“To Be Happy At Home Is the Ultimate Result of All Ambition…”

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”

— Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No. 68

Agree or disagree?

I was so struck by this observation that it’s one of the epigraphs of Happier at Home.

  • Mad William Flint

    Well, the semantics are off a bit. it’s the “aim” of all ambition perhaps. But it’s certainly not the result.

    • gretchenrubin

      Remember, he was writing in the 1700s. Sometimes the wording is a bit odd.

  • peninith1

    I do agree. When I was unhappy in the early years after my divorce, coming home at evening and shutting the door behind me meant that I was shutting the door on hope and possibility, and enclosing myself in a microcosm of overwhelming responsibility I could not yet manage, loneliness I could not escape, and at times, conflict with my children that broke my heart.

    As long as I believed the solution and answer was somewhere else, what I came home to brought a sense of loneliness, bare competency, and emotional failure.

    Fortunately, I became able to stop looking for ‘home’ somewhere else. As I started to work consciously towards making home better for myself and my kids, I began to feel better. With each improvement I made in our circumstances, the boys clearly responded and felt better about themselves too.

    When they were grown, I made a geographic career move. I could afford a house that was right for me. I consciously chose to stop ‘ascending a career ladder’, and devoted my efforts my interesting and absorbing job until my retirement. I was able to renovate my home, and I take great pleasure in having room for guests and family, a room for my sewing hobby, and a community I love. My ambition truly ended ‘at home,’

    My guess is that people are also ‘happy at home’ who are able to go to bed at night in a safe and secure place that is truly their emotional center, be it a convent, a field station in Antarctica, the sleep compartment behind their semi-trailer cab, or a fire lookout tower. That’s where their hearts’ ambition has led them.

  • Lulu

    Love this quote, beautiful. I interpret it as stating how it would be in an ideal world, a philosophy to aim and strive for. Happiness from work or money are certainly great to have, but happiness at home is the kind that really lasts and gives you the ultimate satisfaction!!

  • Sandi D.

    Wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Johnson. There is nothing as comforting as walking in the door to be greeted by my husband and dog. I first found this quote when reading Sarah Ban Breathnach several years ago and have loved it ever since. To me, it speaks to the underlying reason for doing things in the world. It also reminds me of Mark Twain’s love affair with his home – he spent so much time, attention, and money on his home that he needed extra income to support the habit. And that’s why we have Huckleberry Finn!

  • Gretchen,
    Absolutely. Home is where the good stuff happens. Our most important experiences, thoughts, and people.
    And ultimately anything we pursue is in some way attempting to contribute to our own self satisfaction.
    So we can go home at the end of the day and be content with life.

  • Kat

    I love this quote. Like the other reader, I first read it in Simple Abundance.

    Another favorite is by George Washington, along the lines of “I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” I have both on my facebook page, because that sums me up to a T!

  • MJ

    Thank you for bringing more attention to organ donation, truly the gift of life. Yes, I am signed up to be an organ donor. Yes, we know somebody personally who is in need of a transplant. If you are not a donor, try to meet somebody who has been gifted an organ and see what a difference it makes. The need for organs is far greater than what is available: You can make a difference through this simple act.