Happiness Society: Ambition

Ambition #1: Run the Marathon. Ambition #2: Find this man’s tailor.

Ambition, though only comprised of eight letters, is a word which holds much within it. Many people’s hopes and dreams are founded on ambition, and it is something that everyone has. Even those people who do not seem to have it will do somewhere inside – something as small as simply desiring to live a long and healthy life has ambition as its base.

For me ambition occurs in all parts of my life; the most obvious to people around me is my sporting ambition. At the age of twelve I decided that I was going to run the London Marathon as soon as I was old enough (eighteen) and so in 2009, 2 weeks after my eighteenth birthday, I ran the marathon and managed to raise over three thousand pounds for my chosen charity. Six months of training led to me fulfilling that particular ambition. Some ambitions are not easily performed – pain and endurance may be needed, but ultimately if you keep pushing on through then goals can and will be reached. This year I am cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End: my ambition is not to do it quickly; I don’t want to set a record, I just want to do it to be able to say I have done it and to enjoy doing it. Sometimes one does things simply to enjoy the experience and appreciate all it has to offer. Ambition does not have to have a medal and certificate at the end of it, but just memories, and hopefully good ones.

Ambition most definitely does not have to be sport-related. Whether it is great or small, sporting or related to your love life, when you succeed, there is that thrill that undeniably happy feeling that makes you think “Yes, this is what life is about.” I recently read a quote by Brian Littrell that said “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars”. This is so true. You do never know what is just around the corner and often it is ambition which makes us “go around the corner”.

Over the Christmas holidays I spoke to a 76 year old man, who at the end of our conversation turned to me and said; “make the most of your life, leave no stone unturned, go out there, be yourself, be completely yourself and make sure you are ambitious. Above all ambitious, as you never know where or with whom you will end up. Somebody told me this when I was twelve, and I only took notice of them when I was twenty and sat in a pub drinking my sorrows away. Now I am proud to say I have seen the world, met the most amazing people, saved a life and now as I am told I have months left in which to live I am going to do a skydive, just because I can.”

“Just because I can”. These words left such an imprint on my mind. Ultimately what other reason do you need to have? People ask me why I have done certain things in my life, and I could think of a million reasons, but at the base of them all is the fact that I can, therefore, I do. My New Year’s resolution this year was to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. As cheesy as it sounds, I don’t ever want to look back and regret not doing something.

Now when you sit, stand or stoop reading this you may think that in this hectic time that we call university you don’t have the time realise some huge ambition. You are too busy fulfilling the ambition to get a degree, have a social life and have fun. However this is the perfect time to get more ambitious, whether it is taking up a new sport, doing some sporting adventure, sorting out your love life or reading War and Peace. Being a student is a perfect time to start fulfilling your ambitions, so get out there!

Succeeding in one’s ambitions can be the underlying cause of happiness. To be happy we need to be ambitious, to have a variety of ambitions – some easily obtainable and some requiring that bit more work, and perhaps even a few just beyond our reach that we can strive for.

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