How Not To Keep Up With The Joneses

Having trouble keeping up with the joneses? Join the club.

Two quotes struck me this week:

“Healing is always a collective experience, just as abuse is always a collective experience. Tragically, our culture has become more skilled at collective trauma than it is at collective healing. It is up to us, you and I to change that pattern.” Stephanie Mines, PhD


“It is no measure of good health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Why We Keep Up With The Joneses

I am of the opinion that our American culture is over commercialized. And that causes many of the problems we face. It invites competition, judgment and individualism. These disconnects us from community, from nature, from each other and from our very selves. It has us feeling lonely, increases fear because it is hard to trust our disconnected self. We feel less-than and inherently flawed. There is no way to measure up to impossible standards. Anything negative anyone has said to us in the past gets a spotlight and becomes how we define ourselves.

This is why it is harder to recover from past hurts in our culture than other cultures. Our “individualism” makes it harder.

Who are the Joneses?

It has us all too often seeing negative and complaining, rather than noting the positive and feeling grateful. We are programmed to see our lack. Also, we think happiness is meeting some unseen, unrealistic expectation–either being thin enough, strong enough, cool enough, good enough when “enough” doesn’t exist. We are trying to adjust to our “sick” society. And it is like a hamster wheel. We run faster and still get no where but to the sad town of Discouraged. There are no Jones. Jones is in our head.


This is “American” on our worst days. But fortunately none of us are like this all the time!

Sometimes when we feel good, the paradigm shifts. We act more like a community, and compassionately help others. We forgive and make up, and we are happy for people without being jealous. Also, we are thankful that we arrived at work safely instead of stressed that we hit too many red lights. (What if it was those red lights that saved your life?) We turned our backs on competition in favor of collaboration. We stop accumulating stuff to entertain us and give away things instead. And, we spent more time talking to people instead of watching TV, we share our resources and our knowledge. We are creative, eat more whole foods, get more exercise, have more fun, and forgo yet another plastic cup.

We feel good about ourselves when we are like this. And we can heal ourselves when we are like this.

And, we are here when we let go of keeping up and stop pushing ourselves to be more. We have to just be ourselves, just look around us, breathe and see with a beginner’s mind, with awareness and appreciation. We have to respect (“re spect”= look again), take a new look at everything giving it new untainted meaning. “Things” are only special because of the meaning we attach to them. For some people a fallen leaf can have greater meaning than their new couch because of who gave it to them. A toothbrush can have great meaning if you grew up without one. Think about why we give more importance to one thing over another?

Today I am going to commit to thinking before I take any action, thinking “Is this action is for how I want to see the world?” Or am I doing this to “Keep up with the Joneses?” If it is for a peaceful and just world, I will engage, if not I will look again.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” ~ Gandhi

What did this post have you reflecting on? What came to your mind as I was describing the importance of things? 

39 thoughts on “How Not To Keep Up With The Joneses”

  1. Nice post, thanx. I can still learn a lot by practicing so you make a good point. And thanx for the tip …………….

  2. If you concentrate too much on the negatives all you experience of the positives is a Whoosh as they pass you by and go out of reach.

    It is I think human nature to try and emulate others who you think have done better or have something you want. That’s what youngsters do with the modern so called “pop stars”, they try and be what they think they are, and invariably they get it wildly wrong.

    Over the years I have known a few Americans personally and to be honest I have never come across a more laid back, friendly and kind bunch of people.

    Personally I am happy with who I am, why try and emulate others who no doubt have as many problems and troubles as I have. I am reminded of an interview I saw some time ago on the TV, they were interviewing a man who had won the top prize in the UK lottery.

    The interviewer said to him “Well this win means all your problems are sorted.” His reply was “Rubbish the money has just given me different problems.” He was spot on.

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      So nice of you to say. Of course all of my bestest friends are American and they are all good people. We are all good. I like to balme the culture not the people, but by seeing what the culture invites us to, we can make our own decisions more readily. We don’t get carried up in it.

      Thanks for sharing !

      1. We get a lot of foreign visitors at the railway and I will admit Americans and Canadians are my favourites, always so polite.

        They put a few Europeans to shame. North Americans always seem so laid back and determined irrespective of the weather to enjoy their visit.

  3. “We are programed to see our lack.”–That sentence especially caught my attention. I automatically focus on lack, on what I want to have that I don’t have, whether it is a thing or a situation. I don’t yearn for things as much as perfect situations, for things to be as I want them to be. I have begun to make a real effort to remember my blessings and focus on the positive and the good in every situation. Thank, Jodi, for another great post! 🙂
    Tina Barbour recently posted..Depression is dangerousMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Thanks Tina! No one makes effort like you! I wonder what would happen to the OCD if you stop judging? I have seen OCD stop by tweaking this one thing.

  4. Jodi, no one can ever say they walk away from your blog feeling like they haven’t learned something new or felt inspired to change negative thinking patterns! We are indeed conditioned to focus on our lack of accomplishments and not on what we have achieved. I think this is what spurs so much competitiveness. And I don’t mean the healthy kind. Instead, the one where we compete with neighbors and even family members to have bigger houses, larger lawns, better cars. It’s deplorable. I can’t think of one instance in my life where I have suffered from the Joneses syndrome. I try to focus on what I have and not on what I don’t. I will confess to sometimes thinking of what it would be nice to have, but that doesn’t affect me into feeling badly because I don’t have whatever it is. I think it’s important to be better role models for our children. Sadly, this is a pattern of behavior that is absorbed by our young ones and the cycle continues. We must work harder to break the cycle and in the process, place value on what really matters.
    Bella recently posted..Are you still awake?My Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Bella! Good for you for saying “no”! I think it is becoming increasingly harder to model for our kids, because commercialism is against us. Making it ever harder to counter the messages that you deserve and having this or that proves worth. Ugh! I guess in every era, it is hard to be parents, but still so worth it! xo

  5. There are some who would argue that a competitive nature is what keeps America innovative and a leader of the pack. To lose that competitive edge would mean a slide into mediocrity. I think that competitiveness survives when people view things as a zero-sum game — someone always has to lose or not get accepted into the program or not get the job. It’s hard to challenge that belief system and I don’t have the answers, but I wish it were different!
    Laura Zera recently posted..Travel: A Very Un-Guyana VisitMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Laura, I can be really competitive when I don’t keep myself in check. So, I speak as I am part of the problem. But that arguement seems like an excuse for America to stay the bully. We wouldn’t slide into mediocrity, we’d slide into higher consciousness!

  6. HI Jodi,

    Rightly said, Jones is actually in our head. Our mind put us in a position where we are more focused on what we don’t have rather than being thankful and grateful for what we have.

    Thanks for this share.


    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Thanks, Sapna! I agree. When we are grateful we are much happier and less likely to covet what we don’t have. I am happy for your comment!

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Some people thought I was too down on Americans, but I know there is goodness in us or why would I be here trying to pull it out and help people let it shine? Sometimes we do have to admit our fears and what they have us doing. People often think we need competition so we are not mediocre, I think striving to be better can occur without competition. (And I am really competitive person when I don’t keep myself in check.) Thanks for commenting!

  7. Not keeping up with everyone else is a big thing for me. I try to hold it in, to set a better example for the kids. It’s hard.

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      OMG, our kids need our example so much, there is so much to counter all they are learning “out there” in the world.

  8. Frick. It’s hard. I think social media makes it worse – do you agree? It’s all a big pissing contest isn’t it?

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Oh yeah! Anytime you take something with numbers, it makes it all to o easy to compare and it invites us in like mosquitos to flame. We have to be careful not to be obsesses with RTs!

  9. So enjoyed reading, Jody. Thank you.

    This of yours caught me…
    “We are here when we let go of keeping up and stop pushing ourselves to be more. We have to just be ourselves, just look around us, breathe and see with a beginner’s mind, with awareness and appreciation. We have to respect (“re spect”= look again), take a new look at everything giving it new untainted meaning.”

    Got me thinking of…Looking with new eyes (new ways of perceiving/sensing the visible and invisible also).

    The visible is so dominant it seems to me, in our culture. “Re-specting” or “looking a second time” perhaps gets us to go beneath this prevailing first look surface of self or other’s face, or social/personal identity and in this way we might suspend judgment. The second look may remind us that we all are human simply. Alike in so many ways.

    Also, got thinking of my mentor don Miguel Ruiz. The voice in ALL his books has been a wonderful teacher to me. In his bk “Fifth Agreement” he reminds us(me) to always listen and have respect…well, not exactly…he says to me…”you choose” to change or not. Make a heaven or a hell.

    Again, thanks, Jody!

    Peace & blessings!

  10. Such a provocative post Jodi. At first, I thought – that’s not me. I do my own thing. I’m not a massive consumer etc. But then I dug a little deeper and thought about all the times where I have wanted my kids to have the best (more for the sake of appearances) or wanted to be seen in a certain light, professionally.

    It’s challenging to escape the mentality but I’m going to ‘re-spect’ and be more aware, moving forward.

  11. Same as Kirri I have done things for my children just so that they are like everyone else. Not so much because I care what anyone else thinks, but more so because otherwise my children may feel left out compared to everyone else. Which makes me think, what am I really teaching them?

  12. Whenever, I find myself wanting something very badly, I look around and see my beautiful house, my loving husband, think about my children, and the freedom i have, which many people may not have , and all the other things I already have, the badly wanted things just fizzles out from my mind. I feel really grateful for all the goodness I already have, and feel absolutely satisfied.
    rama recently posted..Children: My ChildrenMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Rama, I cannot comment on your blog bc of your comment settings. I wanted to say: “What gorgeous children you have! You have done a wonderful job and they picked up and make great lives for themselves. You truly have tons to be grateful for!”

  13. I used to feel that way about having a special needs child. I would compare my situation to others, trying to find someone who had it “harder” than I did. It was a form of denial and repression of my own grief. So how did that work for me? Not so great. Realizing that my path was right for me, and that my children’s paths were right for them, helped me finally stop and rest in blessed contentment.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Get Over It!My Profile

  14. Materialism came to my mind as I read this. I have gotten stuck before thinking I needed to keep up with the Joneses and failing and then being depressed because of it. I am working on mindfulness and breathing and just taking my life one day at a time and being the best me and not comparing myself to others as hard as it may be at times. : D

    Thanks for the post.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted..Am I gay, straight or bi?My Profile

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