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What Is It That We All Strive For?

The concept of the American Dream was introduced in 1931, just a little after the Great

Depression occurred. Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each

according to ability or achievement (Adams, 1931). As a society in the American culture the majority of

people still pursue the American dream today. As Americans, we are constantly surrounded by the images

of success, which convey wealth more than health and happiness. Although health may be advertised, the

majority of people that are exercising or working out do it to simply achieve the image and beauty of

health not to be fit or truly healthy. Many do not do it at all. We need to have what our neighbors have.

The brand new cars, the ideal body, to cellular devices, high-tech toys, and so much more. As a

consumerist society we get submerged in the idea of materialism and staying in trend. We never want to

be deemed as a lower-class or feel as if we do not belong. Although, there are many people who may

disagree that they do not fit under this category, there are different aspects in which people still need to

feel as if they belong regardless of whether it is with the social normalities or elsewhere. I ask the

questions of: Once we have all the assets that we have desired what would be the other determining

factors to ones success? What is it that we all truly strive for? If a woman with her own company, is

well-off, and has all of her desired assets, is she truly happy? One might say that, yes, it is possible to be

happy. But throughout a prolonged amount time and not having emotional support, is it possible to say

that you have succeeded in all aspects of life? Happiness and success are such subjective terms that it

would be hard to determine. I do not have one sole question but rather a multitude of them.

I have grown up understanding the financial struggles and bearing with my parents to get by. I

ask these questions because I, myself, strive for the American dream. I have given into the materialism.

Being successful financially has been such a big determiner in the decisions I have made and will be

make educationally and with the many others along the way. In an article created by Harvard Business
Review a psychologist major inserts a quote, Ive been poor and Ive been rich, quipped the comedian

Sophie Tucker. Rich is better. (Raghunathan, June 2016). This is a quote that I agree with. From

personal experience and childhood memories, I can remember that a lot of the time my parents would

fight or bicker at one another was because of finances. Because I remember the vivid moments of these

quarrelsome arguments so well, I believe that it is a part of why I am so driven on being financially stable.

But I believe that the bigger reason of why I am motivated in this aspect is because of my parents

themselves. My mother lived by a rice field where she worked alongside with my grandma, her house

made up of dry leafs, mud, stixs and stones. My father was a wealthier child who came from a family that

owned several rice fields. The only reason my father married my mother was because she was his ticket to

America. My mother was a creation of the Vietnam War. And my parents came to America for the

American dream.

Since I was a child, I have always been prepped with the words of wisdom, to study hard, take my

education seriously, advance in sports, and to be an overall successful well-rounded kid. Yet, after the

twenty-six years my parents have lived here, we have a wonderful home and are apart of what most

people would consider, middle-class. I have everything that I could have ever asked for. But even today

after being financially stable, they still lecture me about the importance of finances and education. I am in

a stage of my life where I am having to make the decision of what occupation and lifestyles I would like

for myself. And in my head it seems that the only motivation for which career I will be pursuing for the

rest of my life is, what job makes six figures?.

Nowadays, many refer to the phrase of, Do what makes you happy and the money will follow. I

agree, that one should pursue something that they will enjoy yet I do not believe that you can pursue a

passion without a few obstacles and trade-offs. In a day and age of today, not having a stable job and

relatively good income you will not be able to have ideal leisure time, vacations, and so much more.

Money is needed for happiness to exist. It is the base of the overall success of family, relationships and a
lot more or for this, is what I believe in. Coming across new articles about the true meaning behind what

everyone calls success, I came across this definition,

Success comes as the by-product of a life lived from the inside out. The key to living a successful

life is grasping the awareness that you are enough. Once you understand you are enough, you

create the space within your consciousness that allows you to realign harmoniously with your

essential self or highest good. (Herriott, n.d.)

I found this statement fascinating because it allows a different perspective of success. Success

comes from how you live your life from the inside out, from the realization that you are enough. Not only

this, but the writer goes on to say that he had to take time and be frank with himself. He realizes that he

had been pushing himself towards a goal that was built off of the basis of money. When what he really

desired was wholeness. Through this discovery he was able to revert to a different path and change his

end goal. During this transition he says that he was able to find and discover that, advocacy, teaching,

counseling and researching consciousness (Herriott, n.d.). were his passions. And as a result he was able

to grow to be more of a person.

This is one of the many articles to say that money should not be the sole reason behind your

decisions, especially when it is the thing that you will be doing for the rest or majority of your life. It

comes to tell you that, you should be truthful with who you really want to be, where you want to see

yourself, and to take the time to self-reflect. But, even after reading the article I stand firm with my

belief. I think that I will only be able have a deeper understanding of what success is with life


In the couple days past, I had met up with an old long-time family friend. She, who is about two

years older than I, was going through college and work. She values education just as much as I do. We

discussed and caught up at where we are in life. Naturally, the topic of where we want to see ourselves

and what we deem important to us came up in the conversation. I had told her that I would like to have a
stable job, be wealthy, and word for word, obtain the things that I never had. She, who comes from a

wealthy family, lived in a big home and was given everything she needed and desired, wished the

complete opposite.

I could care less about money. But I will admit that I have come from a privileged family. I had

everything, the big house, the money. (Ok, 2017.)

I then questioned, are those who are raised from lower income families the entrepreneurs and millionaires

of today and does it switch from generation to generation? I understand that this is a generalization but

from the people I have encountered throughout my life I have seen a correlation to the amount of income

of household to the long-term goals and desires of certain people. Something that I have come to realize is

that, the determination of ones happiness and measurement of success is more than just the dollar signs

and receipts but it goes deeper into the concepts of psychology. I believe that this is the sole reason why

the definition of success is difficult to pinpoint.

In the 21st century, the realization of what one truly desires is troublesome because it is

influenced by a lot of outer ideas and media. In the article, The Real Meaning of Success the author

makes a statement,

We are surrounded by a materialistic culture and get to experience first-hand the kind of

happiness it brings when we obtain a specific title or object. You may even feel it from time to

time, like buying the new iPhone or basking in the scent of a fresh new car. Its not necessarily

bad to have these things, but many times, the reasons why we crave these things are a bit

misconstrued. (Jun, n.d.)

The author does a great job prevailing the idea of how the things that we want may be untrue to what we

truly desire because of the mass attention and social acceptance the certain item or objects obtain. The

article then goes on to direct you to a list of how you would be able to find your actual ambition. The list
is very vague and states steps such as, Question Yourself What is Success? I do not believe that these

directions are necessarily the best way to find what you aspire for, but rather, it is a good place to start.

After researching and finding the different perspectives and views of how one perceives success, I

would like to continue researching. I believe that finding my own definition of success will come after my

life experiences and the people I encounter. I still ponder the question of, What is it that we all truly

strive for?. This question remains unanswered but with life experiences I hope to form or hypothesize a

better structured answer. Yet, I have come to the brief sub-conclusion that wealth is not everything but it

is definitely a part of something bigger. I hope to find a better understanding of myself as I determine my

own meaning of success.


American Dream. (2017, June 24). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from


Raj Raghunathan. (2016, June 08). Why Rich People Arent as Happy as They Could Be. Retrieved

from https://hbr.org/2016/06/why-rich-people-arent-as-happy-as-they-could-be

Jesse Herriott, M.A. (N.D.). True Meaning of Success. Retrieved from


Paul Jun. (N.D.). The Real Meaning of Success. Retrieved from


Victoria Ok. (2017, June 27). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from normal day to day conversation