4: A Modern Look at the American Dream

The American Dream is a staple mindset of the Western world and has been for decades – Today we take a quick look at why pursuing it blindly without thought might lead you to feel discontented.


 Hello again and welcome to another episode of the minimal minds podcast. I am your host. My name is Alex and thank you so much for your time and effort that you were deliberately choosing to spend here with me today. Today we’re going to be talking about the american dream what it is and why following it blindly in this day and age Maybe leads to feeling a bit shit.

Then we’re going to take a look at what you can do to change this, as well as changing your perspective. So how do we define the American Dream? Well, according to Wikipedia, the American Dream is defined as a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children.

Achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that all men are created equal, obviously not women, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, there’s a few problems with this idea that I’d like to talk about.

The first one is literally in the wording, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The word pursuit implies that we’re chasing happiness, and implies that we can’t be happy right now, So then we gotta chase. It reinforces the idea that happiness is something that we must find in the future as opposed to finding it in ourselves at this very moment.

And if you look around you, you won’t have to look very hard to find people who have this mentality. The idea of, once I have this new thing, then I’ll be happy. A lot of this is even subconsciously baked into us. Obviously, if you’re listening to this podcast, you know that life doesn’t really work like that.

That new thing will become your new normal in like a week, and then it’s on to the next shiny thing, and it’s rinse and repeat. You’ve probably fallen into this trap yourself. I know I have multiple times. The second issue with the American Dream is that we’re no longer playing the same game as our ancestors were.

The idea of the American Dream was coined in the 1930s but life was fundamentally different back then and achieving that idyllic lifestyle isn’t really as simple for us as it was back then. Let’s go through some examples. So in 1970 the average wage in the US was $6186, give or take. When we adjust that for inflation for 2022 We get 47,244.

That’s all right, it’s pretty reasonable. Now, in 2022, the average US wage comes to around $53,490. So that’s an increase of around 13.2% in the average wage over the past 52 years. Not spectacular, but it’s something. Now, Let’s look at some expenses and how they’ve changed over the same time period. So the average price of a home in 1970 in the US was around 17,000, which is around 129,827 in today’s freedom dollars.

The average price of a home now is 407,000. That’s an increase of 314%. Now that can be quite hard to conceptualize how much of a serious difference that is, so let’s look at it a different way by comparing that figure against time instead. So, if the average person, with the average wage, bought the average house in 1970, and they saved 20% of their income each year.

They’ve managed to pay it off in around 13 years and 9 months. Now, if the average person in 2022 did the exact same thing, it would take them 38 years to pay it off. Look at how two people doing the exact same thing can have such vastly different outcomes. These results are so hugely different, it’s just absurd.

That’s literally just one example. Tuition is even worse, costing roughly $3,000 adjusted for inflation. The average in 2022… just in the US, it was 23,740. That’s an increase of 789%. Now if we magnify this over everything that people buy, you start to see why the American dream isn’t exactly realistic for those people starting out at the bottom, or even a lot of those who already had a head start in life.

Pretty bleak stuff, am I right? This isn’t even specific to the US. We’re seeing the same correlation in many Western countries, especially here in the UK. There’s a few things that we can do individually. We can’t fix the system, but we can change how we approach it. Now the first thing we can do is change our goalposts.

We have to redefine what it means to be successful for ourselves. This is a personal decision, obviously, so spend some time thinking about it and write down for yourself. Maybe you once wanted to own a fancy car. Sure, why not? But why do you actually want to own it? Because that’s the normal idea, right?

That’s what normal people do. That’s a normal sign of success. You can get the same feeling by renting a fancy car for a couple weekends per year, but you save yourself thousands because the car just sits there being unused for 90% of the time anyway. The second thing we can do is to stop the comparisons.

Don’t compare yourself to your friends, to your neighbors, to people online. You’re only going to end up miserable based on two things. Thing number one is that you’re seeing what they want you to see. You don’t see all the bad things in their life. And factor two is that you’re not them and they’re not you.

So you haven’t had all the same upbringing and experiences. They might be a little bit older, might be younger. You’re fundamentally different people, so of course your lives are going to look different. If you’re going to make a comparison, let it be to yourself from yesterday. That’s the only way you’re ever going to make it fair.

Now the third thing we can do is find meaning in the present moment, and stop looking to the future. If you spend all your time daydreaming about what you’re lacking, and how good your life will be once you’ve obtained success, you’re going to miss out on all the good stuff that you’re already surrounded with.

And the fourth thing I suggest you do is practice gratitude for the incremental gains in your life. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably doing alright for yourself in the grand scheme of things. I imagine, I hope, you have a place to sleep and food to eat. Maybe even nice food. Maybe a comfy bed.

Maybe you got hot water. Ooh, what a luxury. These are things that we can all be grateful for. There are things all around us that we look at. and experience every single day, but they become so commonplace that we fail to appreciate them. But if we take the time to write down how they benefit us, maybe we might feel a bit different.

Maybe we’ll feel like we’re doing really well for ourselves. Concentrate on being a little bit better every day in some area of your life. Doesn’t matter where, as long as you do something. Be grateful for your progress, even if there isn’t an end goal in mind. It’s good to know that you’re still rising upwards, even if it’s slow.

You don’t need to move mountains every day, time will take care of it for you. Incremental gains. Magic. Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I hope you enjoyed it, and you weren’t depressed by the state of our planet and the society that we live in. Don’t listen to all the doom and gloom because it’s only gonna pull you down.

Be the change you want to see, you know? Have a wonderful day wherever you are on the globe right now, and if you want to read more you can visit us at theminimalminds.com. If you found value in our content you can leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you want to listen to us. We’ve been having a lot of positive feedback on our song, the Minimal Minds theme song, so I’m going to treat you to an extended outro today just for you.

See you next time.