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Examples Of The American Dream – Something Uplifting, Materialistic, Unreachable?

Several decades ago most of us had a positive viewpoint of The American Dream. Today there are several differing viewpoints of The American Dream to include it being: our national ethos, all about materialism, our constitutional right, or an unreachable goal. See below for examples of the American Dream and our many viewpoints.

Examples of What Americans Say About The American Dream

According to a 2017 Pew Research Survey, most Americans say they have achieved the “American dream” or are on their way to achieving it. Further, only about one-in-five (17%) say the American dream is “out of reach”. Another surprise from this survey was that just 11% of the public – say “being wealthy” is essential to their happiness. By contrast, the majority said “freedom of choice in how to live” (77%), having a good family life (70%) and retiring comfortably (60%) are essential to their view of the American dream. For more information see Pew Research’s Most Think the American Dream is Within Reach.

Different Examples of The American Dream Bring Differing Opinions.

Examples of the American Dream
The American Dream

Specific examples of The American Dream can have both negative and positive connotations. So why so many different viewpoints of The American Dream? It really depends on your outlook on life. First, let’s look at the following definition of The American Dream:

a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful.” 


So the problem with the American Dream definition is that we all have different opinions of what “a happy way of living” is. For example, some of us may be materialistic and some of us may be focused on sustainability. Thus, it is easy for us to have different opinions of the American Dream. Also, part of the definition of the American Dream is that”anyone” can achieve The American Dream. In this case, many of us are not sure or are in disagreement that anyone can achieve the American Dream. To illustrate, see 4 viewpoints of the American Dream.

1. A National Ethos And The Traditional Viewpoint Of The American Dream.

The American Dream is a set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success. The American Dream also includes the promise of upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. The term “American Dream” was coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931, saying that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. See Wikipedia for more on the American Dream.

2. Materialistic Example of The American Dream.

Here The American Dream is thought to be a good job or ability to own their own business, a nice house, two children, and plenty of money. See Merriam-Webster’s definition of The American Dream. To some, if not many Americans, this is the “Dream“. For other Americans that may be more spiritual and minimalistic, this is not the “Dream“. Also, see Unvarnished Facts’ Consumption Culture – 4 Enablers That Make It Tempting And Popular for more on consumer culture.

3. U.S. Constitutional Example of the American Dream. 

The origins of The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence. It proclaims that “all men are created equal” with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Here the key words are equal and free (liberty). America provides opportunity for all of us to be free and equal. See Unvarnished Facts’ What Does The Pursuit Of Happiness Mean In The Constitution? for more on what the U.S. Constitution says about happiness.

4. A Pessimistic Example of the American Dream.

Some of us may say that the American Dream is unreachable. Indeed, it sets too high of a goal that does not match reality. Further, the “Dream” cannot be met for many because of income inequality.  For instance, people cannot afford a house and thus must have a landlord that “lords” over them. Further, they have no opportunity to own a business and be their own boss. As a result, true freedom and equality is not attainable for many. See Investopedia’s American Dream for more discussion.

Inspiring Examples of the American Dream.

Despite the challenges of unfortunate circumstances, there are still many examples of people achieving the American Dream. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr., in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963) rooted the civil rights movement in the African-American quest for the American Dream. Also, see The Street’s 10 People Living the American Dream (Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Carnegie, Jay-Z, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tyler Perry, and so on). Unquestionably, this article just a few of many examples of people whose poor and troubled pasts did not hold them back from the American Dream. Also, see Wikipedia for more on the American Dream.

See Prosperity – What Is It? How To Measure It? for more viewpoints on the American Dream and prosperity.

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