Let’s say you were worth millions and you could easily afford a Lamborghini or a yacht. Would you buy them? What else would you buy if you had the money? And would you post pictures of these objects on social media?
Now imagine that your friends see pictures of your new sports car or yacht and say to you, “You’re so lucky!” How would that make you feel? I’m guessing pretty good.)
If the idea of making your friends insanely jealous made you feel good–even a little smug–you’re not alone. The truth is, lots of people buy things just to impress others. Having the latest iPhone, Gucci handbag or new sports car gives us bragging rights. The problem is, these “bragging rights” can cost us a fortune in the long run. And we shouldn’t have to make others feel jealous to feel better about ourselves.
Why We Want To Make Others Jealous
But first, let’s examine the structure of jealousy. In order for there to be envy, there must be a comparison that takes place. Comparing yourself to others and them comparing themselves to you gives each of you a barometer. Otherwise, how would you each know how you’re doing?
Imagine you’re driving down the freeway in your 10-year old Honda and a guy flies past you in that new Lamborghini. You look at it him and wonder how he became so successful and probably think his life must be really exciting. Then you suddenly feel sad—like you’re missing out and somehow a failure.
Now imagine everyone drove the same decade-old Honda with the same ding in the door and faded white color. Now there’s no barometer and without something to compare yourself to, you have no idea if you’re doing this life thing right or not. So when the other person feels jealous, it’s a signal to you that you’re on the right path.
Jealousy from another person also makes you feel special—and everyone likes to think they’re special somehow. If we have to admit to ourselves that we’re not special then it’s basically saying that we’re boring and not really “living.”
Choose Financial Freedom Instead
You have to replace this desire to make others jealous with a stronger desire to become financially set. Imagine you only have $500 to your name. Now imagine you have 5 million. Feel the difference? When you have lots of money in the bank, you can walk around with a low-key but sophisticated swagger. But if you’re blowing your paychecks on expensive items you really can’t afford, then as fast as you can swipe your MasterCard, you’ll go from bragging to broke.
I always recommend that people look for some spiritual peace as well. Without some sort of spiritual foundation, we look for external cues to tell us we’re worthy. Whether it’s Buddhism, Christianity, joining the mindful movement or something else, find something that fulfills you spiritually. Even just reading a book like A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle can help you feel more fulfilled without having to spend your way to more confidence.
The next time you want something like a designer handbag, a new car or some other item you may not need or can afford, ask yourself why you want it. Are you imagining the looks on other people’s faces when you pull up in your new Jaguar or show them the Rolex on your wrist? If so, you might want to take a step back. Trying to get an envious reaction out of someone else is never a good reason to buy something. In fact, it’s foolish. Have the confidence and smarts to put your financial health first.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have standards. Everyone should have standards. We should always strive to take care of the things we own–keep our places clean and updated, maintain our cars etc. But spending money to maintain and clean your three year-old Toyota is different than taking out a car loan to buy a Lexus just so you can “look rich” to other people. The former is common sense and pride; the latter is just stupid.
The Best Feeling Comes From Being Financially Set
Knowing the motivation for wanting others to feel envy is a step in the right direction to reducing your spending. But if there’s still a part that seeks validation from others then the best thing you can do is to spend less and increase your income so that you can grow you bank account as quickly as possible. Being financially responsible and building wealth will bring you more joy and peace, which will feel better than any amount of outside envy.
Being fiscally responsible sets a good example for those around you, which will be much more rewarding in the end for you, both emotionally and financially:)