Why Dream "The American Dream?"

"When you think of the “American Dream” in terms of memories and feelings of community, it truly is something so pure and exciting."

Who created “The American Dream?” It is something many individuals in our country strive for and is embedded throughout popular culture to promote an idealized version of how life should be. It is the ethos of our nation’s mainstream lifestyle. But who actually coined the idea? The concept of the “American Dream” dates to the 1600's of a land where anyone can prosper, an ideal which over a million U.S. military soldiers have sacrificed their lives to preserve.

The need to delve deeper into America’s deeply rooted aspirations lead to the discovery that it was a man named James Truslow Adams. Adams coined the phrase in his 1931 bestseller, The Epic of America. “A dream of a better, richer, and happier life for all citizens of every rank,” he described.

Since its advent, the “American Dream” has been heavily marketed by advertisers, real estate agencies, and investment bankers to sell the feeling that a person can “be more” than who they currently are.

While the notion of the “American Dream” can be unfair and politicized, I like to think of it in terms in which most people can relate.

For me, it is hazy summer afternoons spent at the ballpark, when the dog days of the season have just begun to creep in. It is the night my two-year-old son witnessed 4th of July fireworks for the first time at the Maplewood, NJ Fair. It is the smell of a freshly cut lawn. It is the Macy’s Day parade playing in the background while the smell of stuffing permeates through the kitchen doors. It is a pink neon sign and 1:00a.m. diner French fries with my tribe of squealing girlfriends. It is driving around one’s hometown on a fall Friday night, with open windows giving way to the crisp, back-to-school air.

When you think of the “American Dream” in terms of memories and feelings of community, it truly is something so pure and exciting.

My husband and I just finished watching the 2011 WWII miniseries, The Pacific, and I realized that what these young men were fighting for were these exact moments; even when the days grew dark and hopelessness set in. Memories like this fueled their return home and set in motion the decades of inspiration, creativity, human rights, ambition, and fortitude.

As life is made up of individual flashes in time, which memories make you feel “The American Dream?”

Inspiration of the Day: "The '20s ended in an era of extravagance, sort of like the one we're in now. There was a big crash, but then the country picked itself up again, and we had some great years. Those were the days when American believed in itself. I was happy and proud to be painting it."

-Norman Rockwell

(Wills, Matthew. “James Truslow Adams: Dreaming up the American Dream.” JSTOR Daily. 18 May 2015.

Shannon Slack helps her clients craft irresistible resumes and establish career paths. For more tips or if you would like to work with me click below:

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