Living the Dream – Idiom, Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Are you living the dream? That question alone can be taken literally or sarcastically, depending on the context surrounding the situation. So, let’s take a moment to explore the details and the origin of the phrase and see how you can use it.

Living the Dream Meaning

Living the Dream Idiom Meaning Origin

“Living the dream” is a common phrase, especially nowadays, that we typically use to describe a situation where someone’s experiencing the ideal lifestyle or enjoying some well-deserved success. It can include anything from financial success to creative success.

Take my own personal life as an example. I’m a full-time writer; I love to create helpful content like this for Grammarist. I’m also a full-time Author, writing Fantasy Romance books. That’s it. That’s literally my job every day; just sit down and write! So, when people ask me how I’m doing, I can confidently say, in a positive way, that I’m living the dream.

Using Living the Dream in a Sarcastic Way

So, we’ve already established that the phrase “living the dream” is mostly used in a genuine way to describe a successful and fulfilling life. But you can also use it sarcastically to suggest the opposite.

In a context like this, the phrase would describe a situation that’s far from ideal or maybe even mock someone who claims to be enjoying a perfect life despite evidence to the contrary.

Let’s say you were living paycheck to paycheck, your job was stressful, and your car broke down. Then someone comes along and asks how you’re doing. You could reply sarcastically with, “Oh, just living the dream.” They’d most likely pick up on the vibe, especially if you pair it with an exasperated look.

Living the Dream Phrase Origin

Living the Dream Ngram
Living the dream usage trend.

There’s no real concrete date or time to pinpoint the creation of the phrase, but it’s said to have originated in America during the boom of the 20th century. Its widespread intent gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, going along with the rise of self-help and betterment campaigns.

But the phrase itself embodies the idea of achieving the “American Dream,” aka, with hard work, you can achieve anything.

What Is Another Phrase for Living the Dream?


  • Living my best life
  • The good life
  • On top of the world
  • Living in the lap of luxury
  • In seventh heaven
  • Life of Riley
  • Living large

Negatively or Sarcastically

  • Living paycheck to paycheck
  • My own personal hell
  • Living fabulously
  • Pipe dream
  • living a life of broken dreams

Living the Dream Examples in a Sentence

Living the Dream Idiom Meaning Origin 1
  • After getting a promotion at work and buying her dream house, my best friend Sarah could admit she was living the dream.
  • Since retiring two years ago and traveling the world, my grandparents have been living the dream, and I’m super glad to see them doing it.
  • While stuck in a traffic jam on his way to his low-paying job, Mike sighed and muttered sarcastically, “Yep, just living the dream.”
  • Oh, you know, just livin’ the dream while I juggle this crappy job, running a side business, and trying to raise a family.
  • My sister shared a picture of her tropical vacation on social media, captioning it, “Living the dream!” and I’m so jealous.

Are You Living the Dream?

So, just remember that you can use this phrase sarcastically or seriously to convey how you currently feel about your life or a certain situation. If someone else is saying it to you, try and pay attention to the social cues and body language that go along with it to determine if they’re being sarcastic or not.