- The American Dream is the belief that anyone can achieve success in the United States through hard work and sacrifice.
- James Truslow Adams, an American writer and historian, popularized the term “American Dream” in 1931.
- According to a 2014 CNNMoney poll, the younger generation (18-34) finds the American Dream unattainable – even impossible.
What is the American Dream?
The way we handle money today has changed significantly from the way our grandparents and parents dealt with it. In today’s age, how do you achieve the American Dream? The answer depends on your definition. According to what our grandparents and parents told us, it was:
- A secure job until retirement
- Being debt-free
- Owning the ideal home
- Retiring comfortably
Our definition of the American Dream has changed over the past 50 years. In fact, the 2014 CNNMoney’s American Dream Poll states that young adults (age 18 to 34) feel the American Dream is unattainable, with 63% of the respondents saying “it is impossible.”
The Dream can mean something different to every American citizen. Generally speaking, it is the belief that anyone regardless of race or status can be successful in a society where upward mobility is possible. It is achieved not by luck, but through sacrifice and hard work. The ideals of the American Dream also guarantee that a person’s birthplace – regardless of whether they were immigrants or born as American citizens – does not determine their future.
History of the American Dream
James Truslow Adams, an American author and historian, coined the phrase “American Dream.” The phrase is found in his best-selling 1931 book “Epic of America.” Adams described this belief as “the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” (Adams, 1931)
Adams took a lot of his inspiration for the American Dream from our Founding Fathers. You’ve heard of the Declaration of Independence, right? It was written in 1776, nearly 150 years before Adams’ book. It says “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The American Dream is an ideal of opportunity, equality, and freedom for all. It gives the right to make decisions that affect your life, whether large or small. It’s the freedom to strive for bigger and better things and the hope of fulfilling them.
The American Dream today
As the economy changes, the younger generation is preparing to change how they distinguish the many opportunities they have in front of them. In today’s world, Millennials and the younger generations are reimagining the concept of the American Dream. Not only does it not include buying a house in the suburbs and having a well-paying job. Instead, it targets on getting rid of worries rather than providing comforts.
Today’s American Dream is getting a college education with little to zero student debt, having a job that comes with benefits, being able to afford healthcare, saving up for retirement and traveling abroad. The American Dream still endures, but it has changed dramatically since the early 20th century.
Investing in the American Dream
One of the ways people of all ages can achieve prosperity in American society is by investing in the stock market. The earlier you start, the more time you have to ride out the highs and lows. Stock investment is just one of the many opportunities to help you achieve the American Dream. Investing, if done smartly, little by little, over a long time horizon, can help you achieve your version of the American Dream.
The American Dream is what it says, a dream. It’s the goals you establish for yourself. The things you want for yourself and your future. While many young Americans have lost faith in the idea of the American Dream, but America is still the land where everyone has an opportunity to reach their aspirations. This dream evolves as its people change, and it continues to inspire all Americans.