The definition of the American Dream is, “the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.” Back in the 50s and 60s, this looked like owning a home, the man having a blue-collar job, starting a family, and basically the whole white-picket fence phenomenon was born.
Along the way, it evolved into bigger homes, bigger jobs—and women’s push for equal jobs—with huge salaries, the perfect family, owning multiple cars, having a vacation home, buying all the newest tech gear, and much more. The American Dream basically grew into an extremely busy, unrealistic version of what it once was. And I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted and even a little warped by it.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel grateful every day to have a roof over my head and food in my fridge, but the pressure that society has on us—that gets morphed into pressure we put on ourselves—is just insane. We’re supposed to want all the things that come with 2017’s version of an American Dream, because in our society, that’s what success and happiness supposedly look like.
But the crazy part is, if I look back at everything I have and everything I’m striving for on auto-pilot, a lot of it isn’t necessarily that important to me.
Is having a career that’s go-go-go really how I want to live? Is constantly being at events making me feel happy? Is living in a crowded city with access to everything making my life more fun? Is having all the technology gadgets actually making life easier? Not really. Most of the time, a combination of those things are what’s making me stressed and the opposite of happy. Not to mention it leaves me with constant anxiety to do more, have more, be more.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the American Dream is, or what MY version of the dream actually looks like. When I think about what is invaluable to me personally—and this is different for everyone—it’s interesting to realize I could have most of those things with a smaller home, in a simpler city, less cars and clothes, and even less of a salary. We’re so wrapped up in a monetary society, but at the end of the day, being happy doesn’t cost a fortune. Yet we’re killing ourselves trying to make one in order to keep up with the Jones’ a.k.a. the American Dream.
Do you agree? If you’re feeling similar, I urge you to take time to see what’s really essential to you—and your family if you have one. At the end of the day, do you NEED everything you think you do? Or is the thought of simpler living on your mind? What’s actually crucial to your personal happiness?
I’m not sure how this will play out for me—maybe a switch in location eventually, something simpler?—but either way, I wanted to open up this topic for conversation. I’ll definitely be sharing future thoughts and diving deeper into this subject shortly.
I’d love to hear how you feel about the American Dream and what it personally means to you. Or, if you have made the change to a simpler life, I’d be so interested in hearing how it feels.