Ahh, the American Dream… and a cure

1960s Family Portrait

A house, a car, or even 2 or 3 cars!

A riding mower.

Stainless steel appliances.

Flat screen TV, Wii gaming system.

Swimming pool, designer landscaping.

Four wheelers, dirt bikes.

Guns, paintball, airsoft.

Boat, jetskis.

Dinner out several times a week.

Karate, baseball.

Cheerleading, softball.

PTA, homework.

Checkups, sick days.

Vacations in high gear.

Portable DVD player, iPad.

Paying bills, balancing checkbook.

High speed DSL, HiDef TV.

Doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom.

Taking care of pets, taking care of parents.

Shopping for Christmas, paying taxes.

Non-stop weekends.

Smart phones, Skype.

X-box 360, Sony Playstation.

Fixing cars, fixing washers.

Painting walls, leaky plumbing.

iTunes, Starbucks.

300 channels, nothing to watch.

Closet full, nothing to wear.

3 laptops, 4 iPods.

100′s of friends, no one to talk to.

3 college degrees, no job to be found.

Great paying job, miserable life.

Waiting for someday to finally come.

Is this what you signed up for? Or is the picture below more what you have in mind?

Life can be ridiculously complicated, if you let it. We fall prey to the American Dream, which has become more of a nightmare. One solution is to simplifyour lives. Many people are considering this by choice or out of economic necessity.

The ideas below come from Leo Babuta at Zen Habits. He does not copyright his writings and I would love to share some of what he says about this subject. He has some great ideas about simplifying life to the important things.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote, which I’ve stolen as this site’s subtitle, is the shortest guide to life you’ll ever need:

“Smile, breath, and go slowly.”

If you live your life by those five words, you’ll do pretty well. For those who need a little more guidance, here are the lessons that Leo has learned (so far) as a few guidelines, or reminders, really. He has quite few links to other posts and resources on his blog.

And as always, these rules are meant to be broken. Life wouldn’t be any fun if they weren’t.

the brief guide

less TV, more reading
less shopping, more outdoors
less clutter, more space
less rush, more slowness
less consuming, more creating
less junk, more real food
less busywork, more impact
less driving, more walking
less noise, more solitude-see my post Can you please turn down the noise?
less focus on the future, more on the present
less work, more play
less worry, more smiles
breathe Also see Calgon, take me away!

What steps have you taken to simplify your life?

If your life is too complicated, if you need some balance, some peace of mind, be sure to subscribe in the upper right corner to be notified of posts and resources!  If you know someone else who could benefit from this Journey to Balance, please share buy clicking below!

Two resource options you may like if you liked this post are:

Zen Habits and Becoming Minimalist



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19 comments to Ahh, the American Dream… and a cure

  • I’ve begun simplifying by getting rid of much of my collection of books I’d gathered over 40 years +. I donated over 500 to my library and gave a bunch to my daughter and her girls (mostly craft related). I was able to put my bead cases in their place so it got rid of some of my overflow. I’ve also been going through my art supplies and giving what I’m just not going to really get to, to my granddaughters. I am also paying my credit card off so I won’t owe anything month to month. I want to do more but actually live a simple life already – just not where I want to which is my biggest problem. Simplifying helps though.

  • Spring is totally the right time to minimize, declutter, and start fresh! Though a lot of those “America Dream” aspects are pretty cool…I want a home for my family, two cars, activities for the kids, etc.

    I love the black and white and then color photography in this post :)

    ~Penelope (I love to write about beauty tips!)

  • I’ve “electronically decluttered” by unsubscribing from many email newsletters that I ultimately don’t read. Begun to seek out solitude and allow myself to “just sit there and listen”. There’s a different perspective from that and it’s nice to slow down.

  • liz

    I don’t know that I’ve taken steps to simplify as opposed to be slow to adopt to new trends. like, I don’t have a smart phone. We don’t have a movie rental subscription. We just got our first gaming system about 2 months ago. The TV can only go on at certain times of the day. Etc.
    liz recently posted..Hey- It&8217s OK WednesdayMy Profile

  • I love this list. It really is a nice way of putting perspecitve on the things in our lives.

    One of the true ways I’ve managed to simplify my life has been to simplify my thoughts. By letting go the little obsessions and worries and over-analysis I’m able to let my mind relax which makes everything else easier to face.

  • In love that picture of the family walking through the woods. They don’t look as haggard as I feel! LOL
    Susan Evans recently posted..Airsoft GunMy Profile

  • Such a great reminder to seek those things that are most important and let the rest go!
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  • Thank you so much for this reminder! I don’t know why it never occurred to me, but when I thought about the “American dream,” I always pictured the ’50s June Cleaver type, but times have changed and the American dream has changed right along with it. Now it looks like expensive excess. Yuck.

    Simplifying is amazing, isn’t it?
    Jennie recently posted..What To Do When You Can’t Do EverythingMy Profile

  • Visiting from Serenity Now :). What great reminders. One thing I’ve been trying to do is simplify our family’s material lives–I tends towards accumulation (and with 6 kids, we do tends towards excess lol). When I deliberately try to pare down, things are much easier to take care of and we have more time to love and appreciate each other. Great post!

    bernicewood Reply:

    It is very hard with kids. It takes intentional effort to keep the belongings down, especially with kids!

  • Awesome post! I just wanted you to know that I wrote out your “brief guide” and put it in my kitchen/dining room (aka command central) so that I could be reminded of it daily!
    Tiffany recently posted..Peter Rabbit Organics Fruit and Veggie Pouches GIVEAWAY!!!My Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Very cool! It is made up of things that we need to remember!
    Hope it helps!

  • I really enjoyed this post! So many of those “American Dream” things I feel like I “need” or have to have to be happy. But, in reality, I am already so blessed. Thanks for the reminder. Featured your post today!! Thank you for linking it up. :)

    bernicewood Reply:

    Each one of those things is something else to be taken care of, not to mention pay for!
    Thanks Amanda!

  • I read The Great Gatsby in high school, and I’ve never shaken the image of the American Dream that that book gave me. Working your tail off for stuff and image is the most depressing thing I have ever heard of.
    Lindsey recently posted..What are you writing for?My Profile

  • Stephanie

    I recently quit my salaried job that required a ton on travel to spend more time pursuing my passion of interior design – I am focusing on helping people find ways to use what they already have to create beautiful functional spaces rather than constantly buying new things to fill up space. At my house, the tv seemed to take over family time with it’s constant noise and visual presence. It has now been moved to a “den” that is out of the way of the living room and kitchen. So far, it has been on less and our home has been much more peaceful!


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  • [...] Ahh, the American Dream… and a cure A really good one to think about around this consumer Christmas season. [...]