Is it Spiritual to Be Ambitious?

Trends in popular psychology seem to have slightly shifted from topics about how to become successful, determined and follow through our goals towards getting to know ourselves better, accepting who we are and connecting to our inner greatness (a.k.a soul searching).

It appears that we realised that it is not enough to reach goals set by society and ourselves and get certain rewards. Even when we manage to do so, we usually do not feel completely satisfied and fulfilled, as though “success “ or “achievement” is not our ultimate reason for existing.

As humans we are insatiable, so there is a risk that ambition will consume us and we will end up wasting our life and regretting it. There is some truth in the following thoughts” No matter how much you get, you will never be happy with it. That is the way we have been created.”

Isn’t spirituality only for losers, bored and emotionally unstable?

“Soul Searching” trend isn’t only a consequence of our modern era, it has been going on since the dawn of time. Religion, philosophy, spirituality all aspire to give answers to the big question- what is the purpose and meaning of life. People become spiritual, and a majority even religious to give themselves a higher sense of importance, understanding, and control over the complex, demanding and yet, rationally inexplicable World.

Spirituality is a very delicate topic, mostly because it is a wide construct that is differently perceived from various perspectives. It reflects person’s beliefs about life and the human role in it. Defined like that, it is value-neutral and there can be as many different spiritual beliefs as there are people on this planet.  

Many business leaders are spiritual leaders, as they incorporate their beliefs into their leadership and their personality into their company’s vision. This allows them to have a higher sense of importance, understanding, and control over their work. Awakened and conscious commitment to their service ultimately supports the company’s ongoing growth.

While some so-called “spiritual people” (especially extreme self-promoters) can fall into the category of unsuccessful individuals who got beaten down or are not fit for the “material world” and are licking their wounds, that is not fair to say that spirituality is only for the weak.

On the contrary, it takes a lot of strength to rise about money and prestige and seek to live a meaningful life by constantly developing yourself and asking many powerful questions.

Spirituality typically deals with question like

  1. Am I a good person?
  2. What is the meaning of my suffering?
  3. What is my connection to the world around me?
  4. Do things happen for a reason?
  5. How can I live my life in the best way possible?

Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than yourself, which can result in positive emotions, such as peace, awe, contentment, gratitude, and acceptance.

Should we abandon ambition?

Lately, as aforementioned, the value of ambition is slowly giving way to spiritual ideas about what is important in life. People want to be more satisfied with themselves, they do not want their state of mind to depend solely on their accomplishments, status, and power. This sounds like an easily acceptable shift if it wasn’t for the fact that ambition suddenly became less admirable. At some point, Western society eased down on glorifying this desire for achievement and turned towards fulfilment and wellbeing (1).

Such a sudden change in values of can cause us to feel very confused or conflicted. We could start wondering if we are being sidetracked and “in the wrong” for not wanting anymore the “walk the conventional path to success”. On the other hand, if we are self-conscious enough it is reasonable to recognise that our goals and persistence have actually helped us achieve many significant things that we really wanted and needed.

Our desire does not need to be only for abundance. In order to reach mindfulness, transcendental consciousness or however we define the ideal spiritual state, our basic physical needs have to be fulfilled. It is evident that it is difficult to put our minds in any other state than fear if it is uncertain when is our next meal going to be, if we are going to have a roof over our head or if our child is going to be safe.

Is it Spiritual to have or want Stuff?

The income increase is followed by an increase in happiness, but it stops making a difference after basic needs are covered (2). Does that mean that our aspirations, wants and desires are pointless? The answer may be “yes”, but that takes us back to our conflict from the beginning – is it wrong to want more?

Some would instinctively argue that being humble, thankful and focused on the present is what we need to progress and develop. If we think about it, even that could be regarded as wanting ‘more’. So it comes up to how we define what it means to fulfil our potential. It is just that the word ‘ambition’ itself has a connotation of something that leads to abuse of power that comes with accomplishments, or self-absorbedness that people can slip into.

It would be naive to say that some people do not try to cover their selfish intentions by defining them as ambition. They excuse their means by claiming that their goals are more important and require ‘walking over others’ for the greater good. We see people like this almost every day and it is not difficult to conclude why people have an aversion towards extreme thinking and behaviour like that.

Yet, there are cases of people who succeed and thrive in life while being humble, grateful and focused on the well-being of others and the World as a whole. They are the ones living from their heart while acquiring stuff and giving it away. They are the ones who understand that the joy of life in giving and somehow the more they give the more they got to give.

How the reconcile the Insatiable Human, Society and the Soul?

Our spiritual progress does not have to be determined by our ability to let go of ambition, our ego, our need for material goods, our hopes or dreams. It can, instead, be reflected in our flexibility and acceptance of all these elements as “essential” parts of our Being.

We should be able to accept that practical, goal-oriented thinking and drive for success that motivates it, is not necessarily stripping people of their “sacred soul”.

Instead of trying to become Buddha or Badass, we can let ourselves become aware of our own personal path, involving “the best of both worlds” and but doing so including all the opportunities for reaching fulfilment in life.

That is not an easy task to accomplish and it takes a lot of time and effort to master the art of balancing between these extremes. Yet, if we become 1% percent better at it every day we will come far in only 1 year.

My invitation to you is to stay ambitious but do not expect that becoming conventionally successful will be “the solution” for life satisfaction. Instead, while you plan, aim, reach and accomplish enrich your “actions” with some sacred soul connection.

Meditate, Read, Listen, Watch, Love, Be in Nature, Learn, Share from Your Heart, Give, Hold Space, Play, Self-Sooth, Become Honest and Open.

Heal your Soul.

Even if you are not losers, bored or messed up 😀

For people living in Cork, there is an opportunity for soul healing through Systemic Work on the 28th of June 2017, you can find out on “The Well-Being Club” Meetup Community page.





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