Monday, May 5, 2008

Keeping Up With the Joneses

The Joneses...those ubiquitous neighbors who always seem to have what we don't long before we even realize that we want what they now have. That infamous family that acts as the ever rising benchmark for standard of living. The people with whom we feel we must keep up...or be hopelessly left behind. The ones with whom we are always comparing ourselves.

Now, lest you start to feel bad about comparing yourself to the Joneses, let me let you in on a little secret. The truth is...everyone compares. And it's not all bad.

We are constantly comparing. Your whole construct of who you think you are and how you fit in to the big picture is built on comparisons. We learn at an early age to identify and classify things in our environment according to similarities and differences. As we grow, we learn to make inferences, to see connections and to draw conclusions. This is how we continue to expand our understanding of the world.

So if making comparisons is a natural and necessary process, what exactly is the problem?

The problem is that social comparison can easily turn into social competition. Comparing yourself with the Joneses leads to the desire to keep up with the Joneses...or even surpass them. In essence we let our peers, neighbors, and society determine for us how we should look and what we need to buy in order to be "the best". This continual, nonstop need to acquire in order to compete is extremely stressful. You end up owning things that you have no use for or buying things that do not suit you just because those darn Joneses had one first.

In order to have a very small closet, you will have to curtail your social comparison. You will never be able to have a consistent look if your look changes as often as Madison Avenue would like it to. Notice new trends and form opinions about what you like and don't like, but don't follow the siren song of the Joneses down the path of TOO MUCH TOO OFTEN.

Because the truth is, even the Joneses are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Tomorrow is Question and Answer Day, and this time I will be answering some questions sent in by some of the fellas. See you then...same blog time...same blog channel...

Jennifer Skinner, Wardrobe Planning Expert


Tim Birch said...

"Freedom comes the day you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." RAH

I call this "follow the Follower' I left the 'City' to get away from the Prada wearers.

'TimBirch –Can it be better?

Susan said...

A lot of people don't realize that even the Joneses are trying to keep up to the Joneses -- good point. In fact, we, ourselves may actually be 'Joneses' to someone else ... go figure!

Good post again Jennifer

S Chambers said...

Keeping up with the Joneses isn't too bad in and of itself. The problem is that we only try to keep up with the Joneses in the material realm.

Think how much better the world would be if we tried to keep up with the Joneses in terms of lowering our carbon footprint, our impact on the environment or in our level of true spirituality.

Good seeing you in Philly Jenn.

Great post and great picture.

Steve Chambers

Aaron said...

I think that Keeping up with the Joneses has a great subtle power. Few people would probably say that's what they're doing, but there's a lot of social pressure on you when you standout "negatively".


Yann Vernier said...

Good point Jenn. Doesn't it all go down to getting that sense of belonging to a group? It seems like a way to offset our feelings of inadequacy.

But there's a fine balance between wearing what projects the image you want to portray and wearing what everyone else does (or arguably better clothing than everyone else).

Personal Development & Success Coach

Matthew Shields said...

I was actually just speaking with a "jones" yesterday. Really a great guy completely down to earth. He had a beautiful house beautiful property and was very well dressed.
We walked by his garage and in it he had a BMW I think it was a 740i (not sure if that is right not up on my model numbers). It was expensive you could tell.
I said oh BMW I've heard that they have alot of mechanical problems with them, have you had any? This was me just making conversation. He said you know it really dosn't get driven that much. to me it's more of a status symbol then anything.
I found that to be an incredably honest answer
focus your energy
Matthew Shields

April Braswell said...

Well, of course we're competing! :D That's part of the fun!

All the best,

Romance Coach, Online Personals Coach, Online Dating Coach, Romantic Relationship Coach