Without entering into a history lesson, the American Dream is an idea coined by James Truslaw Adams, proceeding the great depression in 1931. In his book The American Dream: A Cultural History, Lawrence R. Samuel states:
For many in both the working class and the middle class, upward mobility has served as the heart and soul of the American Dream, the prospect of “betterment” and to “improve one’s lot” for oneself and one’s children much of what this country is all about. “Work hard, save a little, send the kids to college so they can do better than you did, and retire happily to a warmer climate” has been the script we have all been handed.
When you research the definition of the American Dream, you’ll find keywords such as security, ownership, flexibility, education. All of these are fair ideals. Ideals in which my family has historically valued.
Growing up I was always told that it was critical to get a good education, so you can get a good secure job and buy a house, invest in superannuation with the hope that you can retire at 60 and give your children an even better opportunity to do the same thing essentially.
So being a good boy, that’s what I set out to do. I enrolled in a business degree, I got a traineeship as an accountant and had my eyes set on accumulating wealth so I could buy a house, be comfortable and live “the dream”.
Little did I know that this idea, this dream, did not give much consideration to being present, connecting with others, and being compassionate for animals and the environment. Instead, the focus was always on security for the future.
The American Dream raises many concerns. Sure, there’s a place for hard work. But we risk working 80-hour work weeks and compromising what’s “essential” to create a “secure” future. At what point do we pause and think about our priorities?
Here’s how I define a dream life.
No matter what or who you are, be it a man, a woman, a child, an animal, we are all earthlings seeking the same thing. Peace. Peace brings us joy and love. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. But today, right now, this second. How does one achieve peace? Be grateful for each breath. Be grateful for fresh air and water. Be compassionate to all other earthlings as well as our environment. Seek internal happiness as opposed to looking for external sources. Strive to be unified and whole. Simplicity is the goal.
Imagine what the world looked like if we all pursued this dream?
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