How to Stop Jonesin’ and Deal with Jealousy During the Holidays
What is Jonesin’?
When I was a young penniless college student, my best friend and I would drive in affluent neighborhoods during Christmas time and look at the decorations adorning magnificent homes and expansive yards. Sometimes there would be parties with valets, and luxury cars would add to the glowing lights and dreamy appeal. We would “ooh” and “ahh” and admire the things we didn’t have, and when we saw something we really liked, we would point and make the comment, “I’m Jonesin’ for that.” It was our way of acknowledging the abundance of others as we admitted our lack and our desire to be and keep up with the” Joneses” in a wealthy world in which we did not belong. We were dreamy-eyed and inspired by our jealousy to create more. We wanted those worlds.
Through the years, I have seen some strange ways that people live beyond their means as they try to “keep up with the Joneses” and live in that world. Jill has a huge, beautiful home devoid of furniture because she cannot afford anything more than the bare necessities. Jack has a luxury car that makes heads turn when he pulls into the parking lot, yet he lives in a rat-infested shack or apartment. Raggedy Anne wears an exquisite dress to a black tie affair, then replaces the price label and returns the dress for a full refund the next day.
THE SCIENCE IN KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Are these people jealous, delusional, or are they the people that my younger self was Jonesin’ for as I aspired to become them? There is no easy answer to this.
Scientists have discovered that humans have been conditioned to desire things. When we accomplish something that we desire, our brain surges with and hormones such as serotonin and dopamine—in essence, our “happy” hormones. These same drugs are released when we feel “rewarded,” as it is a form of affirmation for our accomplishment. It is the reason we encourage others to celebrate the small successes in their lives, especially since these hormones have the same effect on our brain as cocaine.
The two hormones work together as they surge through the brain and body and transmit the feeling of accomplishment and the desire for repeated success. Dopamine is the hormone that motivates us to accomplish something, and it is the main hormone that maps the ways we have already succeeded so we may repeat our glorious achievement. Serotonin, the hormone that lights up our brains when we feel significant and important, triggers the dopamine to help us feel that way again. And so the pattern emerges.
Now, think of salespeople in places like Ferrari dealerships, Barney’s, Harry Winston’s or Tiffany’s. They work on commission; their job is to make us feel important and significant, and they claim we will feel more so when people see us in this beautiful car, dress, or earrings. Their job is to create a surge of serotonin, because our brains will then “realize” that to keep this feeling, we need to accomplish the goal of purchasing whatever it is we have in our hands at the moment, everything else be damned.
Buyer’s remorse may come later. How does one recover from buyer’s remorse? This thought alone triggers dopamine, along with the memory of how the last high was achieved (message: go buy something else). So, how does one accomplish this? Maybe Raggedy Anne maxes out credit cards. Perhaps Jill returns something in order to purchase something else. Jack eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Ramen noodles like a college kid or survives without air conditioning in order to pay for that sweet ride.
And all along, something inside whispers to us we are not like the Joneses. We are not really in the world of our wealthier neighbors. This may lead to resentment, jealousy, and more depression. And we are still Jonesin’, because we think we lack something. WE DON’T.
5 WAYS TO STOP JONESIN’ FOR OTHER LIVES
- Reclaim your own name. When you meet a person for the first time and you part ways, what is the strongest memory you have of that person when you get home? Is this the kind of memory you want others to have of you? What legacy do you want to leave? What do you truly want others to remember about you when you leave a room, a party, or an interview? Click To Tweet THIS, my dear friend, is where you can concentrate your focus. This is where you reclaim and own your name.
- Remember your gifts. Hey, Cupcake! YOU are a wonderful gift to the world! Click To Tweet. If you can’t remember this, you can go to this blog or this blog for reminders. Forget the fancy packaging. What gift are you supposed to share with us? Is it truly a Tiffany’s watch? Can you honestly share a car with the world? I am not saying you should feel bad if you have these things (if they make you happy, rejoice!). I am saying that these things do not make you a better person. Remember your unique gifts, and remember to share with as many people as possible.
- Take stock of your wealth. Sometimes, we do not realize all the abundance around us, for two reasons: 1) it is such a part of us that we accept our prosperity just as we accept the oxygen we breathe; and 2) people have made us feel shame or guilt for having whatever we have. One day I realized I had the kind of life that some people would look at and say, “Oooh, I’m Jonesin’ for that.” Not that I want a life that people envy, but I understand that I do have an abundant life: I have great health, a car that is paid in full, and clothes for every season with cute shoes to match. My bet is that you have abundance in your life, too. You just have to pay attention to it. Where do you live? Do you have more than one pair of anything? Do you have abilities that people admire or appreciate? Do your skills give you success in more than one way? Be creative. Allow yourself to enjoy and appreciate what you have. You may not have untold fortunes, but you can allow yourself to feel happy for your fortunate blessings.
- Forget about the Joneses. Remember #1. This is about you, Cupcake. This is about what you have, what you want to share, and what gift and light you bring to the world. Appearances can be deceiving. You have no idea what is on the other side of the door of that mansion you covet; it may have faulty plumbing, black mold in the walls, or be completely barren of any comforts that make it a home. Ferraris are constantly in the shop (which may explain why Prince Charming lives in that ratty home). And someone may be mortgaged up to her eyeballs just to keep up her pretty appearances. You do not know Mrs. Jones’s situation behind closed doors. She may have an absolutely perfect life with an absolutely perfect family, and feel absolutely miserable (which means something is not perfect, after all). Or she may have everything, and be absolutely blissful. That is not a reason to hate or envy her; it is a reason to celebrate abundance.
- Treat yourself without spending a dime. This is something Rikka Zimmerman suggests every time she discusses handling finances. If you can spend money, try something new: go into a store, find something you like, and tell yourself, “I can buy that if I want to.” Imagine yourself owning this item, and allow yourself to feel the pleasure of this. Then, leave. Without spending a dime. If you think you may be tempted to purchase, leave your credit cards at home. Another suggestion: first, go to a place where you KNOW you can afford everything, and you have no real desire to purchase something. Studies have shown that truly knowing we can purchase something and not buying it triggers both the dopamine and serotonin, and we realize we do not have to buy something to be happy. Guess what? A NEW PATTERN EMERGES FOR THE BRAIN TO MAP! Do this as often as you like. As you get comfortable with this, go to slightly more expensive places and repeat. The more maps you can build, the stronger the connection, the more likely you are to start feeling abundant, and like attracts like.
- Be kind to yourself. Do not feel guilty for what you have; you deserve all good things in your life. Do not go Jonesin’ for things you don’t have. Repeat after me: I (the loudest word of all) I AM ABUNDANT. I AM WILLING TO BE PROSPEROUS. I GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO ACKNOWLEDGE MYSELF AND MY GIFTS. I GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO BE HAPPY. Say it loud and proud!
Then go do something nice for yourself. Meditate. Do your favorite workout or get a massage. Share a drink or a laugh with a pal. Cook your favorite dish and ask friends to bring some wine. Sit on the porch and watch a sunrise or sunset. Play with your kid. Play with your pet. Better yet, go take a nap with the fur face.
Let someone else start Jonesin’ for your life.
So, Cupcake, what do you do when you find yourself Jonesin’ for something? How do you change your thought patterns? Feel free to share, as you are sending out a karmic boomerang!
As always, let me know how it’s going, and stay frosted!