Do you ever find yourself comparing what you have (or what you don’t have) to your family? Friends? Neighbors? Colleagues? It is a dangerous game to play, and nobody wins in the end. The reason why nobody wins in the end is because envy, jealousy and covetousness tend to build up in our hearts.
You’ve seen it happen. A co-worker shows up one day with a brand new car. You think, “I wonder how much the payment is. Can they afford the payment? I wonder if it is a lease or purchase – both are finance options which are ridiculous!”
When you begin to compare with others you are telling yourself that you aren’t happy because you don’t have what X person has. You are telling yourself that since Y family has those things or goes on those vacations, that you should too. It’s only fair right? WRONG. You are comparing their chapter 20 to your chapter 1. We are all in the same book here on Earth, but we are in different chapters and on different journeys. That is why they call it “Personal Finance.”
What’s worse is when you start to tell yourself that those people that have what you don’t, shouldn’t have any of it. Why shouldn’t they? Nobody knows what they have been through to get to where they are at today. Nobody knows what kind of sacrifices they made and for how long in order to enjoy certain “luxuries” in life. And who are we to define luxuries? One person’s view of luxuries could be vastly different from yours. Also, nobody knows if they borrowed money to get what they have, or if they paid for it outright. We need to mind our own business and keep our speculation out of the equation.
I am trying to change my posture and outlook on social media. People tend to post their best lives on social media – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok etc.. You rarely see people post vulnerable photos or videos of them struggling to get clothes on their children to get out of the house for the day, the fight that they just had before they arrived at church, or the financial stress/stack of bills they find themselves in when they get back from their vacation. I don’t post on social media to make anyone jealous of what I have. Instead, I post on social media so I can remember what I accomplished throughout the years. It helps me reflect on where I have been: good, bad and/or ugly.
Comparison game can also invite judgment: where you judge others for their actions. Perhaps you do know the family’s situation and think, “they definitely should not be going on vacation when they are in debt!” or “they can’t afford that.” This type of thinking creates discontentment in our own lives and hardens our hearts so that we can’t even be happy for their vacation or their success. Besides, who are we to be “high and mighty” and policing the actions of others?
How great would it be if we could all just be happy and content with what we have, knowing that stuff won’t make us happy. The less stuff we have the more we have, can I get an AMEN? We live in a materialistic society and it is very difficult to change our mindset with all the media and advertisements flooding our brainwaves. Our family is attempting to be counter-cultural and truly celebrate others’ successes and be happy for them.
In conclusion, here is what I am proposing we do – take a long hard look into our own lives to see if any of these are ruling over us: Envy. Jealousy. Covetousness. Judgment. I am committing to be more conscientious about my thinking when it comes to scrolling social media. I am trying to limit my time with alarms or reminders to say how long I have been in the app. In doing so, I don’t allow the above thoughts to creep in and take a foothold where they have no business doing so. What will you do to avoid those feelings?