THE AMERICAN DREAM: LIFE, LIBERTY, PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
What exactly is this “American Dream” that seems to stand the test of time? It sounds like a myth, a cheap ploy to trick foreigners into flocking to America in search of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But many today say it still exists, that it’s a real thing as tangible as the $100 bill – because it is.
Writer James Truslow Adam, in his book The Epic of America, written in 1931, said:
The American Dream is one “of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. ... It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position”.
Adam’s description of the American Dream provides insights as to why so many foreigners have immigrated to the United States since the beginning of the country’s history, from the time of English, Spanish, and French colonization to the America of today in the 21st century. They came searching for a better life, and many found it – but not without hard work, the execution of good ideas, and luck.
Take a look at people like actor-comedian Jim Carrey, a Canadian by birth. He grew up in a poor, struggling family. For a time the family was homeless, forcing Carrey to drop out of high school at a young age to help support the family. Years later when as an adult he began making a name for himself on the comedy circuit, Carrey then moved to the United States where we would go on standup comedy tours, finally becoming a multi-millionaire through starring in blockbuster films like Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty.
It is well documented that Carrey – an adamant believer in the Law of Attraction – would ride his car along the Hollywood Hills imagining he lived there, that he was to be among the rich and famous celebrities. At one time he even wrote a check to himself, when he was a young struggling actor, for $10 million. And sure enough, in 1994, at the age of 32, he was paid $10 million for his work on the hit film Dumb & Dumber.
Does Carrey exemplify the American Dream? Absolutely! He was a foreigner who came from nothing, then sought a better life for himself in America – and he found it, but not without a lot of discipline, talent, diligence, a hope that borders on stupidity, luck, and a positive, focused mentality. He epitomizes the American Dream.
The American Dream goes back, way back to the Declaration of Independence that held certain “truths to be self-evident: that all Men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights such as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The mere foundation of this great – though often troubled – country is built upon the quest for a better life. Of course, people can find wealth and happiness in other countries, but many people all around the world associate America with opportunity, freedom, and success. Unfortunately, the American Dream can also be seen as one pursuing material prosperity: big, fancy cars, gigantic mansions and designer clothes, while others see it as not so much on the financial increase, but a good, healthy fulfilling life. When pursuing the American Dream, whatever that means, people need to first be honest with themselves about what they think the “American Dream” means to them. That’s the beauty of living in America: people can find a better life in whatever ways they imagine it to be.