambitions was a sign of weakness.
I used to think that people who were content with what they had lacked drive.
I used to think satisfaction was the enemy of progress.
Now I know I was wrong.
You see, being content with what you have is actually admirable. It's something to strive after. It the sign of a wholesome individual.
In my more youthful days, I would've scoffed at the idea of being okay with what I had, because that would've meant I wouldn't be working towards something better. Of course, I was wrong. Now I know I can do both.
You can always find joy in the present moment, and you can always work towards something.
Love, acceptance, and presence are much better fuel in building something than fear, envy, revenge, or anger. The latter emotions will only get you so far, and they completely take the joy out of the journey. Don't let anyone tell you that fear or anger is necessary to get you through life. While it can propel you forward, there are forces far, far greater than can pull you without you even having to push. Love is one such force.
If you're going to be ambitious, at least be truthful about what you really want, and then go directly after that. Don't go after situations that you think will trigger what you want. Just go after what you want.
And I have news for you - we all only ever want the same thing. I've talked about it before and I will say it again. Behind everything you think you want is the same thing - unconditional joy, peace, love, enthusiasm, creativity - an immense sense of well-being that's greater than any pleasure you've ever felt.
You just say that you want 10 million dollars. You say that you want to travel the world. You say that you want to work for a non-profit changing lives. You say all that, but you don't mean it. You say all that because you think those things will give you that immense sense of well-being.
My whole point is, why not just go directly after the well-being? Why not be ambitious about that? Instead of going after the triggers, why not go after the source?
Somehow, the people who were content actually found something that the more ambitious-looking folks didn't have, which was enough.
There's a well-known anecdote that sums up this predicament perfectly.
At a party hosted by a billionaire, author Kurt Vonnegut was conversing with his other author friend, Joseph Heller, informing him that their host had made more money in a single day as a hedge fund manager than Heller had earned in his entire life from his successful novel Catch-22.
Heller responded something along the lines of, “Yes, but I have something he will never have — ENOUGH.”
Growing up, I would've envied the billionaire, and that envy would've propelled me, probably down many dead ends. Now, I look back and laugh. To think that a billion dollars is the answer couldn't be further from the truth. It's just, well, a billion dollars. I'm still me, looking out of the same eyes, in the same body, with or without the money. The same goes for you.
Instead of devoting your life to attaining things you don't have because you think they'll fill your void, what if instead you made it your life's mission to learn how to find joy and appreciation in every moment? Wouldn't that make a heck of a lot more sense than fighting with life to get something because you think it'll make you happy?
Live with substance!