Combining Ambition with Gratitude

A grateful person is a person who, at least in a sense, is satisfied with their situation in life. An ambitious person is a person who, at least in a sense, is dissatisfied with their situation in life. So ambition and gratitude are—in some sense—in tension with each other. Yet ironically, feeling either of these emotions without the other leads to unhappiness, whereas feeling them together leads to happiness. Ambition without gratitude manifests as an unquenchable thirst that can never be satisfied, whereas gratitude without ambition produces stagnation, which is inherently depressing for a creative entity such as a human being. But if a man manages to feel both gratitude and ambition—being appreciative of the good things in life while also aware of how life could be better—then he will be well poised for happiness. Like everyone else, he will encounter problems in life, but he will determinedly seek solutions to his problems. If he solves one of them, he will rejoice in having discovered a solution. But he will not allow this feeling of joy to cloud his vision and prevent him from seeing new problems. His ambitious mind will seek further problems, which he will be prepared to try and solve, meaning he might actually solve some of them. And with each new solution will come yet another reason to be grateful.

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