Developing Happiness - Foundations Part 1

It’s no secret; we Americans live in an individualistic society. But what does that mean? Technically speaking, this means that we promote our individual goals above the group or society’s. You’ve probably heard the phrase, climb the corporate ladder. It doesn’t so much matter who gets thrown under, so much as in the end you are on top. We don’t like to make it seem like that is the case, but more often than not, our business relationships are built in order to improve our connections, rather than for the purpose of building a meaningful relationship. Well, maybe that is a negative overgeneralization, after all, isn’t this the land of the where “American Dreams” are realized?

The American Dream was first described as "that 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”. However, the American Dream has become the pursuit of material prosperity- people work more hours to get bigger cars, fancier homes, the fruits of prosperity for their families - but have less time to enjoy their prosperity. Bigger, more, better, richer, and more powerfuler, wait the last one wasn’t a word, but hopefully you are getting my drift. Supposedly all of this will bring us a “better and richer and fuller” life.

For much of my life, I’ve been drawn into believing that fulfillment or colloquially otherwise known as happiness would come after I achieved the “American Dream”. I sacrificed the now for the future. In high school, I sacrificed a social life to ultimately attend a ranked university. It wasn’t what my heart desired, but for the sake of believing that acceptance to a ranked university would make me happy in the end, I stuck with it. Then in college, I figured a high GPA and internship experience would land me a stellar prestigious job. Only then would I truly be happy. My heart was never in the right place from the beginning. I didn’t particularly enjoy working forty hours a week and then also carrying a full-time student workload. I couldn’t find the time to maintain a social life. But, I persisted, knowing that it would pay off in the end. Finally when I graduated, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had a job lined up after I graduated. All my peers congratulated me and I thought I was on top of the world. After working for about six months full-time, I now realize that my peers don’t care so much about what firm I work at because I am never around to see them anyways. Now, I’m saving up for a house so I can live the “American Dream” and hopefully after that I’ll be happy.

What’s the problem here? My happiness is dependent on external factors, more specifically material possessions and the need to achieve status. I need to have XXXX to make me complete. If something is missing in this picture perfect world of mine, then my world crumbles. What I must do is build my inner well-being and not depend on external factors. I must change my outlook on life.

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