This blog post is about the new American dream and my perspective on it. This post is not to demonize the traditional American dream or to tell you there is a “right” or “wrong” way to live your life. There are many different paths up the mountain.
Every decision leads to another. Even the smallest of steps can lead to a big decision in our life. Much of our lives are spent preparing, enduring, and recuperating from changes in our life. Suffering occurs when we resist the inevitable changes in our inner or outer environment. Our dreams change as well. Many achieve celebrity and find out they are even more miserable than before. We must adapt and change with our dreams.
Complacence and stagnation is the easiest route but in the long run, they often lead to disappointing results. Often the more difficult route leads to joy, contentment, and freedom. Freedom, in my opinion, is the most important concept for humanities overall happiness. Freedom is the American Dream. More importantly, freedom is the dream of all sentient beings.
I distinctly remember at 12 or 13 years old learning about the reality of the American dream. At this point in my childhood, I realized that the American dream sounded like a nightmare!! The American dream was not my dream. To work a job I disliked for 40 plus years and buy a house that would take 30 years to pay off sounded horrifying. I couldn’t believe that most people wanted this out of their one life. I wanted something different out of my life; to experience true freedom. But as the years went by, I slowly accepted my fate and forgot about my dreams of freedom. By the time I was 17, I wanted to be a millionaire with a wife and kids by the time I was 30 years old. In retrospect, I just wanted to fit in with societal norms. Societal norms are taught to us at an early age by family, teachers, commercials, tv shows, and movies. They shape our perspective at an early age. We end up accepting these norms to fit in so we don’t feel like an outcast. It’s ingrained in our DNA to want to be accepted so we are cast out of our tribe, which would end in our death. In our modern society, we have the freedom to question all societal norms and seek out like-minded individuals who share similar values.
In the past 3 years, I have questioned much of what I learned as a child/young adult about what success is. Is success having a career, wife, and two kids? Do I want a life blanketed with security or a life flourishing with freedom? Luckily my immediate family did not reinforce societal norms and thus allowed me to have an open mind. It was much easier for me to break out of the societal norms with a supportive and understanding family/friends. The biggest realization I have had was that my true dream is similar to what I enjoyed as a kid. I was mesmerized by maps, globes, and open space; now my dream is to travel and works remotely around the world. In many ways, my journey has allowed me to embrace my inner child. The child who was curious and open to new experiences. The inner child was just suffocated by fear, doubt, and worry.
I value freedom over security. I value love over fear; curiosity over indifference. With a shift of perspective comes a shift in our dreams. New possibilities can bring joy instead of fear. Your American dream is whatever you want it to be. Just remember each decision is ours to make and ours to take responsibility for.
Do you truly want freedom? Whats your dream? What must you let go of for you to live the life you want to live?