If you were asked what the American Dream is, what would you say? Take a minute and feel free to leave a comment on what you answered!
Up until about 6 months ago, if you were to ask me, I would have jokingly responded with “buying your own home.” I say jokingly because many people (including myself) have a tendency to respond with humor when they aren’t sure of an answer. It leaves an escape hatch in case we find out we gave the wrong answer…just kidding.
When you pause and give some dedicated thought to the American Dream, you realize that it is one of, if not the most underappreciated inheritances we have as Americans. I believe that if we recognize the significance of what we have been given in the American Dream, we can continuously improve our lives, our communities, our nation, and our world. But how do we do that?
1. Know What It Is
The American Dream has gone through a pretty wide variety of interpretations over the years. Unfortunately, to most people the American Dream has been significantly derailed from its original ethos. Lawrence Samuel in his book “The American Dream: A Cultural History” captures the mentality of the vast majority of Americans today. He says:
“Work hard, save a little, send the kids to college so they can do better than you did and retire happily to a warmer climate.”
When I first read that I thought, “Yeah, that is the American Dream.” However, then I thought about our founding fathers, the wars America has endured, and the millions of men and women that have given EVERYTHING for us to have the American Dream. People suffered excruciating conditions and death for me to have the American Dream. Is Lawrence Samuels description above something you would be willing to die for?
Surely there must be more to the American Dream if it caused our founding fathers to commit treason and face death. It would take a lot more than a promised life of working hard for 40+ years to save a little and finally retire to inspire a nation of people to challenge the greatest power in the world at that time. My summary of the American Dream that founded our incredible nation is this:
“The American Dream is a field of fertile soil where you reap that which you sow.”
There is so much beauty behind that statement. We live in the richest country man has ever known with abundance and opportunity everywhere you look. The only limits we have are the limits we place on ourselves. That is a dream worth giving the ultimate sacrifice for. And guess what, millions of men and women have done just that for us to have the American Dream. Honor them!
2. Start Dreaming
I wish I had a nickel for everytime I heard someone say, “I’m just being realistic.” Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for realism but I believe we fall back to it too regularly without thinking. That’s the problem…people don’t think.
When people think, they start dreaming. When they start dreaming, their subconscious kicks in to find opportunities to make the dreams real. Next, will power must take over to act on the opportunities to fulfill your dream.
No one quite knows how to explain why your thoughts can influence reality but the knowledge has been around since the earliest days of philosophy. And of all the debated philosophical topics, this is one that all agree on. You can even find it in the Bible. Proverbs 4:23:
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
We tend to put more value on complex ideas even though nature’s beauty often can be represented in simple equations (e=mc^2). It really is that simple – you are what you think.
If you don’t think that’s right…well…then it won’t be right….but will be right at the same time…now there’s a paradox!
3. Become Rich By Enriching Others
Zig Ziglar was a phenomenal man who liked to say:
“In order to get what you want, you need to first help other people get what they want.”
Once you have discovered your dream life, you’ll begin to notice blaring opportunities to help people. It’s important that when you recognize these moments, you step up and help. Always remember, you reap what you sow.
If your dream life is to be financially free, then help others become financially free. If your dream life is to travel the world, help others travel the world. Do not underestimate the truth behind Zig Ziglar’s statement. People in our world are rewarded for what they do. However, they are rewarded exponentially for what they enable others to do!
4. Take Action. Now!
When you fully realize the power restated in Proverbs above, then you will soon see the mastery of your subconscious in identifying paths to your dream. You will see opportunities that will come about almost as a sixth sense, like a light bulb turning on. It is at this point where all you need to do is ACT! Dive full in to the opportunity knowing that your life is shaped by your thoughts. Procrastination is a subtle but powerful force. Do not wait till tomorrow or next week to start. Take one step NOW. See it in your mind’s eye succeeding, and your brain will take over making it so!
5. Never Forget The Incredible Price Paid for the American Dream
One thing that truly breaks my heart is knowing that most people go about their lives without reflecting on what the brave men and women had to go through for us to live like we do. Patriots have given their lives for us to live ours. Honor them by keeping them in the forefront of our mind and living to the fullest extent possible. They died for us to live our dream. We need to live for those that no longer live!
- When you eat at a restaurant, think of those eating Meals Ready to Eat (MRE).
- When you drive your car, think of those driving through mine fields.
- When you are with your family, think of those video chatting to see their child they’ve never met before.
- When you go to sleep at night, think of those awake standing guard.
When you see the famous image of the majestic flag raising at the Battle of Iwo Jima, remember how heavy that flag was to raise. It holds the weight of millions of dead men and women that fought to keep it flying. And, remember that it isn’t the wind that keeps the flag held out…it is the last breaths of those that died for it!