Is it possible to strike a balance between being content and being ambitious? Both are desirable qualities but aren't these mutually exclusive?

I don't see the incompatibility, to be honest. I think you are thinking in terms of results rather than in terms of processes, and I think that those who tend to think in terms of results rather than processes are quite likely to lose most of the value in life that is available to them. Yes, one probably cannot achieve the results of ambition and also not be motivated to pursue those results. But why cannot one be content with a life that is shaped around trying to become better at something?

When I was younger, I was an avid volleyball player. I was always working very hard to become better. Truth is, I was never really tall enough to be really good (I topped at at a meager 5'11''). But I sure enjoyed doing what it took to be the best player I could be. I actually enjoyed practicing with my team even more than the tournaments we played (and I played with a good enough team that we often won at tournaments). Was I content with practicing and working hard to get better. You betcha! Was I also ambitious to become better. Absolutely! So the goal was to get better, and the process was all that practicing--and I was content (until an injury finished me off--sigh!).

Read another response by Nicholas D. Smith
Read another response about Value