The Joneses are pretty cool people. They have a beautiful home with all of the latest decor, awesome toys, and a new car every year. They are always dressed in fashionable clothing, down to the youngest child. They are constantly going on trips to exciting places all around the world. Their apparent success is the envy of the neighborhood because their lives seem so full and happy.
Is that why so many people spend their lives trying to emulate them at the expense of their financial freedom, their peace of mind, and even their individuality?
Do they seek happiness?
Does conformity to the latest trends in order to keep up with others bring happiness?
I submit that it does not. Stuff does not bring happiness, especially if that stuff is bought on credit that cannot immediately be repaid. The more likely result of that equation is stress, which is on the wrong end of the happiness spectrum.
If you are searching for happiness, stop looking to the Joneses for guidance. Instead, look for true joy in these six things:
1. Family – Even if your family situation is not perfect, family can be a source of great and lasting joy. Laugh with your children, love your spouse, and relish in the support of your parents and siblings.
2. Friends – True friends love you just the way you are. They do not make you feel like you need to compete in order to be accepted. Those kinds of friends are priceless, and will stay with you long after your new clothes go out of style. Seek them out, and then do whatever it takes to KEEP THEM.
3. Gratitude – It is hard to be unhappy when you count your blessings. There is always something to be grateful for…usually many things. This quote says it all:
“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown
My all time favorite post on gratitude was written by Glennon Doyle, and can be found here. (Trust me…it is well worth the read!)
4. Nature – Try taking a walk with eyes to see the beauty around you. Notice the smell of the air, the color of the sky, the stunning details of the trees and flowers, the song of the birds, and the feel of the breeze in your hair. There is beauty everywhere, and it will bless your life and lift your spirit if you take the time to notice.
5. Faith – This is a big one for me. My faith brings me more peace, purpose, and happiness than just about anything else. Trusting God helps me to sift through my priorities and make better decisions about what is important and what is not. You might have different religious beliefs than I do, but I truly believe that religion in general helps people to live more purposeful lives.
6. Yourself – One of the biggest lessons that I learned after emerging from years of feeling like I was drowning in my own inadequacies was this:
Don’t be fake just to fit in. People will be more comfortable with you if you are comfortable with yourself.
I will wait while you read that one again.
Nobody cares about how you look nearly as much as you do. They don’t care about the size of your feet, your nose, or your dress. They don’t care if you have your mom’s stringy hair or your dad’s pointy chin. They don’t care about how tall you are, if you are dressed in the latest styles, or how your home is decorated. (And if they do care about those things, perhaps it is time to find some new friends.) They care about YOU. They care about your personality, what makes you interesting, and how you treat others.
If you are genuine, people will be able to relate to you. They will feel comfortable being themselves when they are with you, which will make them want to be with you more. Not only that, but accepting yourself opens the door to a level of confidence and peace that is simply not possible if you spend all of your energy trying to measure up to your friends and neighbors. Confidence and peace will lead you in the direction of happiness far quicker than pretentiousness.
I am not saying that you should be content with mediocrity, or use the idea of “being yourself” as an excuse to be lazy, unkind, or judgemental.
I am saying that we all have our insecurities, but those insecurities should not be allowed to govern how we feel about ourselves, treat other people, spend our money, or live our lives.
Forget about the Joneses and focus instead on overcoming your own weaknesses, finding joy in your current situation, strengthening your faith, and living the very best life you can, regardless of what everybody else is doing.
It is a happy way to live.