When Pursuing The American Dream Isn’t Enough

If you‘re going through hell, keep going.

Winston Churchill

This is a quote I have hanging in my office.  It’s a reminder of a dark place in my life, and it stands as encouragement to keep going even when life gets tough.

Let me explain…

Four years ago, an event transpired in the life of my family.  This was a time when the foundations of my life, my faith, my family, and my marriage were shaken.  My wife experienced an illness that left her in the hospital for a couple of weeks with a long and challenging recovery.  The event – the illness – was kind of like a bad dream – even a nightmare.  For a long time, it felt like I was stuck in this dream.  I faced a range of emotions.  I was scared.  I was shocked.  I was down and depressed.  I was numb.  And I was stuck.

As my wife began to heal and I began to emerge from the nightmare, I entered a fog of simple existence.  I certainly wasn’t thriving.  There were days when I was just surviving.  My dreams and goals for my life moved to the far back burner on my stove of life.  On the front burner, my hopes and dreams were replaced by a dull and foggy outlook on life.  My new goal was to keep things even – to just be comfortable.

My wife’s health returned, but my fog of simple existence lifted only to leave an empty heart.  I chased after things that I thought would continue to keep things comfortable in our house.  I certainly didn’t want to repeat the past experience, and I became focused on making sure my wife’s illness didn’t return.  In the midst of this pursuit of stability, I lost something.  I lost my love for life and my love for others I once had.  I continued to work hard at my job in an effort to provide financial stability, and I began to chase after things the world told me to chase.  I was after the American Dream with all the comfort and ease it promised.

I’m an engineer/operations manager for a large building automation company in the Philadelphia area.  I make a decent living.  My kids have all they want and more.  We live in a nice house.  We drive two cars.  I’d say we live a pretty comfortable life.

Even with all this, there were major areas of my life that felt hollow.

I don’t think I’m alone in this experience of emptiness.  After talking to many people and watching how people go about their lives, I am convinced there are multitudes of people who are swimming through an ocean of quiet desperation.  They, like me, seek after comfort and ease only to discover a life without meaning.

At some point in my journey, I realized that there was a yearning for more.  The money, the career advancements, and the toys and “fun activities” just didn’t satisfy.  There was more to life than comfort.

In my pursuit of comfort, I became uncomfortable.

This sounds terrible, but I think it’s the best place to be.  When we become uncomfortable with our pursuit of comfort, we are on the brink of something truly worth while – something far better than achieving the American Dream.  When I reached this point in my journey great things began to happen.  I began to see hope.  I began to dream again.  And I began to develop a mission mindset.

Developing a mission mindset is critical to moving forward.  As we continue down this path, I’ll share some important information to help you move from complacent and comfortable to a much healthier place.  You’ll be stretched, but it will be worth it!

How have challenging times in your life stretched you?

Have you ever grown uncomfortable with the comfortable?

What steps have you taken to go from complacent and comfortable to a better place?