Prescription for a Case of “Keeping Up With the Joneses”

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Keeping-up-with-the-jonesesTrying to outshine family members, neighbors, and friends isn’t a new phenomenon. The phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” goes back over 100 years to a comic strip published in 1913. Trying to match the spending habits and lifestyle choices of other people is a recipe for financial and emotional disaster. Even if you manage to keep up with the most lavish spenders in your social circle, you’ll likely find that it doesn’t make you feel any better. If you can’t break the cycle of comparing your lifestyle to what others have, use these ideas to start appreciating what you have.

Our girls are pre-teen and often have issues with this (a lot of kids do, thought).  They always think their friends from school have and do more. Sometimes it’s true and sometimes its not.Every time this comes up we remind them, there will ALWAYS be those that have more than you…. and those that have less. It’s the way the world works.

As adults we need to remember this too.  And the reality is, unless we are living someone else s life, we don’t truly know what they have. A friend may have an amazing car, but be drowning in debt.

Contentment is key, but it’s difficult.  As humans we have the desire for more.  So learning to be content takes discipline.

I love the topic of this book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. Its the science behind happiness and how you might be able to become a more content person.  Really cool.

I have a couple of tips to start you on a your journey to contentment. It’s not an easy one, but taking one step will get you closer.

If you have any others tips or a story, please leave them in the comments.  We’d LOVE to hear them.

Cut Down Your Media Consumption

Media is intended to make you want more all the time. When you watch TV, you are bombarded with images of things that claim to make your life easier, more glamorous, or more enjoyable. When you sit at the computer and surf the Internet, ads on every page influence your subconscious mind. Magazines are full of advertisements.

This is all to say that the more media you consume, the more you are likely to think you need to be happy in life. Instead of relying on television, the Internet, and magazines for your entertainment, turn off electronics and head outside. Read a book. Create something instead of consuming. The less plugged in you are to conventional media, the less influenced your diet.

Be Open About Money With Friends

For some reason, being frugal is something that many people are ashamed of. You may artificially inflate your income or spending habits to make people believe that you are better off than you really are. What’s the point? Everyone struggles, and by being open about your financial situation, you can actually grow closer to your friends and family.

This isn’t to say that you should complain about money every time you get together with your friends. Rather, talk to friends about how you’ve been saving money, be frank about whether a specific activity or restaurant is in your budget, and take pride in the money you save for your family.

Get Off of Social Media

In some ways, social media is wonderful. It keeps you connected to family members and friends whom you would otherwise never see. However, it also puts you in a position to compare yourself unfavorably to others. When people on your friends list are posting about their new house, a new car, or their latest electronic purchase, it’s easy to think that you are depriving yourself by passing on those purchases. If certain people trigger your jealousy, hide them from your feed or unfollow them. You may even want to decrease your overall social media intake—you’d be surprise at the positive effect it can have on your mood.

Question Your Purchases

Before you make a major purchase, ask yourself one question: “Would I make this purchase if I couldn’t tell people about it, post about it, or show it off?” if the answer is no, you probably don’t need it. Think on it for a few days and then reassess.

There have been times in my life I have been perfectly content and then time when I have seen what others have and been jealous. I think it’s pretty normal, you simply have to resist the urge.

Take stock in all your blessings… not only your physical ones but things like your relationships, health and anything else that makes you feel “rich”.

When you are feeling down make a list and display it for yourself to see in a prominent place. This way you can review it daily to get back to a place of contentment.

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