The American dream is painted inside a neighborhood, a gated one that keeps little affluent children and apron-wearing wives safe from a minority whose jobs don’t quite reach a suit-and-tie status quo. The Utahn dream consists of a substantial enough income for a house that can fit all the grandkids; a tire swing in the back of the tomato garden, a four-car garage, or a dancing fountain roundabout.
Though this ideal home seems to roam the thoughts of many Americans, it is questionable whether happiness actually associates with it. Saul Ramos-Ortega, a junior said, “Most people think that a successful person is the guy with the lamborghini and the big million dollar mansion.” Ramos-Ortega continues,“A successful person is an average person with a wife and kids or a husband and kids . . . able to provide for their family and be happy about what they’re doing,” Ortega said.
Utah possesses the largest average home size at 2,305 sq. ft. with a median of $219,900 (Inman.com). As these numbers continue to climb, the average number of people per household continues to decrease. Instead of family, American homes are brimming over with various paraphernalia including outgrown clothing, second-hand gifts, dusty books, TV ordered products, (etc.). Such luxuries are normalized in the nature of a first world country.
It is an intrinsic desire to obtain more possessions; children are taught at a young age to collect, to keep, to display. Jeanne E. Arnold, Project Director of the UCLA Sloan Center for Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) said, “The United States has 3.1% of the world’s children, but consumes 40% of the world’s toys.” Children mature into adults, a collection of toys evolves into a collection cars, playrooms become mancaves. Studies have proven that stress levels associate with the amount of “stuff” one has.
Clutter is a black cloud that doesn’t loom over a minimalist lifestyle. Popularly regarded as bearded, unwashed vagabonds, minimalists are simply people who live simply. A minimalist is a pursuer of happiness within a life sustained by bare necessities. Some extremists live off only 100 possessions, but the concept itself is much less demanding. Co-author of Everything That Remains, and co-creater of TheMinimalists.com Ryan Nicodemus said, “Minimalism is a tool that helps you to question the things that you have in your life, to really look at what adds value.”
It is ironic that the term “minimalist” is used to describe such a lifestyle. If anything, minimalists live a life more. More relationships, character growth, time, a healthy state of mind. Happiness. The kind most exchange for debt while on the congested highway of the ‘American dream.’ A study by the Gates program obtained personal notes and letters from roughly 125 households which collect $20 million dollars or more a year. One common anxiety wealthy people faced was financial security, ironically. A report of the study revealed that one man would not feel financially secure until he had $1 billion in the bank.
It seems that the Pursuit of Happiness crosses passes with materialism, but for some it’s a separateseperate world altogether. Said Ramos-Ortega,“It’s what you go out and do that sets you apart from others. . . leaving something that people want to live up to, so people want to follow your footsteps –that’s the American dream.”