Those damn Joneses…I just can’t seem to keep up with them!

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I usually do is login to Facebook and Instagram. The “fear of missing out” and having to know what everyone is up to from years ago has now turned into my morning routine. That routine is often filled with thoughts like: “Oh wow, another engagement; or look how happy that couple is, they seem to have the perfect white picket fence life; and even more often, “look at their new car, house vacation, outfit, their babies that never cry, or that relationship that seems effortless and perfect etc. How can they afford all that stuff? I want stuff like that too!”

At some point I realized how people always seem to show their best faces on social media. Did you ever notice how common posts tend to be about all the beautiful things we have, the exotic, expensive trips we take, how happy we are in our relationships – and other things like that?  The funny thing about this cycle of social media is that we then end up trying to constantly “keep up with the Joneses” (or the Kardashians) and be like everyone else. So we make these same kinds of posts that perpetually contribute to the false front about how “fictitiously perfect” our lives are. The thing is, if we aren’t careful, this habit of trying to keep up with the social media Joneses can lead us toward living beyond our means and potentially some serious financial distress.

Luckily, the way out of this cycle is as easy as a shift in perspective on your life. The fact is, we live in a world where 1 percent of the population holds a whopping 48 percent of the planet’s wealth! So it’s easy to get frustrated and feel bad about where you are with your own income and life situation. But I think it’s important that we stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and start working at being happy with our current situation in life. We need to start appreciating the amazing lives we all truly have. And, it’s actually a key part of your yoga practice!

Start appreciating the amazing life you have

A great way to gain some perspective on what you have is to look at how your income compares on a worldwide scale. According to the Global Rich List, if you have an annual income of about $42,000 CAD per year, you are in the top 1 percent of global incomes (as of 2016). That means the majority of Canadians are amongst some of highest income earners in the world – and you’re living much better than most people on the planet. You are most likely in the top 1 percent of the highest income earners in the world. That’s right. You heard it… you!

That’s because there are so many people out there in developing countries who don’t make enough money to even meet their basic needs. They may not have a roof over their heads, enough food to eat or even clean water. Those are things we tend to take for granted here in the Western world.  Social media doesn’t recognize clean drinking water as something to brag about or recognize with hundreds of “likes.” Maybe it would if we were floating on the clean drinking water with our personal yacht and a bottle of champagne in our hands…#nofilter #ballsohard.

So that’s a good place to start; by developing some appreciation for everything we do have! It’s always a rat race, with people trying to get ahead and get more.  Most people spend the majority of their life wanting more…achieving more…buying more. Then they die. Yup. And all that stuff they accumulated doesn’t matter a bit. But when you actually look at it, living in the Western world, most of us have all our basic needs met – which is the fundamental condition for happiness that not everyone around the world enjoys. 

Appreciating this blessing is also a key part of yoga practice, as set out in the five yamas from the Sutras of Patanjali – one of the fundamental texts of yoga spirituality. The five yamas include: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), and brahmacharya (self-control) and aparigraha (non-coveting). The yama of aparigraha that encourages us to let go of everything we don’t need, keep only what is necessary and be content with what we have.

Now let me make something clear, I’m business first - always have been and always will be.  And, I’ve been referred to as a capitalist on many occasions – an accusation I won’t deny.  I love opening my Oranj studios; creating something from nothing and providing services to markets in need. But, I do also love yoga. Yoga has taught me how to live a balanced life and bring compassion and appreciation into my everyday encounters. Yoga is as much about the physical asanas you do on the mat, as the spiritual practices you employ in your everyday life. Together, they offer a path to true joy and enlightenment. So, if you’re feeling down about how much money ends up in your bank account each month – or how awesome your friend’s life looks on social media and how lame yours seems to be in comparison – you can see it as an opportunity to exercise the yama of aparigraha and further deepen your yoga practice.

Don’t stop working toward your goals

Also, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should be complacent with where you currently are in your life. If you have hopes and dreams that involve more money in your bank account, I highly encourage you to set goals and be motivated to work towards them.

If one of those goals is to not have to worry about making ends meet from month to month, and instead achieving financial freedom – then you need to look at building wealth. Wealth is where the difference between the top 1 percent and the rest of us really emerges. While income is the amount of money you get paid every month, wealth is the value of all your assets, investments and other elements that make up your net worth. According to the Global Rich List, you need a net worth of $770,000 to make it into the top one percent of the wealthiest people in the world.

And while that might seem like a pretty difficult number to reach, building wealth is not as difficult as you might think. It really comes down to putting what resources you do have to work for you, and being disciplined in how you spend your money.

In my next post, I’ll be looking at some of my favorite ways to help build wealth and make your money work for you. So stay tuned!

P.S. If you’re interested in taking an amazing” better human training” program, I highly recommend the 200-hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training course, taught at our oranj fitness studio locations – and also in Mexico! This training is 100 percent guaranteed to change your life for the better. I know it has changed mine! For more info, visit http://www.oranjfitness.com/training/. Namaste!