The American way of life is an expression that refers to the lifestyle of people living in the United States of America. It is an example of a behavioral modality, developed from the 17th century until today. It refers to a nationalist ethos that purports to adhere to principles of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It has some connection to the concept of American exceptionalism and the American Dream.
The American Way of life is individualistic, dynamic, pragmatic. It affirms the supreme value and dignity of the individual; it stresses incessant activity on his part, for he is never to rest but is always to be striving to "get ahead"; it defines an ethic of self-reliance, merit, and character, and judges by achievement: "deeds, not creeds" are what count. The "American Way of Life" is humanitarian, "forward-looking", optimistic. Americans are easily the most generous and philanthropic people in the world, in terms of their ready and unstinting response to suffering anywhere on the globe. The American believes in progress, in self-improvement, and quite fanatically in education. But above all, the American is idealistic. Americans cannot go on making money or achieving worldly success simply on its own merits; such "materialistic" things must, in the American mind, be justified in "higher" terms, in terms of "service" or "stewardship" or "general welfare"... And because they are so idealistic, Americans tend to be moralistic; they are inclined to see all issues as plain and simple, black and white, issues of morality.
As one commentator notes, "the first half of Herberg's statement still holds true nearly half a century after he first formulated it", even though "Herberg's latter claims have been severely if not completely undermined... materialism no longer needs to be justified in high-sounding terms".
In the National Archives and Records Administration's 1999 Annual Report, National Archivist John W. Carlin writes, "We are different because our government and our way of life are not based on the divine right of kings, the hereditary privileges of elites, or the enforcement of deference to dictators. They are based on pieces of paper, the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration that asserted our independence, the Constitution that created our government, and the Bill of Rights that established our liberties."
American way of life in popular culture 
The comic book superhero Superman fights for "truth, justice, and the American way." This phrase originated in the long-running radio serial, The Adventures of Superman. Originally the opening titles described the title character as fighting "a never-ending battle for truth and justice." During World War II, this became "truth, tolerance, and justice." In Episode 1 of the 1948 Columbia Pictures serial Superman entitled "Superman Comes to Earth", Clark Kent's adoptive father John Kent tells Clark that he must use his powers to fight for "truth, tolerance, and justice". In some contemporary comic books the phrase has been reworded again to remove the reference to the American way, for example as "truth, justice, and hope" after the events of the Infinite Crisis miniseries. In the 2006 film Superman Returns the phrase was recited by the character Perry White as "truth, justice, all that stuff." The "Up, Up and Away" comic book story arc firmly re-established the slogan as "truth, justice, and the American way." In the Christopher Reeve movies, the phrase is used semi-ironically. In Superman the Movie, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) responds to the phrase by saying "You'll be fighting every elected official in this country." (The film was conceived shortly after the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal).
In the cancelled Wonder Woman TV series that was to be aired, but canceled, Diana Prince (portrayed by Adrianne Palicki) visits her friend, Willis, in the hospital and he says "...truth, justice, and the American way." This pays homage to what Superman stands for, given that Wonder Woman and Superman are also in the same universe.
Films and TV series 
In the 19th century, writers include Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864), Herman Melville (1819–1891), Walt Whitman (1819–1892), and Mark Twain (1835–1910).
In the 1900s, Jack London (1876–1916), Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945), Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941), Eugene O'Neill (1888–1953), Clifford Odets (1906–1963), T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), John Dos Passos (1896–1970), Francis Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940), and Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956).
From 1900 to 1950, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951), William Faulkner (1897–1962), Henry Miller (1891–1980), Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), John Steinbeck (1902–1968), Richard Wright (1908–1960), William Saroyan (1908–1981), Nelson Algren (1909–1981), Paul Bowles (1910–1999), Jerome Salinger (1919–2009), Norman Mailer (1923–2007), and Gore Vidal (1925–2012).
The Cuban writer H. Zumbado had a book published in 1981 under the title El American Way, satirizing the American way of life. The also Cuban humorist and writer Juan Ángel Cardi wrote a novel entitled El American Way of Death, published in 1981, also satirizing the American Way of Life.
Some songs by Woody Guthrie (1912–1967) are about the American way of life.
The Dropkick Murphys song The New American Way laments the way that the American way of life is changing, saying "The morals of this nation's youth have long gone astray led by tolerance, indifference, and this kinder gentler way."
In Toby Keith's song, Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, Keith sings, "We'll put a boot in your ass. It's the American way."
The chorus in the song "Dreganomics" by Mac Dre is "Follow me now, Let me lead the way, If your gonna believe in something, Believe in Dre, It's only civilized, For us to live our lives, Royal, Spoiled, The American Way!"
The Big Beats duo The Crystal Method feature a tune called "This is the American way" from the album Legion of Boom.
See also 
- American Dream
- American Way Magazine
- Culture of the United States
- People for the American Way
- Richard Hamilton (artist)
- Herberg, William (1955). Protestant, Catholic, Jew: an Essay in American religious sociology. University of Chicago Press.
- The American Way of Life. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photograph, gelatin silver print n. 1973.195
- Herberg (1955), p. 79
- Wood, Ralph C (2004). Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-haunted South. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 21.
- "The National Archives and Records Administration Annual Report 1999". U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.