Part of embracing a life of minimalism, simplicity and living intentional and free is the concept of living without ambition and aspiration. What? Weren’t we taught the opposite since primary school? We should strive for a life of ambition, goals, aspirations right?
I remember seeing and hearing the word ambition all the time when I grew up. It was a word synonymous with the idea of success and “winning” in this world. It’s also a word on just about every girls “wish list” for a life partner as well… “he must have ambition”.
I have come to realize that the reality we are in now isn’t so bad if we let go of the ambition, goals and ideals and just see the present moment as it is. The problem with all of these goals and ambitions is it distracts us. It distracts us from the here and the now. It cultivates a mindset in us from a very young age that always looks ahead into a future time and place when our ambition is realized, our goals achieved, and we will finally have peace, success and freedom.
Do any of the following sound familiar to you:
- If I can only get through this week…
- Only two more weeks until payday
- Only one more month until our vacation
- If Only I can get this increase then…
- Once I finish my studies then..
The destructive mindset of having a goal/ambition removes us completely from the present and ensures we live in a universe that does not exist yet in reality. It exists only in our future idea of what we want it to look like. Essentially we live in a dream world. This removes us from the ability to see love, compassion, beauty and so many other things in the here and the now.
I quote a few passages from a great relevant article I read on I read on Zenhabits and an article on 22Seven:
The idea is not to completely and out cold drop all ambitions, what is suggested is a a loosening of attachment to these ideals and ambitions, a turning to the present to appreciate it and get to know what’s in front of us better. Once you do this, and accept what’s in front of you, you reach a place of peace.
Here’s the key: from this place of peace, you can then take action towards your aspirations … you can find your passionate work, not because you’re so dissatisfied with your current life, but from a place of acceptance with your current life and a desire to do something good for yourself.
Either way, you take action towards your aspiration, but it can be either from a place of dissatisfaction (and wanting to change something crappy) … or a place of acceptance and peace, and wanting to do something good for yourself (or others).
Here’s the method in summary:
- Notice your dissatisfaction.
- Notice your ideals that you’re holding tightly to.
- Loosen your hold on these ideals, and turn to the present moment.
- Really see the present moment with curiosity, find something to appreciate.
- Accept the present moment completely, with love.
From this place of peace, respond, take action. It might be toward an aspiration, or not, but it’s a response from a good place. This method takes a lot of practice, and I’m still not very good at it. I enjoy the practice, though.