Changing My American Dream

The American Dream: A big house in the ‘burbs, nice cars, in-style clothes and furniture, exotic vacations… You know what I am talking about - the “thing” everyone is striving for. The goal we have to attain. The constant, yet elusive carrot-on-the-stick that we feel we need to reach.

Yep. That American Dream. I had one too, but I changed it last year and I am so much happier for it.

Ironically, if you google “The American Dream”, the definition that pops up is as follows:

the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity
to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, 
determination, and initiative.

This I have not given up on; this I strive for. It is the lake house, and all the trappings that I gave up. What happened? I discovered simple life and minimalism.

Minimalist is probably not how I would describe myself. That is until you really start reading what minimalism can be today, and the Minimalists say it best:

What is minimalism? If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, 
we would say, Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess 
in favor of focusing on what’s important
—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Yes, this past year, I have been striving to rid my life of excess in favor of focusing on what is important and it turns out, that house on the lake is just not what I want. Late last summer we finally agreed to sell our boat. It was either that or buy a house on the water so we would use it more. Yes, that seems silly, to buy a house just to use a boat, but there it is.

I began looking at listings for homes on lakes within 45 minutes of where I work, and I found they would either cost too much in mortgage and upkeep, or they were so uncomfortable looking that we would have to completely remodel them - a huge headache and expense. Not to mention the increased commute each day.

In comparison to how I feel living in our current home, which is a very comfortable feeling, they just didn’t cut it. I have come to the realization this past year that we have enough, and my quest has turned towards making our life more simple and easier. I love being at peace and I can do that right here.

Changing my American Dream meant re-evaluating my goals in life and working towards new ones. Here are some steps you can take to do this:

What makes you happy now?

Define what truly makes you happy and structure your life around those things. It may take time to sort this out, and a few trials and errors, but you should be able to find what adds value to your life. In this list, include people who make you happy so that you find ways to include them in your life. After making this list, how many items on the list were “things” such as a big house, fancy jewelry or luxury cars? I admit that I love driving my pickup truck, but it was a well-planned purchase that fit into our overall plan. Moving towards the realization that you have enough, and can be happy with what you have, is liberating.

What detracts from your happiness?

These are things you want to eliminate. Debt, a constant struggle to pay the bills, working your butt off just to survive, or not spending enough time with people or on things you enjoy. These detract from happiness, and your goals should align with reducing these as you increase the previous list of things that make you happy. Most things that detract from our happiness cause us stress, and stress can physically harm our bodies and our minds. Make some plans, and chart out small steps to remove these things from your life.

How do you spend your time?

Maybe you have reduced that list of things that detract from your happiness, but is your time well spent? Do you derive pleasure and satisfaction from the things you do? Or, do you have a lot of time-wasters? Do you take the steps to do the things on your bucket list? Set a few of them as your goals now, not in the future as you keep saying “Some day”. Spending even little bits of time doing something you love can improve your mood and allow you to find larger pockets of time to do them.

In the end, it was truly life changing for me to go through these steps and change my American Dream. My new dream is peacefulness, and like the original definition of the American Dream, I am willing to work hard for this success.

Image Source @morguefile


  1. Good luck!and god bless America!i know that even Russian women want to move in America! i read it here!i think its true because America is the best country in the world!


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