I love a good Christmas list. I begin making mine right after Halloween and always have. They used to be construction paper collages of toy magazine cut outs all wrinkly after adhering the paper with Elmer’s glue. Now they are digital spreadsheets denoting size and vendor as to make it easy on the gift giver. I take my Christmas lists seriously.
Ultimately, I always have a list of wants. And I am the typical child who as soon as she gets one toy, instead of being satisfied, is eager to get the next.
There is some high we get from the wish list. It can be compared to goal setting; instead of reaching our goal, we scored a new pair of kicks for 1/2 off! YEAH BABY!
But it also has the potential to be very dangerous to our minds.
With the birth of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, the world around us seems perfect. People post pictures of their families on exotic vacations with giant smiles. Pictures of delicious dinners made from scratch make your mouth water. Pinterest boasting the perfectly decorated homes and the perfect accessories to every outfit.
Meanwhile, my floors haven’t been mopped in weeks. The laundry is literally never done. Homemade dinner?! Nice joke. The dirty dishes stack, get clean just to be stacked again after the next meal. My girls’ hair is unkempt and they earned the prestigious cavity award at the last visit to the dentist. So, no. We are not keeping up with the Joneses.
I don’t know where the jealousy comes from, but it is overwhelming. At times I feel that I need a new job to earn more money to be able to do what it seems everyone else is doing. Other times, I feel I need to quit my job and be a better mom, wife and homemaker. It is guilt from every angle. No matter which way I turn, I have made the wrong choice because it is a different choice from my social media pals.
Through meditation I have realized though it isn’t about keeping up or even competing with the Joneses or my FB friends. Self-compassion and gratitude are the essential to breaking this second arrow.
Taking time to be thankful for our progression through life or career helps us appreciate our current lot in life. Remembering the time I interviewed hoping to earn this position helps me find happiness in it. I also think of the neat lessons I may be teaching my kids unknowingly about the abilities of a working mom and work ethic. Focusing on the perks of the job can help appreciate the job. These are things I can allow guilt to drift away like a cloud in the wind as I give myself compassion and permission to let go of guilt.
I recently read a quote on social media saying “give yourself grace.” Yes! Often we are our hardest critics. Although improvement is valid and honorable, becoming a head case trying to become one of the Joneses is not! Give yourself grace! Try again tomorrow. As long as you did your best today – that is all you literally can do!
Meditation also helps put a person into the present moment in which all things have beauty. Each sunrise is a unique moment for which to be thankful. Gratitude can be found for even the minivan I am often embarrassed to ride around in with my husband. Many people are much worse off than I am right here in the neighborhood let alone the world. I am thankful for that classless T & C (Town and Country for those of you who are not lucky enough to be in the minivan community). Begrudgingly sometimes, but even so – thankful.
So no. I am not keeping up with the Joneses. I am not even trying anymore. I am not competing with the Joneses either. I am actually happy for them. Way to go Joneses. I love your new car without jealousy. I enjoy seeing you on vacations with your kids without carrying guilt. I am proud of your accomplishments and am in your corner when you set a new goal. GO Joneses GO!
This Thanksgiving season be truly thankful…for just whatever you already have. Have self-compassion. Your position in life is just perfect and intended. You have the choice and free will to change it, but do so out of reasons other than guilt, jealousy or anger. And support others as they struggle by giving them thanks and celebrating them where they are to build a whole world of Thanksgiving.