Re-defining the American Dream

I can’t help but struggle daily with the pressures that are pushed on us constantly throughout our Western culture. The pressures to ‘live for ourselves’, to make as much money as possible, to consume, to always be productive, to look for advancement in all areas of life, to believe that we will find happiness and security in money, and to work, work, and work!! However, I believe that we are created for so much more.  It begs me to question and wonder how things have changed throughout time. Have we always been this way? Do people really find happiness in this model, or just emptiness?

No matter how long we are whipped by this work-horse of productivity and consumption, at some point we will be forced to ask the question: why should I live this way? I believe that the majority of people will realize as they continue to live this way that they will be met with more emptiness instead of true joy.

The famous Hollywood director, Tom Shadyac, shares this exact finding in his documentary: I Am. In I Am, Tom explains how he finally completed his goals of becoming a world famous director and producer (I bet you have heard of some of his films: Liar Liar, Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor), and had become extremely rich, famous, and ‘successful’.  However, a condition caused from a bike ride accident forced Tom to look at life differently as he suffered, basically, from an injury similar to a constant concussion. As a result, Tom could barely function in his daily life and dove into depression as he wasn’t able to do any of the things he loved. Through his quest for recovery he starts to really ponder the true meaning of life versus the life that he has lived thus far. He comes to the conclusion that for all these years accumulating tons of success, riches, and self-gain, he still finds emptiness in it all. Through his journey, he ends up selling his multi-million dollar house in Beverly Hills to move into a mobile home community in Malibu and now uses his talents and time to help people. The documentary, I Am, records Tom’s journey in discovering what's wrong with our world and how we can improve it and the way we live in it. He talks with many philosophers, intellectuals, scientists and spiritual leaders. Through many interviews and conversations the truth of how we are more connected then divided as humans becomes apparent. How life is about finding and shaping who you are, what you can give, and what you can share with other people in the world. To leave the world a better place in small, tangible ways. 

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This is the mantra in which I hope to live every day of my life. I wish to be the change I want to see by living my life with a different currency than money. My drive is to help justice and love reign by helping people in as many ways that I can. I will chose to not give into fear, but to believe in my dreams and to live courageously in every aspect of my life - even if things seem impossible at times. Remember my friends, it’s better to have tried to make a positive difference and fail then it is to never have tried. Let’s unabashedly pour good into the world and learn from our failures when they happen instead of being afraid or held back by them.

I believe there is already a strong current building made up of many dreamers and doers who are creating a counter-culture driven by virtue, love, and compassion; reframing and rewriting the nature of our world away from the beliefs that security is found in money, that independence is freedom and that it’s okay to be selfish.

Let’s join together and create a different bottom line for the way we live. Let’s live a mantra that is based on how much good we can put into the world and to be authentic to who we are, while allowing integrity to be our guide.

Please share ways that you are putting good into the world and creating a culture that is driven by virtue, love, and compassion. Remember we are all on the same team. We would absolutely love to hear from you!

Stephanie Zeller is the Community Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Steph at