The Hamster Wheel: Are Your Dreams Truly Yours?

ambition redesigned you redesigned Feb 24, 2024
The Hamster Wheel: Unveiling the Illusion of Ambition and Pursuit of More

— Part I — Unveiling the Illusion: Reconsidering Our Pursuit of More

Reflection: all we need to be happy is so little - love, nature, family, a daily purpose…

So who told us we need so much?

As I'm traveling in Peru...I see this in the staff cleaning floors and singing and dancing in my hotel. I'm greeted with a smile, and can't help but smile back.

When I come back home to Toronto or somewhere in the US - San Francisco or Los Angeles...already landing in the airport, there is SUCH a different energy. 

Does it take a lot of energy to smile?

Or "as within...so without" - the idea that our external reality is a reflection of our internal state or mindset.

Yet in the "West", we grow up in an "artificial society" that tells us we need so much.

Why artificial?

Every day I go outside...or even when I just sit at home...

I feel like a walking ATM. In a game, paying with my Monopoly money. 

All of the rules and the current system we work and live in is all man-made. Look back, historically, if you were born in a different time, you would be playing by some other rules like bartering. 

Yet what we know now, we accept as the only truth.

We grow up thinking we need everything...reads a list of materialistic things.

And to get what we think we "need" we are conditioned to overwork.

It starts young too!

Kids don’t need half of the things they see in commercials and on YouTube. Yet they are taught to sprint towards that next "milestone" from graduation to graduation. Just look at our school system. Where is the creative play, the freedom of thought and time?

As soon as we’re born we don’t belong to ourselves. We belong to a system, that raises us to be a certain way.

Once a milestone is achieved....there is always more.

The bar just moves up. 

First, our teachers and parents tell us - more, more, more. And then we grow up with the same voice in our minds.

Yet as we achieve are we happier?

Or do we just ask, where has the time gone?

Who is truly benefiting? From this mindset you embody and your drive.

This conditioning for more created a treadmill that we are bound to get lost on at some point in our lives.

If everyone is on it - it’s hard to get out. Running faster and faster.

The more you are on this treadmill, the more money becomes the carrot. It's hard to take a step back and see money as just a form of energy - one type of energy exchange.

The more it’s about the shiny object in front of you. We become pleasure-seeking junkies looking for our next dopamine shot. Yet there are always consequences. The more we step in this direction…The more the soul depletes. The more emptiness and sadness set in.

Steps are choices. Each step is what we give our energy and attention to.

Ask yourself...

"Is the step making you sicker or healthier?"

"Is it making you emptier or fuller?"

"Who is it feeding - your higher self or the ego?"

The wheels turn with every step you take. When will you get off?

— Part II — Ambition Redefined: Reflecting on Motivations

I look at my past. Every choice I made. Everything I achieved. I see the world and the system so clearly now. Floating above it.

All I can do is ask…

Is my ambition a product of myself; or societal conditioning?

Why do I do what I do? Why do I want what I want?

The only answer is to distinguish between different types of ambition.

To look at desires and ask what the motivation is…

And ask yourself if your desire is coming from a "motivation" or an "inspiration". (more on the difference later…)

  • Is it ambition for self-growth - books, creating from inspiration, spiritual development?
  • Is the ambition to serve? Build better systems for the world, contribute to a cause greater than yourself, and provide for your family.
  • Or is the ambition of a different kind? For the endless material things, the hedonistic way of life, or things we don’t even know why we want?

Even as an entrepreneur this rings true.

Even the businesses we put our energy into are driven by different ambitions.

It’s beautiful to create. It’s even better to get back the energy you put in return. Even if the "energy" is in the form of money to you, your family, your business.

I’m not saying to do everything for free...and to deem money evil.

I'm not saying to let others take from you endlessly, to live without replenishment or even comforts. 

I’m just saying - ASK WHY!

How does your ambition replenish you back?

So what are you wishing for tonight? And what is the true intent behind your dreams?

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— Part III — Why Does This Matter?

Ambition isn't inherently good or bad—it's how we channel it that matters. Let's strive for a balanced approach to success, one that prioritizes self-awareness, authenticity, and genuine happiness.

Why?

The fastest way into stress, depression, and numbness is endlessly chasing after material possessions or unattainable desires.

When ambition is out of balance. 

You're not giving yourself a chance to be in the present moment. And to ask "Why does anything I do really matter to me?" 

You're just checking things off a list. A list that isn't created by you - but by external forces like society, family, or your boss.

You also don't give yourself a chance to enjoy what you already have. To celebrate and reflect on your past, seeing how far you've come along. 

When you focus on "lack" ...that emptiness can eat you up.

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." - Epicurus

But remember - it's not your fault!!!

I hate when people say "Just be present"..." Just be grateful".

That is damn hard to do.

Here is a better first step...

Acknowledge the system you grew up in.

The system you live in.

The world that conditioned you to think a certain way.

That put "reward" in front of you, gave you a taste, and taught you how to run.

You have to separate yourself, from the system at large. 

Then, you can finally breathe and examine.

Then you can ask "What do I want to run for?"

And make sure, it's something that will bring you joy. That you will truly be grateful for. 

Recap

  • Question motivations: Reflect on whether your ambition stems from societal conditioning or genuine inspiration.
  • Differentiate desires: Distinguish between ambitions for personal growth, serving others, and materialistic pursuits.
  • Count the costConsider the toll of endless striving and the potential emptiness it may lead to.
  • Break the cycle: Explore alternative paths to fulfillment beyond the conventional pursuit of more.

Angelina Fomina

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