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
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?