What is the American Dream? One of the first ideas to come to mind is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence, US, 1776
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness means many things to many different people. What comes to my mind is the dream to get married, have 2.5 kids, buy a home and have a good secure job to pay for it all. We tell our kids to get good grades in school, go to college and get a good paying job so you can be happy. In my life, I have heard many different versions of this idea of the American Dream. My question is, “Does the American Dream accomplish the goal of happiness for the average American?”
Think about it. The reality is that the American Dream is a debt sentence.
How many students are privileged enough to get a free college education?
- In 2012, 71 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges had student loan debt: represents 1.3 million students graduating with debt, increase from 1.1 million in 2008.1
How many adults go into debt paying for their weddings and honeymoons?
- One-third of couples go into debt for their wedding day.2
How often do couples purchase their first home with cash, no debt?
- In 2014, the overall share of first-time homebuyers among combined pools of FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and GSEs (government-sponsored enterprises) purchase borrowers edged down to 54 percent.3
Although there are exceptions to every rule, 80% of Americans are in debt.4 We rack up debt as if it is going out of style with car notes, personal cash loans, credit card bills and interest free furniture loans until 2019. I’m not judging, because I too pursued The American Dream and received all the bondage that comes with the debt sentence.
DEBT IS UNFORGIVING
The funny thing about debt is it doesn’t stop when you are laid off, fired or your company decides to outsource 75% of the business to India. The mortgage is due the first of the month, no matter who is president of the United States. Debt collectors are relentless and the pressure is surmounting. We become so focused on paying our debts that we lose sight of our dreams, passions and destiny. Not everyone is experiencing happiness because life has become one big hamster wheel of defeat. As an American people, we are stuck in debt – WHAT GIVES.
If you spend any amount of time around me, you will hear me say this over and over again, “People don’t get stuck in their behavior, they get stuck in their thinking.” The debt paradigm shift is not an easy one to dislodge but it can be uprooted if you are determined to make a change. There are tons of books and programs like Financial Peace and Crown Financial to help you with the process. My goal today is to help you to think about your relationship with debt and how it is influencing your view of life.
My own mindset was plagued with the debt sentence. I was living paycheck to paycheck – slave to my debt. Then I woke up and started taking serious steps to change my stinking thinking. What I am sharing in this blog I actually practice. I am not a person in debt telling you to get out of it. Instead, I am a person who was in debt and gathered the knowledge necessary to breakthrough debt to freedom.
“Information changes situations.” – Eric Thomas
Over the past 3 years, I have paid off my student loans, a high interest personal loan and my credit cards. One of the best feelings in the world was when I realized I am no longer a slave to debt and therefore no longer a slave to my corporate job. This realization hit me with an overwhelming amount of joy.
There are few feelings greater than the experience of true freedom: freedom over your mind, time and resources. True freedom is a mindset change! It is amazing how creative you become when you make your mind up to do something different then you have always done. There are many people in the world with great desire for success but no commitment to their commitments. Therefore, they easily fall back into old habits and resist any accountability for change. Understand this very clearly, dreams and desires do not become a reality just because you desire them. They become a reality when you WORK FOR THEM!!! If nothing changes, nothing changes. Old habits and ways of thinking must be put to the side and new habits and mindsets must be given room to flourish.
My new mindset was very quickly tested when I was presented with an opportunity to go to South Africa and minister abroad. The first thing I thought was, if I can’t pay cash, I’m not going. The old Brenda would have said, “Oh just charge it and pay it later.” I was determined to go to South Africa with an awesome ministry of women, so when creativity kicked in – I got busy. I sold books, planned a fund raising event and worked double time on my business to bring in extra revenue to pay for the trip. I wanted everyone who contributed to the trip to receive something in return – for some it was a book and others it was a painting – but for all it was a contribution to a mission that touched lives. I give a huge thanks to that special group of people that caught the vision.
I share this blog to say that freedom is possible for every person with the determination to capture it. Happiness is an inside job and debt is a slave master. The debt cycle influences every area of our lives. It taints how we see ourselves and limits how we view our future. The pursuit of happiness becomes hard to obtain when the choke hold of debt keeps you from breathing the fresh air of freedom. Break FREE!!!