Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ambition Addiction by Benjamin Shalva: When The Need To Win Drives You Crazy

In Ambition Addiction, Benjamin Shalva recognizes that some amount of ambitiousness is healthy, but there are tell-tale signs when your desire to achieve success can turn into a destructive disease.   These touchstones served as good guides for me; in fact, the lessons in this book are such that anyone who sometimes stresses out about the fast pace of 21st century life could benefit from reading it. 

Although a Rabbi by training, Shalva also understands the general psychology behind addiction. (Indeed, Psychology Today recently gave his book a noteworthy review.) One indication of ambition addiction, in Shalva's paradigm, is a reverence for the future and contempt for the present.  Always thinking ahead becomes a persistent dissatisfaction with the way things are now.  This is, in a general sense, the fundamental problem of the human mind: thinking that your real life lies in the future when you will really be living, and that the present moment is just a temporary stop along the way.  Sometimes the temporary stop becomes completely intolerable, or as Shalva says on The One YouFeed Podcast, "like a DMV waiting room."  Ben calls this perfect future when everything is just right, your ANY DAY NOW. The specifics of each person's ANY DAY NOW may differ, but all of them are based  the illusion that once we're there, living perfectly in our ANY DAY NOW, the struggle will be over and won for good.  Of course, the reality is that no one ever escapes their human limitations, and the world moves on the same whether you've been successful or not.   So taking time for gratitude of the present moment and the blessings you do have can be a  powerful tool.  Shalva always compliments his diagnosis of the problem with simple solutions.  Throughout Ambition Addiction, he offers a variety of good exercises to do throughout the day to bring yourself back to the present moment.      


As in his previous book, Spiritual Cross-Training, Shalva crafts a well-written and sophisticated book in Ambition Addiction that does a good job of blending professional expertise, personal experience, and helpful suggestions. For more on Rabbi Benjamin Shalva, check out his book on Amazon or peruse over his own website
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