Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The New Better Off

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The New Better Off

Reinventing the American Dream

Seal Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Maybe it’s time to redefine the American Dream.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


If you are one of the fortunate few with a rewarding career, a fulfilling family life and time to pursue leisure activities you find joyful, then entrepreneur Courtney E. Martin’s terrific book will confirm what you probably already know. But if you are among the restless majority searching for meaning in life, you may find that Martin’s insights perfectly capture your feelings. She writes of the growing discontent many Americans feel as they work hard, make money and buy things, yet sense that something is missing. Martin contends that happiness cannot come from materialism and routine; instead, she says, it grows as you identify and follow your core values and connect with others. Many people now reject long hours of work in favor of home life or creative pursuits. Her grounded, perceptive descriptions capture a malaise that plagues many, and that you might be able to address, first, simply by unplugging from your cellphone. getAbstract recommends her ideas to those seeking contentment and peace of mind.


Grow Up, Get a Job, Stay Put

Conditioning led Americans to believe that when you grow up, you will select a profession, find a good job and stick with it until you retire. That model is now obsolete. Lawyers and teachers, for instance, find they can apply their skills in specialized areas outside of the courtroom and the classroom. People change jobs more frequently – often, involuntarily – due to technological developments, globalization and other factors. This era of instability creates problems, but it also can give you opportunities to reassess your goals, interests and desires. The size of your paycheck or how high you climb up the corporate ladder no longer defines the American Dream. More and more, people are rejecting the traditional definition of success as they try to connect with pursuits that provide happiness and a sense of purpose.

For instance, one home health aide working in Los Angeles helps elderly clients for several hours a week – but she doesn’t make much money. Most home health workers make $10 an hour. By 2060, the Administration on Aging estimates the US population will include roughly 90 million people age 65 and older – around...

About the Author

Entrepreneur Courtney E. Martin has written five books and is a weekly columnist for On Being. She presented a popular TED Talk, and her work appears in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Comment on this summary