Many people in the United States of America spend their lives chasing what they perceive to be the American Dream. Unfortunately, many people end up feeling disappointed and insecure, even after spending years chasing it. This is because there is no one specific definition of the American Dream. Even if you have a house, 2.5 perfect and healthy children, a white picket fence, and a garage, there will always be something that you feel like you do not have. Trying to keep up with the Jones’ is bad for your mental and physical health in the long run. Here are 8 reasons that you shouldn’t chase the American dream and should chase your own personal goals and personal happiness instead.
“I have spent my life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.”– Bruce Springsteen
Reason No. 1: The American Dream is Ever Changing
The American Dream in the 1950s and 60s was entirely different than it is today. Women still had largely limited rights and responsibilities. Past generations would have difficulty adapting to the amount of financial teamwork required to run many households today. Social norms have also moved forward. An older vision of the American Dream will not account for open-mindedness or acceptance toward people who are different.
Reason No. 2: Your Goals Should Be Personal
The concept of The American Dream is impersonal. It suggests that people should all be the same in many ways in order to encourage compliance and agreement. It leaves little room for personal goal setting between work responsibilities, family life, faith, exercise, home care, and other areas of life. If you stop chasing the American Dream and start focusing on your own goals instead, you just might feel more personally fulfilled.
Reason No. 3: Many People Think the American Dream is Dead
During recent election seasons, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were quoted as saying that the American Dream has largely become dead and nightmarish. According to the CDC, 40% of adults in the United States reported struggles with mental health and/or substance abuse. In the past few years, unemployment has spiked as high as 15-16%. In a country where nearly half of people are unable to cope with life or make ends meet, it is hard to believe in a nationalistic dream.
Reason No. 4: There Is No Clear Definition of the American Dream
Chasing an unattainable goal is like chasing a magic dragon. You will never catch it if you are always focused on how close to you it is. Because there is no clear definition of the American Dream, it can be easy to see it as an unattainable goal. If you do not know what you are even striving for, then it is highly unlikely that you will become successful in the long term.
Reason No. 5: You Might Not Be Happy Even Once You Get It
Before chasing the American Dream, it is important to ask yourself, “Is this even what I want to do with my life?” Some people prefer to spend their lives traveling the world, helping others, or creating art. There is no wrong way to live as long as you are happy, fulfilled, and treating others with respect. Instead of looking towards what makes others happy, ask yourself what makes you happy and chase that instead. If you want to learn to play guitar during high school instead of joining the football team, chase that goal so that you can be happy. Cookie cutter and one size fits all plans for happiness leave no room for personality and individuality.
Reason No. 6: Your Dreams and Aspirations Matter
No matter how small or insignificant they may seem, your personal dreams and aspirations matter. If you do not want a brick house with a white picket fence, there is no reason to feel guilty or insecure. Instead of chasing “the” American Dream, chase your own American dream. You may want to tour the country in an RV or see the world’s largest tree. These dreams and aspirations matter and achieving them can bring you true happiness.
Reason No. 7: Comparing Yourself to Others Can Be Toxic
If you chase the American dream, it is likely that you will end up comparing yourself to others almost constantly. If another family appears to be more secure or well off than your own, you may try to overcompensate in other ways instead of focusing on your own home.
Reason No. 8: Chasing Too Big of a Goal Can Prevent You From Appreciating What You Have
It is important to face life with gratitude in order to live in a happy and fulfilling manner. While chasing any goal, it is important to also take a step back sometimes and appreciate what you do have. Take the time to appreciate your health, your family, and your accomplishments before thinking about what you might lack.
“For many, the American Dream has become a nightmare”– Bernie Sanders
You shouldn’t chase the American dream- not anymore. Instead focus on your personal happiness and achieving the goals that matter to you most. You will be a much happier and more fulfilled member of society. Trust yourself and follow your own intuition!