We recently came across an article in OnBeing that is full of uncommon sense. Author Courtney E. Martin is encouraging people to redefine The American Dream, given that the “new better off” for the next generation can no longer be defined in solely economic terms. She boldly challenges the way we, as a country, have defined a life well lived and invites her readers to think critically about that definition.
For Courtney, a life well lived means that men and women share the responsibilities of both work and caregiving, and families and communities come together to connect and support one another. Her argument is that a life well lived is a full life as opposed to a wealthy life. It’s about embracing a range of skills and passions, finding joy and wisdom in both career and caretaking, and finding meaning in connection beyond the confines of a white picket fence.
Her message invites us to reconsider how we define success in our lives and to be conscious in the decisions we make, asking not “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, but rather “How do you want to be when you grow up?”.
The TED Talk message she leaves listeners with is this:
“Turns out, the biggest danger is not failing to achieve the American Dream. The biggest danger is achieving a dream that you don’t actually believe in. So don’t do that. Do the harder, more interesting thing, which is to compose a life where what you do every single day, the people you give your best love and ingenuity and energy to, aligns as closely as possible with what you believe. That, not something as mundane as making money, is a tribute to your ancestors. That is the beautiful struggle.”
Read Courtney’s full article or listen to her TED Talk here.