What Does The American Dream Actually Mean To You?

What does the American Dream actually mean to you?

What does the American Dream actually mean to you?
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.

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10 comments

  1. I’m so over it. I live in NY and at times I feel so overwhelmed to look good and make lots of money and live in expensive apartments, or your life sucks. Once I did a mental check and stopped putting that pressure on myself, a weight lifted off me.

  2. This is why I moved to New Orleans. And I still get crap for it every day that I ‘should’ be following the rat race of events and go go go and that any failure is bc I’m not in New York or La. which I honestly call BS on. Im sure you will find your happy and I’m all for big changes and simpler dreams. Happiness is key! Follow your heart and take risks. It always leads us to where we are supposed to be <3

  3. we watched the documentary “Minimalism” over the weekend and it touched on this idea quite a bit. for us the idea of the American dream has evolved and we’ve decided to take steps to make our version of this dream happen. it means a lot less of the things our society deems as markers of success but honestly we are ok with that. for me personally, I began to feel a big shift in consciousness post-election. I couldn’t continue on living in a closed bubble that lacked diversity, personal happiness and a false sense of security.

  4. I stopped working too much a few years ago, had less money so I sold all my luxury stuff that seemed to me only as ballast.I asked myself I am this person who is working so much to buy this stuff to show other people how much I am working?
    I was unsatisfied. I bought a second hand SUP board and I am leaving the city at fridays with my dog. I collect memories and not stuff. I meet with people, take care for myself and enjoy my life without beeing stressed to take care of – my big home – my car – my luxury stuff, because there isn´t. And now I feel free.
    In germany there is a saying:possession posseses (don´t know if that´s right in english).But that kinda worked for me.
    A good book I read is Bea Johnson: Zero waste home.
    That´s the next goal I am going for.

  5. I can relate totally! sometimes I wish that I could live in the mountains like Heidi, with goats, nature and enjoying the simple gifts of god and nature.

  6. Canadian here. To me, it’s interesting how the American Dream has increasingly become wrapped up in material goods and external signals of wealth and status when its origins came from a very pure place, i.e. the humanistic ideals set out in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. If you’ve ever seen Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, the film makes that point very eloquently—somewhere along the way, many Americans seem to have lost the plot.

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