Something had to die, for us to enter the new.
I believe that as the American Dream continues to die for the majority of the Middle Classes; that a new movement is taking over one that I believe is more internally rich; and less externally biased.
Yes, I believe that today we are setting the stage for a lifestyle era change of which I call one of maturing Self-Care.
So what is the American Dream and why is it vanishing?
“It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” It seems like an increasing number of Americans are beginning to open up their eyes and realize that George Carlin’s famous one-liner might be more accurate than many of us are willing to acknowledge.
As the United States drifts farther and farther away from the idyllic scene of prosperity and opportunity that can be found in Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches stories and closer to the stark reality of inequality that came to define the gilded and the years leading up to the Great Depression, it seems plausible that for the first time in our nation’s history the American Dream may be just that — a dream.
These gaping disparities in wealth and income inequality didn’t arise overnight. Instead, the distribution of wealth and income has become increasingly unequal over time. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that between 1979 and 2008, the top 1 percent of households saw their after-tax income increase by a whopping 281 percent whereas the middle fifth of households saw theirs increase by only 25 percent.
America: a country founded on liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the ideals of life. The notion of the American middle class is centered on four pillars: a chance to retire at age 65, a chance to send their children to college, work in order to afford a comfortable lifestyle, and access to good medical care. However, the current financial and economic crisis, and the constant increase in unemployment are causing millions of middle class families to lose their homes or become jobless.
As a result, this crisis is steadily chipping away at the four pillars that built the American middle class, which eventually will cause it to sway and sooner or later come to an end.
Can you imagine America without its middle class?
The American middle class is slowly being wiped out. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 46.2 million Americans living below the poverty line – an increase from 43.6 million in 2009 (a poverty rate of 15.1% in 2010, an increase from 14.3% in 2009). Moreover, the Census reported that the current 2010 poverty rate of 15.1% is the highest rate in 52 years.
So as the American Dream vanishes I believe that among some more mature Americans, Self-Care may replace it?
Today we see both on the left and the right political sides both anger and active dissent. But in the middle, we also see another more adjusted and tranquil group in search of inner peace. So as the American Dream vanishes we also become less and less dependent on government to meet our needs, and we must find another dream to keep us happy. Which is why I believe that some of us in America; are being forced into a new era of choice, of which I call our Self-Care age?
It’s not that “self-care”—as the concept of consciously tending to one’s own well-being has become known—was invented during the election season. But in 2016, self-care officially crossed over into the mainstream. It was the new chicken soup for the progressive soul. The week after the election, Americans Googled the term almost twice as often as they ever had in years past. Many of them simply wondered, “What is this thing?” Months later, others still wondered where it came from.
It took 9/11 for self-care to begin to reclaim its roots as an act of political resistance, according to Petrzela. The collective trauma of that experience led to a notable increase of studies on the effects of PTSD, and it made psychiatrists expand their criteria for who might be considered to be a PTSD victim, to include even some who had a more indirect experience of witnessing the towers fall or may not have noticed symptoms until years later. Petrzela notes that in the fallout from the attacks there was a “turning inward in a lot of ways”:
A 1983 report from the World Health Organization first defined “self-care” simply as “the activities individuals, families, and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health.”
Since then, the concept has been expanded by psychologists, activists, and new age practitioners, all of whom have emphasized reclaiming time to focus on oneself amidst our bustling work and social obligations. In a 2008 article in Psychology Today, Dr. Dana Gionta wrote: “Balancing work, family, and personal life has always been challenging.
It is even more challenging today. Our technological advancements are overwhelming us with information overload.” Motivational online communities have similarly bemoaned the frantic pace of modern life and have advocated reconnecting with one’s body.
As a recent post on the popular lifestyle blog Tiny Buddha exhorted, “The more you practice taking really good care of your body, the more it will reward you with good health, tons of clarity, energy, and the ability to experience all the good that life has to offer for years to come!”
I want to leave on that note, which I have continually pressed is this blog and that is that as we become more involved in our own bodies is how we will find greater solace.
Somehow, external dreams like the American Dream even if it does vanish, but we all have a body and which is our real place to live. So what if the American Dream vanishes and with its disappearance, as we enter more into our body worlds, I believe those who even if forced to change direction, and I also believe we will become a more fulfilled and happier people.