The American Dream as the cultural ‘fit’.

A recent article in Psychology Today titled ‘the American nightmare’ (March/April, 2011) caught my attention. I realized ‘oh wow, the American Dream that most of us aspire to is actually the cultural fit that Mary and I are addressing in our upcoming book, Happy Misfits!’ Our thesis is that to fit or aspire to fit into any cultural track indeed can become a nightmare! We need to become conscious misfits with respect to the cultural dreams and aspirations that we tend to swallow whole. This doesn’t mean that we throw out the baby with the bath water. There is much about the American Dream that is deserving of our discriminative attention. The dream marriage that fulfills each partner body and soul until reality sets in, the two point two children and parents that comprise the nuclear family that may be stressed to the breaking point, the McMansion in the suburbs that is elaborate and elegant and contributes to suburban sprawl and isolation. These are all part of the cultural fit that many Americans (and others around the world) often aspire to and may be part of what inspires others to become happy misfits who challenge or at least modify the American Dream in their lives.

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  1. Yes, this is an important topic. Any time a person takes on some external idea as something they should fit into, they are going about life backwards. This is a part of the widespread belief that what is actually true won’t work, and won’t be acceptable. Many of us try so hard to fit into the “norm,” we never find out what is actually true for us. We are trying to live in a made up world, and when the reality underneath the outward appears surfaces, we have no idea how to deal with it.

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