Happiness at the Intersection of Acceptance and Ambition

Authored by: Joan Marques

The Routledge Companion to Happiness at Work

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367266554
eBook ISBN: 9780429294426
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reviews two human characteristics that often seem to be considered polar opposites: ambition and acceptance. It starts out by discussing the common aim that many people claim to have, which is happiness. The chapter subsequently reviews ambition and acceptance as two major triggers that can either disrupt our sense of happiness, or safeguard it over a long period of time. Ambition is described as a critical skill toward progress, with accomplishment, motivation, creative, and critical thinking as some of its major advantages, and lack of focus, as well as workaholism, as some of its most common downsides. The chapter then describes various interpretations of acceptance, such as its incongruence with avoidance and lethargy, its ability to be a constructive opposite to resistance, its value as a management strategy, and its importance as an internal purifier. On the downside, acceptance is described as a possible hurdle toward progress, and as an avoidance strategy, as well as a pacifier. The daily reflection exercise is then presented as a strategy toward establishing balance between ambition and acceptance. The ultimate aim of the chapter is to invite readers to utilize their ambition and their ability to accept in such a way that they become valuable counterparts, of which a balance can lead to a true and lasting “happy medium”.

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