Author: Michael Tominac
Almost everyone is familiar with the term, “Keeping up with the Joneses”, whereby people feel a need to compete with others by attaining new material objects and milestones of success in order to feel that they have worth. In the past, the main competition was located in your immediate environment, such as the neighbors on your street or those living in your community. Today, with advances in technology, the neighborhood has grown much bigger.
Everyone has experienced this phenomenon at one point in life, the first time probably as a child. A friend gets a new toy, the latest sneakers, or their family goes on a Disney World vacation, and the sinking feeling sets in that you don’t match up. Or perhaps you experienced your parents’ attempt at keeping up with the Joneses and felt the uncertainty and insecurity that comes with that pursuit. And of course, we are certainly exposed to this throughout our lives when watching various media and entertainment programming.
Through the 24 hour a day, 365 day a year availability of numerous communication platforms and sources of media and entertainment programming, we now have the ability to follow the moment to moment activities and lifestyles of people living almost anywhere in the world. The Joneses have gone global and the “keeping up” phenomenon has been taken to another level.
Our societal definitions of success have also changed. Success is now widely defined as having extreme wealth, being famous, driving an expensive car, being a singer, actor, model, athlete or a reality TV star. Where a white picket fence would once do, a now virtually unattainable mark of achievement has been set. The Kardashians, and those like them in the manufactured and artificial reality portrayed by the media and entertainment industry, have become the new Joneses. We are constantly being sold this definition of success and it often comes at a high cost. What part of ourselves do we have to suppress or sacrifice in order to achieve this level of success? And is it worth it?
The pursuit of the inauthentic usually leads to unhappiness. If we are only fulfilled when we achieve the next level of success that has been set by the Joneses, what happens if we don’t reach that benchmark?
Keeping up with the Joneses is a self-imposed system of control. Similar to political correctness, it induces groupthink, which suppresses individuality and inhibits the expression of the authentic self. It’s a trap that fosters unhealthy and unproductive competition, puts you out of balance and compromises your ability to truly self-actualize.
Nothing is birthed through conformity other than the desire to rebel. How can you possibly live your dream and come from an authentic place when you are busy trying to fulfill someone else’s definition of success? It is a fear-based ideology generated from insecurity and the need to belong or be accepted. The question is, belong to what and be accepted by whom?
Watching television, movies, sports or other programming isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you don’t measure yourself by this manufactured, packaged reality or live vicariously through it. When media and entertainment are consumed consciously, your mind can be positively distracted from the stresses of daily life and your creativity can flourish. Perhaps it can provide you with inspiration and hope for your own journey. But inspiration without action amounts to wasted potential.
Often it is easier to believe in the fantasy and be satisfied by it than it is to take action towards your own dreams. Watching the success of others does not move you forward on your own journey unless you take steps down your desired path.
Dreaming alone costs nothing. It is risk-free and takes almost zero effort. However, taking strategic action towards realizing your dreams is a different story and opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Pursuing your dreams is infinitely more interesting than any media or entertainment that you could possibly watch. If you care to view any programming, make it a small part of your life, not life itself.
The authentic self doesn’t care about competing with others.
So, if you feel like you are stuck in the Joneses’ loop, ask yourself: When did you begin to define yourself and your worth by what others are doing or by what others have? How is it serving you? What is the feeling you get when you feel obligated to compete with your neighbor? Do you feel inferior? Why? Who says that you should? Whose belief system and definition of success are you using to judge yourself? How has this mindset taken you out of your own game? How has it impacted what you want or wanted to do in this life?
We can be free from the programming that keeps us down and prevents us from actualizing our dreams. It starts with a new definition of success that is truthfully defined by the individual.
What does success really mean to you? What do you really want to achieve in this life? What are your dreams? If your dreams come from an authentic place, you are already the embodiment of those dreams. Your potential is just waiting to be realized. The question is: Do you have the courage to live them?
Copyright © 2016 Michael Tominac. All rights reserved. Full re-post only with permission.