I will admit that for the longest time, I tried to run with the Joneses. Maybe it is because I did not want for anything as a child, and I was proud that I had more than others. Instead of feeling grateful, I felt entitled. Instead of counting my blessings, I expected more.
When I finally became an adult and fell upon rough times, I was suddenly very aware of how others in my age group were moving ahead while I was moving backward. Needlesstosay, even though I could not afford it, I was trying to keep up, like I was in some kind of race and I was lagging behind. It was a great deal of pressure trying to figure out what was the perceived right way to live. I would spend hours budgeting and re-budgeting trying to figure it all out. Every time I knew I had it all worked out on paper, a major appliance would break, the car would need repair, or some part of the house would need care. I sometimes got so upset that I felt that the universe was working against me.
Why me? I’m a good person. I’m educated. I work hard at life. I am not looking for a handout, I am just looking to get ahead.
I stopped and asked myself a very important question: What do I perceive as getting ahead? What is it that I want out of my life: is it to feel success, significance, and importance?
After some reflection, I realized I was basing all of my achievement off of material perception; I was measuring my prosperity against what those around me had and were doing. Many of my friends have bigger houses, nicer cars, and take better vacations. I thought I was falling short. I will admit I felt envious, even covetous of what others had.
I knew it was not healthy. I decided to stop and ignore the outside distractions and just be. I took a deep breath. I paused. I had a transcendental moment, a moment of perfect clarity. I need to focus on how I can feel fully vested and fulfilled in my own life.
I suddenly realized that material wealth is not what fully satiates me. I am glad I am not destitute and I have a way of providing a very comfortable life for my family and myself, but I decided it was time to focus on needs compared to wants. My wants drive my envy. In actuality, my needs are quite satisfied. Thus, no matter if I ever move into a bigger house, no matter if I ever buy an expensive car, no matter if I ever shop at Tiffany’s, I am not defined by these items.
Even more important, when I die, how will I be remembered? Will friends at my wake sneer at the car that I owned? Will relatives scoff at the fact that I lived my entire adult-life in a house with one bathroom? Will acquaintances roll my dead, lifeless body over to check the designer label of my funeral attire? Of course not; they will remember me for the quality of my life.
I reevaluated how I perceived myself. I have already achieved success, and I continue to strive to say something that matters, show kindness to others, and be strong in the face of adversity. To be significant I continue to champion causes that bring about positive change, and to accomplish this goal, I must always suck from the marrow of life. Lastly, to feel important, I must constantly remember that my legacy will be the way people remember me, that I will impress more people with goodness than a bank roll, and that no matter what, whoever dies with the most toys doesn’t win because dead is dead, no matter what.