There are several supposed origins of the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" and it's rare you meet someone who hasn't said it, or doesn't know its meaning. Since we (blessedly) find ourselves in a new year, along with your resolutions (if you make them) and goals for the year ahead, I invite you to adopt a new theme for the year: SCREW THE JONESES.
Comparing your life to someone else's life is a great way to feel falsely inadequate or falsely superior. Either way it's a big head game because you make assumptions without knowing all the facts.
You might think your friends and neighbors are doing better than you are because of what appear to be obvious outward signs -- a nice home, new cars, beautiful clothes and perhaps a second home or a boat. What you can't see is their crippling debt that keeps them awake at night. What you don't know is they may be just a few paychecks from losing their cars. They've given in to the pressure of looking good and are trying to keep up with the Joneses. As a result, their lives are stressful, despite the outward appearance of success.
Or, you may look at your neighbors and friends and make an assumption that they're not doing so well. Perhaps they drive older model cars or live in a surprisingly modest home. However, what you don't see is that their cars are paid off, their monthly house payment is small and affordable, and they sleep like babies at night. They've made the choice to ignore societal pressure to keep up and look good and instead have crafted their lives around their values, creating peace of mind and security for themselves.
It's also possible that those who appear wealthy and successful might be, and your friends who look as if they're struggling might be struggling. The point is you just don't know.
The truth is you NEVER know what's going on behind the curtain. Comparing your own life with others is futile and it because it's based on empty assumptions, it offers you nothing productive. So if you want a great "theme" for the coming year, it's Screw The Joneses.
It's time to stop comparing your home, your job, your life, your "success" with the people around you, because there will always be people who have more than you do, and those who have less. Instead of looking at what others have, be thankful for what you have. Focus on YOUR life, your goals, and your dreams. Run your own race, on your own track, at your own pace, and as long as you can sleep at night secure in your choices and hold true to your priorities and values, it's the Joneses who will be green with envy.
Here's to a fantastic 2011!
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Photo by TheBusyBrain