Ah, the Joneses.
The next door neighbors who knocked down their single family home and built a mansion upon those very ashes. Constantly exuding a certain air of ‘fake’ humbleness and seemingly, the epitome of the All American Dream. Something about them made you feel like the laziest son of a gun, despite the fact that you were already working 80 hours a week to try and match their lifestyle. That is, until 2006 when the market crashed and no one was able to keep up. Not even them.
Those who made irrational decisions based on the idea that having more would bring social acceptance became financially crumbled. The extent of the shortcomings went far beyond foreclosure, a bad credit report, and filing Chapter 7. Many of us were brought up to believe that material possessions weren't everything but the inability to duplicate the Joneses' way of life robbed us of much happiness. More than being in the red, was the sense of dissatisfaction that tagged along. Nevertheless, we kind of, sort of picked ourselves back up and restructured our lives until the next neighbors came along.
Enter, The Smiths.
The funny thing about the Smiths is, they aren’t living lavishly at all. On the contrary, they live well within their means and maybe even a tad bit under. They are smart enough to know it's important to save and being overly generous with their spending won't increase the return of any given experience. These kinds of people seem to have a refined concept of the things that really matter. That, my friends, is admirable. While it's important to look up to The Smiths for being hard working folks, there's a fine line between admiration and preoccupation. Part of the reason we still feel unrealized is because we fail to recognize that happiness doesn't follow one specific pattern. We’re overly preoccupied with mimicking the lives of others and relying on them to find the answers for us. The ingredients in the “happy” recipe are completely different for every individual and our sense of worth isn’t quantified by the things we lack or have, for that matter.
Trying to set up your foundation based on what others do is futile and will increase our sense of emptiness. As sad as it is to admit, even when we successfully accomplish things that make us happy, we don't allow the felicity enough time to set in before we're off to the next thing, in search of happiness yet again.
Start by allowing the blessings time to sink in and you’ll begin to comprehend the bigger picture. How often do we take a step back to evaluate all of the things we have? Most of the time, it’s the other way around. It’s important to make a conscious effort and appreciate all of our capabilities. Don’t take the power of gratitude for granted and let all the little things in your life take over (that's actually really fun!).
Next, choose what feels right for you. It’s great that The Smiths find pleasure in certain things, but being overly concerned with their lives and their actions negates us the ability to enjoy our own accomplishments and successes. Basing your decisions on your personal circumstances will decrease the likelihood that you’ll make a bad move.
Lastly, don’t be fooled by what you see on social media. Those squares share a moment, they don’t tell a story. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is eating and where they are going. But do we really know what goes on? Is it all smoke and mirrors? It’s not our business and it doesn’t matter. Commit yourself to finding your way. Happiness cannot be defined by one specific thing, but you’re less likely to come across it if you’re consumed with living vicariously through what you see on the web. You are enough. Live your life autonomously and visualize your own happiness.
But, if all else fails, then you'll have to turn to the Kardashians- something tells me they'd love to keep up with you.