One of the most common simple living struggles people have is overcoming the desire to keep up with the Joneses. You know, the theoretical family that always has nice new things. The home, the cars, the vacations, the clothing.
We tell ourselves that we need to have what they have. We get jealous. We compare our six year old car to their brand new SUV. Our saggy old couch doesn’t feel as nice as their new plush furniture. When looking side-by-side, it appears The Joneses are living a much better life then us.
But we all know, deep down, that we need to tell the Joneses to fuck off.
We are going to be more content in life if we are able to stop comparing ourselves to them. We’ll make better decisions, and we’ll be happier with the life WE live.
Material Happiness is Fleeting
Have you heard of hedonic adaption before? It’s a psychological concept that I’m sure you have experienced. Simply put, humans almost always go back to a “set point” of happiness after a positive or negative life change.
When applied to material items, it’s why very few purchases cause long term happiness.
The Joneses love their new car. Their friends and neighbors are ooo’ing and ahh’ing over that new crossover SUV. BASK IN IT JONESES! Because six months from now, those poor Joneses will be back to their normal set point of happiness, and maybe even be envious thinking about the features of next year’s vehicle models.
Because of hedonic adaptation, material happiness is fleeting. You think a new house, a new car, a new (fill in the blank) will make you happy, but chances are, it won’t. You’ll be just as happy as you are today. You’ll just have less money, and more stuff…
Money Stress is Not Fleeting
Having to worry about financial commitments is not a one time event. For people who are struggling, there is a continual dark cloud that hangs over them.
So while you can have a quick and fleeting bump in happiness when you first acquire something new and shiny, the impact that it has on your financial wellbeing can last months, or even years.
When you start to add up the cost of two car payments, a large mortgage, excessive credit card payments, etc, you leave little room left in your budget for other things. This means regular living expenses get harder and harder to pay for as your debt caused by flashy consumption eats away at your available cash flow.
Let’s be real – the Joneses are stressed. I’ve talked to many “Joneses” who have confided in me that they feel like it’s impossible to get ahead in life. They can’t achieve bigger life goals like having children or changing careers because their money limitations.
Sometimes in moments of clarity, the Joneses will admit that they don’t need all that fancy stuff. They could live a more responsible life. But the drug of luxury is a strong addiction. Even with the downside of the money stress, they find justifications as to why the NEED to make a purchase.
In the attempt to look like they made it, they’ve actually made it harder to succeed. This is not happy place to be.
Worshiping the Wrong God
What do you really want in life?
For the Joneses, having nice stuff is their symbolism of having a good life.
The Joneses are so often the cause of our comparison jealousy because they are living the life that is marketed to us as “the good life”.
They are living the life we see in the commercials for new cars or retail goods. Their house looks like something you’d see featured on a home remodeling show. Both the adults and the children in the Joneses family have all the toy and products they want.
The Joneses are worshiping the god of materialism.
Is that what you want?
Is materialism and consumerism the god you want to worship? I doubt it. Not many developed people can honestly say that purchasing nice material goods is an important part of their life. Most religions and life philosophies will point us in the opposite direction – relationships, personal virtues, making a positive difference in the world.
Telling the Joneses to Fuck Off
The more you think on it, it’s probably better to show the Joneses some sympathy.
These poor people (often literally) have not evolved beyond the mindset that modern marketing has engrained in them. They are living like robots who are following the commands of the commercials they see, and make decisions with their money based on trying to look wealthy.
The Joneses are the people you read about that are living paycheck-to-paycheck, have little savings, and will be forced to work until their bodies don’t allow them to anymore.
So while I’d love to tell the Joneses to fuck off, it’s probably better for you to just raise your middle finger at the lifestyle that they choose to live.
Tell the comparison living, the jealousy, and the need to purchase happiness, to fuck right off.
You are better than that. You are somebody that can look inside yourself and determine what is really important to you. What really makes you happy.
Instead of chasing materialism, you are going to do what’s important to you. You are going to work on yourself, your relationships, and live a more financially secure life.