Do you see your friend’s business thriving and you can’t help but be a bit envious? How about that high school friend that you haven’t seen in 10 years that posted a picture of her new shiny car? Do you ever take a moment to also think that most likely, that new car just came with 60-72 months of high payments? Perceptions are certainly not always reality.
We all have these thoughts and let me tell you, they are SO normal! Even if we only think them, they plant a seed that we are somehow not where we should be or that everyone else is getting ahead but you.
Settle in with a nice cup of tea or coffee (or wine!)…..I’m going to tell you a little story. When I was in college, I dated a guy who had a married older brother. He and his wife would have us over to their house for dinner, movies and hanging out. I had just purchased my first “new” old car because my 1982 Toyota Tercel had not passed safety inspection and it was going to cost more to fix it then it was worth. I paid for my 1993 Honda Accord in cash and was excited to share it with them. I remember being a bit surprised at my boyfriend’s SIL’s reaction. She seemed almost annoyed. Next week, gone was her Tercel and hello fancy new Civic. I remember her calling me to say how excited she was to truly own a new car (as opposed to a new-to-me car). As the months passed, I noticed that if we purchased something, almost inevitably, they would have something similar the following week. This was my first experience of “keeping up with the Jones’” and I remember, even back then, that I thought the whole thing was weird.
My guess is, you are thinking of an experience in your past that might be similar to mine, right?
I grew up in a family that cherished vacations and experiences over things. As I look back on my childhood, I am so incredibly thankful that my parents were so purposeful on showing us the value of saving, giving and enjoying our money.
A couple of years after my experience with the boyfriend mentioned above (we are soooo history now), I took a course in Comparative Economics with Dr. Doug Brown. He had us watch this incredible PBS documentary called Affluenza. It really hit home for me. Why do we need our curtains to match our new couch? A purchase that we may think of as harmless such as a new couch can then cascade into a slew of additional purchases – curtains, rug, lamps etc. because we want everything to coordinate!
I always go back to gratitude. With gratitude, we have perspective. We no longer yearn for what we don’t have because we are so grateful for what we do have. We learn to be truly happy for our friends when they land a new job or buy a new car.
If you have an hour this week, have fun watching Affluenza (good ‘ol YouTube looks out for us!) and enjoy the late 90s hairstyles. Report back either here in the comments or in my Facebook group and let me know your thoughts.
Enjoy your life. Comparison just brings envy, unhappiness and unrealistic expectations. This is a reminder just as much for me as it is for you.
Now let’s go spread the joy! Next time a friend is excited to tell you something amazing that happened in her life or her business, do your best to be unconditionally happy for her. Think of only the positive things and experiences that she is going through and how great it is for her.
Feel her joy. Radiate with her.