April 19, 2013

Re: Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition

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We saw this The Atlantic article published a few days ago, which contrasted a life of relationships and community against one full of ambitions and whether one was better than the other. The part that really stuck out to us was this:
"Relationships and community impose constraints on freedom, binding people to something larger than themselves. The assumption in our culture is that limiting freedom is detrimental to well-being. That is true to a point. Barry Schwartz, a psychological researcher based at Swarthmore College, has done extensive research suggesting that too much freedom -- or a lack of constraints -- is detrimental to human happiness."


"Relationships are meant to constrain," Schwartz told me, "but if you're always on the lookout for better, such constraints are experienced with bitterness and resentment."


Dreher has come to see the virtue of constraints. Reflecting on what he went through when Ruthie was sick, he told me that the secret to the good life is "setting limits and being grateful for what you have. That was what Ruthie did, which is why I think she was so happy, even to the end."

Right up our wheelhouse, is it not? In our position as advocates for strong relationships, we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of this piece. Relationships matter, whether they be business or personal. However, do relationships, by imposing limits, hold one back at the expense of ambition, or vice-versa? Can there be both?

What do you think?