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 see what those around you have. How else can you make sure what you have is the best, 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.
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 also called “Keeping up with Joneses”…and why should I be interested in keeping up with these Joneses people? I DON’T EVEN KNOW THEM.
The Joneses – A Deceptive Trap
Often in reality, the Joneses actually aren’t who we think they are.
In reality, the Joneses are broke.
The Joneses are stressed out.
The Joneses are living paycheck to paycheck.
The Joneses aren’t really happy.
…In fact, the Joneses are downright miserable.
Trust me, you do not want to be the Joneses.
The Joneses are Self-Motivated
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. 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 also to live for God.
You cannot have both. It just doesn’t work that way.
As I have mentioned before, in my past I wanted the best of everything. And believe it or not, I still have to fight those temptations sometimes. I am prone to looking around to see what everyone else has.
But at some point in my life I realized that’s not how I want to live. There is no peace there. No happiness. I was like the Joneses I was trying to imitate – I was downright miserable.
And the best part is, 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.
Looking back on things, I simply didn’t have room for Him before. I thought I did. But I realize now I was only deceiving myself. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be. It’s true.
I have learned with time that 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, can you let Him work in you and through you.
The Highest Goal
There are those who truly want to make God’s will their highest goal in every moment of the day. They strive to do all things without considering their own convenience or inconvenience.
I honestly thought I was like this, or at least becoming this way. But then I started to realize that whenever I was trying to do what I saw as “the better thing”, it only worked for me, as long as this did not interfere with all the other things I was focused on obtaining for myself.
Throughout the last year or so I have read many websites, focused on the topic of simplicity and minimalism. And I truly believe everyone who writes about this topic is sincere in wanting to help others escape the trap that is materialism.
But many of them, I believe, have missed a large component. There is much talk about the “freedom” that comes with a more simple life. You can rest more, travel more, and spend more time with family. The list goes on and on.
And I completely agree that there is good in all of these things. They’re important and often necessary.
But 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.
I think most people would agree that they desire peace and a firm, lasting happiness in 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.
I am going to continue to fight the temptations to consumerism, materialism and excessiveness. I am going to stop comparing myself to others.
And when I see the Joneses, and I am tempted to think how nice their things are, I’ll realize, “They’re not real.”
But God is real. And He is happiness. And that’s where I want my focus to be.
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 GrowInVirtue.com, which focuses 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.