I heard a piece on NPR this morning and in the commentary about a forum on the middle class someone said that the "American dream is now about stuff."
So often it is, or seems to be, about just that. How big is your house, how many bedrooms, how new is your vehicle, and (even) did you go to the "right" school and do your kids.
I grew up thinking that the American Dream meant if you worked hard you could achieve your goals. But no one talked about what those goals were. For me they never about money and stuff they were bigger. When I was younger they were very much about being sure that your children have access to a better life then you. But what is better?
As I got older I though about it in relation to the Four Freedoms - The freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear... I think a lot people misunderstand freedom from want for freedom from wanting! It is not the BMW, the McMansion, the designer clothes, and elaborate vacations.
We may have a better "quality of life" then our parents, but what does that mean? I may have a Hi-Def flat screen TV (granted it is only 27 inches, how do we do it?!?) but does that help give me a better quality of life then my parents who had a big box color TV with just BASIC CABLE!?!
Quality of life does not come from stuff. It comes from within once the basic needs of life are met, and to be honest a majority of people reading this blog have all their needs of life met. It comes from a deep sense of contentedness and happiness. From joy in small things. From happiness in spending time with your family and in nature.
If I can teach this to our children they will have a better quality of life then we do, then I will have lived the American Dream, regardless of what happens to my 401k or if I can never afford a new vehicle or a designer wardrobe and if they never get to meet Mickey Mouse. If I don't they will never be happy regardless of ho much STUFF they can acquire...
Taking joy in small things is a part of the American Dream we all need to relearn...