Stop Keeping Up with the Joneses

Every day people are faced with making many decisions. Big or small, important or unimportant, this is part of life.

And in life, we have to choose some things in preference to others. But choosing doesn’t always involve just ‘things.’ Choosing also involves philosophies.

Ways of living. Ways of being. Ways of believing.

And often in life, we become trapped into a deceptive way of thinking.

One such deceptive trap many fall into is: That we should have everything. That we can have everything. That we deserve everything.

It’s called ‘the more, the better’ mentality. The Joneses.

“Life is short, I am only going to live once. So, I want a luxury car, a huge house and a ton of all the latest and greatest gadgetry to put in it.”

And when you adopt this mentality, you can’t help but start to notice what everyone else around you has. It’s natural, when you want the best, you must pay attention to what those around you have. How else can you make sure what you have is better than what they have, unless you are judging what others have?

And so the competition begins, even if you don’t fully realize it.

There’s just one problem, though …

You.  Will.  Never.  Win.

In fact, every time you try to compete, you’ll always lose. Because even if you have the best of something, someone else will come along in about five minutes that will have something better.

It’s called, “Keeping up with Joneses.” And why should I be interested in keeping up with these Joneses people? I don’t even know them!

Often in reality, the Joneses actually aren’t who we think they are.

The Joneses are stressed out.

The Joneses are living paycheck to paycheck.

The Joneses aren’t really happy. Actually, the Joneses are quite miserable.

Trust me, you do not want to be the Joneses.

And the worst part is, the Joneses aren’t living for the true needs of their family or for God. They’re living for status and admiration, or simply just greed. They’re living for themselves.

And when you live for yourself, status, admiration and all these other things that come with excess materialism and consumerism, it’s impossible to also live for God.

You cannot have both. It just doesn’t work that way.

In my past I was tempted to want the best of everything. But there came a time in my life that I realized that’s not how I want to live. There is no peace there.

And once I stopped trying to compete with these annoying Joneses folks and stopped comparing myself and my life to others – the happier I became and the closer to God I became.

When we give all or our time chasing for material rewards, we leave no room for God. We can try to talk ourselves into thinking we can have both. But we’re only deceiving ourselves.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. It’s true.

When you choose to desire and live a more simplistic life, one without comparison, it’s easier to see God in front of you.

And it’s only then, when you see and feel His presence in your life that you can allow Him to work in you and through you.

The single most important benefit to living a more simple life, one without comparison, is finding God in the space and the freedom that results.

Almost everyone desires peace and a firm, lasting happiness in their life. Living for God, instead of ourselves is greater than any earthly accomplishment, more than any human praise, more than any worldly satisfaction.

Every achievement, success and new possession has its day but quickly passes away. But if we can successfully fight the temptations to consumerism, materialism and excessiveness … stop comparing ourselves to others … when we see the ‘Joneses,’ and we’re tempted to think how nice their things are, we’ll realize, “They’re not real.”

But God is real.

And He is happiness. And that’s where our focus should be.

image: McMansion Under Construction via Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

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Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

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