The Fallacy of the American Dream
“Sometimes the best way to grow is to subtract.”
In my journey into minimalism and living a more intentional life, I’ve had to remind myself of the above quote many times. I spent the first 30+ years of my life chasing the “American Dream.”
It’s what we’re told to do right? Go to college, get a job, make decent money, get married, buy a house, make more money, buy more stuff, just keep climbing and chasing. Oh the fallacy of the “American Dream.”
The idea that “anybody can make it in the US if they work hard enough” has been a bedrock of American life since the country’s birth. However, data is showing that inequality and economic mobility are highly correlated, and inequality has been on the rise in the US for the last half century.
The US is not some special land of economic opportunity. It’s time Americans realize it. But how? How can we get people to realize that you can live a fulfilled and happy life without chasing the fallacy of the “American Dream?”
Well let’s start with all of our stuff. That’s right, stuff. Things. Items. Clutter.
Journey to Minimalism
I found out about the practice intentional living and began to change my habits after watching the documentary “Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things” by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. The term “minimalism” gets bad rap because people tend to think of it like art. Minimalism in art often colloquially refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials.
So the minimalist home is often thought of as stark white walls, little furniture, no electronics, etc. The minimalist lifestyle is often thought of similarly. Wearing the same clothes, not driving a car, just one of each at the grocery store, only the basics, boring, stale, and it goes on and on.
That’s not the case! I personally feel intentional living is different for everyone. It is essentially bringing balance to the things that matter. This applies to books, clothes, furniture, people, jobs and general clutter. What is important? What matters the most?
Your definition or feeling of intentional living probably won’t happen overnight. Mine didn’t. Heck, it’s actually an on-going journey. It takes time to organize, prioritize and discover what is appropriate. You’ll usually find that once you feel like you have de-cluttered, re-organized and prioritized, more stuff has entered your life and you may start some of those processes again.
Don’t fret however, because you will develop a sense of calm and pride in only keeping the stuff that matters or adds value to your life. These periodic purgings won’t be so daunting when you know the end result is feeling in control and becoming a better version of yourself. Like the quote says, “sometimes the best way to grow is to subtract.”
Where To Begin?
There are a lot of tactics out there to help get you on your way to living a more intentional life. Tactics to help you stop pursing the fallacy of the American dream and focus on what truly matters. I’d also be lying if I tried to provide you with any tips and claim them as my own. The below links are things that worked for my wife Megan and I when we began this journey in 2017.
So What About You?
So what about you? Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by pursuing the fallacy of the “American Dream?” Do you look around and see a bunch of stuff and realize that it isn’t making you any happier and sure as hell doesn’t define who you are as a person?
Get started today. Start freeing yourself from the fallacy of the “American Dream.” It is dumb. It’s comparing yourself to other people which only brings about insecurities. As the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
If you truly want to be the best version of yourself and live an intentional live, than you must realize that the pursuit of greatness isn't about being better than someone else. It's truly about being a better version of you.
How will you live intentionally and become a better version of you?