Can Contentment and Ambition Co-Exist?

In the modern world, we are more likely to encounter people who are always busy and on-the-go, than those without much to do and content. However, there is a paradox that exists in our society, because as much as we all want to be ambitious, “successful” and make money, we also WISH we could slow down. Well, can we? It is possible to be content and ambitious at the same time?

Let us first consider the root of our “busy,” problem. The root of this problem is our incessant search for fulfillment. We are running away from insecurities by keeping ourselves busy, motivated to get a promotion or make more money. But, what if we had found fulfillment without having to do all of this running around? Would we then be considered unambitious, unmotivated and lazy? To some, perhaps.

Contentment is the other end of the spectrum, where one might find themselves totally at peace with where they are and feeling like they have everything they could ever want in this moment without promotion, monetary bonus or achievement of a higher status.

Unfortunately, we will continue to battle this paradoxical wanting to have ambition yet be content, but we most definitely can find a common ground if we choose to. I believe the sweet spot between the two is detachment.

In being content with where you are and what you have in the moment, it already sets you up to solve for the challenge of ambition. With being content, ambition acts as a hobby or sport in our already fulfilling lives. When we think of it as a sport we can relate to the want for friendly competition, accomplishment and play but we do not take it so seriously. You know that winning in that game of pickup basketball with a friend will not add lasting fulfillment your life (hopefully for most of us), but it is a fun addition to the day.

Similarly, living life with contentment allows for us to find pleasures in the small things, remain humble in great accomplishments and most important, and always remain grateful for where we are whether our ambitions grows or diminishes.

To answer the initial question whether contentment and ambition can co-exist, I would argue, yes, but in order for this to be achieved, it is important for our mindset to remain in contentment and pursue our ambitions with a detached approach to its role in the fulfillment in our lives.

Today, take a moment from the “busy” day to appreciate all you have. And, isn’t it enough? It’s beautiful! 🙂

What Do You Want To Be Remembered For?

This morning’s Daily Stoic passage had been titled, “What’s Written on Your Tombstone?” but as a more light-hearted twist, I pose the comparable question, “What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?”

The idea of this question is really to recognize what motivates you in life and what kind of accomplishments are important to you. Do we want to be remembered by having the biggest house on the block? Working the longest hours? Wearing the nicest clothes? All accomplishments as a result of what we have done in life. Or, would we rather be remembered for being the sweetest person in class? Being the most positive person at work? Being the most giving and thoughtful individual in the family? Obviously there are no judges or commemorative plaques to deem you as such, no tangible items to show for it, but this is a reflection of who you are as a being.

The one quote in the passage, which had most summarized this thought is, “We are human beings, not human doings.”

The passage makes me think of a story about a man who made millions of dollars working long hours, but as a result, rarely saw his family and knew little about his son. Though, he had all of life’s glamour.

At the end of his life, this man was recognized for all of the accomplishments that had granted him this wealth. However, his son had no clear memory of who he was. He knew his father had provided for him, given him new clothes and purchased a car for him, but had always been this sort of fiction character in his life. He was grateful for all of the things he did for him, but wished he knew him better.

Written on his father’s tombstone had been “#1 Stock Trader,” for all of his colleagues, associates and friends knew this was his drive in life and spoke of little else.

This passage was quite powerful since it has us question our own life aspirations, why we are doing it and who are we being in the process. Some care more about money and fame than they do the way they treat or care for others. So, money and fame is what they will be remembered for. Ironically, that does not sound like a glamorous remembrance to me.

Upon reflecting on what I would want to be remembered for, I would want to be remembered for being a source of peace and inspiration for everyone who surrounds me. I do have grand career aspirations but my drive is to assist in this mission to be a source of peace and inspiration to my family, friends, co-workers, future family, etc. So, even more important than this doing ambition itself, if all else fails career-wise, simply continuing being a source of peace and inspiration to others is all I would ever want to be remembered for.

So now I ask ya, what do YOU want to be remembered for?

 

Question: If You Were To Invite Three People to Dinner Who Would They Be? – Alive or Dead

Upon recent conversation with my significant other, we had discussed the three people (alive or dead) we would want to invite over as a dinner guest. I’m sure throughout life these choices have changed and will change, as if it were a lifetime- long game of musical chairs. Currently, off the top of my head, at this time of in life, I have selected—Barbara Corcoran, Brene Brown, and Oprah (though, originally chose Tupac Shakur for somewhat similar reason).

Although it seems like a strange pairing of people, I feel each of them add a unique perspective given their life work and experiences.

Barbara Corcoran is a notable real estate businesswomen and investor on the popularized show, Shark Tank. My own real estate interest aside, Barbara Corcoran’s mindset, creativity and street-smarts is what is most admirable. Her success story tells a tale of a fellow Jersey girl from modest beginnings rise above challenge and build a real estate empire through her creative wits and lessons from her mother. This crediting to her mother has been especially interesting, paralleling the manner in which her mother raised Barbara and her 10 siblings with her own future business achievements. One story in Barbara’s memoir, Shark Tales, which stood out to me had been her mother’s ability to single-handedly get all of her children washed and clothed in assembly-line fashion. The efficiency of her parenting presented the impression that being a parent was her business and she treated it as so. Furthermore, as someone whose mother is also a great motivator in my life, I take to this accrediting on a sentimental note as well.

One Question to Ask: Being someone who is very much an action-taker, what would be your advice to someone who is alternatively learning and preparing for action but is struggling to make the leap? What can they do to begin closing that gap between learning and taking action?

 

Brene Brown is an American research psychologist and story-teller. I am a newer follower of Brene Brown, having listened to my first book of hers, The Power of Vulnerability, a few months ago, but have followed her work quite diligently thereafter. Brown’s psychology focus is in that of shame and vulnerability. Such topics are definitely a hard listen, but Brown makes light of much of these topics through her own personal stories and kind-hearted nature in her delivery. It is important to have Brene Brown at the dinner table because of how much of an impact her work has had on truly becoming more comfortable with myself, my past and my relationships. Her work has allowed me to forgive myself for not being perfect and, conversely, and somewhat ironically, soak into the opportunities that come with imperfection. Her good-natured delivery has allowed me to laugh off things that have brought me worry and feel more normal in feeling a certain way by exposing the folly of us human beings in believing it’s “just me” or “I’m the only one” feeling this way. It’s not just us.

One Question to Ask: What do you do when you feel you are taking something too seriously?

 

Oprah is an American journalist, media-mogul, businesswomen and motivator. In reflecting on why I would want Oprah to be at my dinner table, I think back to the book report I did on her in the 5th grade. It shook me. The trauma and tragedy Oprah had endured herself at a similar age was something I could barely read about and she had to experience it. Through all of the abuse and loss she experienced as a child, she grew up to now be one of the most influential and wealthy women of our time. What she was able to achieve in her life, never discouraged by her failures, is a testament to her mental strength. Furthermore, I have always been fascinated by the way Oprah conduct an interview, from the linguistic quality of the questions she asks to her genuine engagement with her guests. As a writing creative myself, it is interesting to dissect the reasons behind the pairing of words, and how Oprah has been a master of this to intentionally prompt her guests to share intimate experiences. This is a masterful craft, not a skill that can be executed by just anyone. Oprah has made such word-play her expertise, just as a musical artist does so similarly to prompt listeners’ emotions.

One Question to Ask: How can we ask better quality questions to enhance our connections with one another?

 

Ask yourself this question! Who would you invite