The American Dream…I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Everyone wants to start a business, buy a house with a white picket fence, have a family with two kids, and a family dog named Spot. While this might just be an example or representation of the American Dream, I believe the American Dream was originally based on the principles of freedom, equality, opportunity, and pursuit of happiness.
The core belief of the American Dream was that everyone has the freedom to pursue any opportunity in order to achieve success/happiness. Unfortunately, the American Dream has gone through a transformation over the years, and this transformation has turned into a big, BIG problem.
So, what’s the BIG problem with the current American Dream?
Materialism. Plain and simple, our American culture has become too materialistic.
Where the American dream used to be about pursuing goals, dreams, and opportunities to find happiness, it has turned into accumulating more and more stuff. When I look at our country today I see a society obsessed with shopping and purchasing more and more things that we can’t even afford. The new iPhone, a new car, bigger TV, the even bigger house, new clothes, designer handbags, etc. The list could go on and on. We have become obsessed with material objects.
We believe these material things will bring us happiness, but they won’t. The new iPhone will make you excited for a little bit, and you’ll love driving that new car off the lot, watching the game on your 100 inch TV in your big house, with your closet filled with new clothes and fancy purses. But all of this “stuff” only provides you with temporary excitement. These things don’t provide true happiness. Soon the excitement fades and you want more and more stuff.
Ellen Goodman says it best, “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”
What’s even more sad is that we look at what others have with jealousy. We try to “keep up with the Joneses” and measure our personal worth on the material things that we posses.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” -Dave Ramsey
Our consumerism has caused us to be over worked, tired, and frustrated while many of us continue to rack up credit card debt to buy these objects. The average American household with at least one credit card has nearly $15,950 in credit card debt. That doesn’t sound like the American Dream to me.
Somewhere along the way we have forgotten what the American Dream is about. The American Dream isn’t about buying as many things as possible to impress other people. The American Dream is about pursuing happiness and finding true joy, which can’t be found by purchasing material objects. It’s about having a fulfilling and rewarding life, giving back, making a difference, achieving goals, treating each other fairly, celebrating each other’s successes, going after your dreams, helping one another, smiling, laughing, and loving life. That sounds like the American Dream to me. What about you?