Guest Post: ‘Why I choose not to chase the “American Dream”’ by Brittany Maria

Brittany Maria from Simply Travel writes about her point of view:

‘The “American Dream” is a dream that many people aspire to achieve. This “dream” claims that happiness comes from buying and owning more things (and the latest versions of these things) and consuming more in general. Success is achieved by accumulating wealth and climbing the corporate ladder to earn status in your career.

When you start climbing the corporate ladder and gaining status in your career, you will inevitably start to earn more money. But with more money, comes the desire to spend more on things you don’t really need. You will end up enjoying living a luxurious life, and start working more hours in order to earn more money to pay for your expensive tastes and lifestyle. But through doing all of this, you are losing one of the most valuable things that you have – and that is your time.

If the “American Dream” is the ideal life that you are striving to reach, you will likely be disappointed when you realise that it fails to offer what it promises (ie. happiness and a stress-free life). Accumulating more “stuff” and more money creates more stress in your life, because now you will have the responsibility to maintain, organize, repair, research, shop and pay for all of these things you are buying. Buying the best of everything translates to car payments, mortgages and credit card debt. Owning more stuff means that your life will become more cluttered and physical clutter can be overwhelming and stressful. In addition, you will worry about protecting your money, where to invest it, etc. With all of this, comes less time and freedom.

the american dream
photo from thesimplytravelblog.wordpress.com
Striving to achieve the “American Dream” is a vicious and never-ending cycle that will never bring lasting and true happiness. It may bring you short-lived happiness but you will constantly be seeking to maintain that feeling and will purchase more and more to maintain that “high.” This is not truly living. The more things you own, the more your things own you. We become trapped and enslaved to our stuff and our things weigh us down (physically and mentally). Having more money, more power, more prestige and more status in our lives, does not make us happier. In fact, this lifestyle will create more stress and busyness in our lives and will increase our desire to keep up with the Joneses.  It’s a trap.

I have fallen into this trap myself. I used to spend a lot of money shopping for new clothes, shoes, handbags, makeup, body products, and electronics that I didn’t need at all. I had enough but I continued to desire more and more. I was always pursuing more financial wealth. Shopping for new things gave me a temporary “high” but I came to realise that it is very short lived. I continue to enjoy seeing my bank account grow, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is not a measure of success and happiness. We have to resist the pull of this trap, because these things are not the key to long-lasting happiness. I don’t ever want to make a large salary. When we have more money, we tend to spend more money, and I am scared that I would fall deeper into that trap of desiring better and more things and never be able to break free.

Since discovering minimalism a year ago and continually simplifying my life, I now have no desire to wear the latest fashion trends; to own the newest electronic gadgets; to drive a nice new car; or to take a mortgage out on a large house. I have realised that I don’t need these things and they would only add clutter to my simplified life.

A minimalist lifestyle is so freeing and empowering. It is freeing to realise that you have enough and don’t need to keep adding more. It is freeing to realise how little you truly need to survive. It is empowering to know that you are able to live with less and reject the messages of society telling us that we need to buy specific products in order to make us happier. You will come to understand that buying a new vehicle won’t add adventure and beautiful wilderness scenery to your life. You will understand that purchasing those beauty products won’t make you more beautiful or increase your worth (Beauty comes from the inside and from being the most authentic version of yourself). You will understand that buying more things will never bring you long-lasting happiness, like the commercials so often portray and want us to believe. Happiness can only come from the inside.

Through simplifying my life and decluttering my possessions, I have come to realise that long-lasting happiness and freedom come from living with less, desiring less, and being grateful for what you have in life, not through buying more stuff. I believe that the best things in life are not things. The most important things in life are relationships and connecting with others, contributing beyond yourself, personal growth, pursuing your passions and doing what brings you happiness. A minimalist life is about enjoying the simple pleasures. My goal is always to further simplify my life; to consume less and to make more intentional and conscious decisions about what I do choose to consume and purchase.

What appeals to me, and what I desire far more than accumulating more money and possessions, is exploring and discovering the beauty of our world. I want to venture into the unknown, meet people and connect with people from all over the world, immerse myself in and learn about many different cultures and languages, get off the beaten path and discover hidden gems that only the locals of a place know about, have authentic cultural experiences by traveling like a local, challenge my perspectives and learn to appreciate other viewpoints, outlooks and ways of living, debunk negative stereotypes and perceptions that our society perpetuates about certain places, people and cultures by exploring these places, grow and learn more about myself, and discover my passions and purpose.

I believe that traveling, exploring and learning about our world, its cultures, people and languages, is a more valuable and worthy pursuit than that of wealth, financial security, nicer possessions, status and the traditional definition of success.

I am not saying that we should abandon the notion of working hard to make money. We all need to earn an income in some way in order to purchase the necessities of life, like food, clothing and shelter. However, I think that what we choose to do for work should be aligned with our passions and values, in order for our work to feel meaningful and to give us a sense of purpose.

But I do believe that the pursuit of wealth, status along with more and better possessions should not be our primary pursuit and goal of our work. Our work should inspire us, encourage us to grow and learn, and provide us with purpose and meaning. We should love what we do.

The “American Dream” would consider you successful when you have accumulated a good amount of wealth and have climbed the corporate ladder to earn status in your career. But this is not the only way to define success. My definition of success is experiencing and exploring more while discovering the benefits of simplifying your life and living with less. I believe that success is living a life filled with purpose and passion. It is doing more of what you love and focusing on what makes you happy.

Note: I still buy things, but only what I need and when I need it. In general, I consume less than I used to and am more thoughtful about what I purchase.

I have come to realise that I would much rather have less money and more time to pursue what I love to do, as opposed to the reverse.”

An extract from the original post by Brittany Maria of Simply Travel.

Brittany Maria Simply Travel
photo from thesimplytravelblog.wordpress.com

For the full version and further reading click here.

Disclaimer: These are the views of thesimplytravelblog.wordpress.com, not the views of travellerhannah.wordpress.com

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