Our neighborhood is fairly new and is one of those built by a national homebuilder.
What is interesting about our particular development, is that it was built with various price points in mind.
There are entry-level homes, mid-tier homes, upper-tier homes, and mansions…yes mansions.
Each type of home has its own subdivision within the development, and it was clearly developed with buyers from all walks of life in mind.
So anyways, I was taking a quick walk around our neighborhood today and passed into the mansion section.
The first thing that popped into my head was “Man, it would be great to live here!“
And it really would, because most of the homes have huge yards with pools, basketball or tennis courts, large grassy areas, and kids’ play sets.
These homes are the envy of anyone born and raised in our bigger, better, newer culture.
Just thinking about living in one of these houses gave me a dopamine hit. I mean…there’s no way around it!
Keeping Up With The Joneses
It turns out that when people make enough money to meet their needs, they just find new things to need and new lifestyles to aspire to; they never quite manage to keep up with the Joneses, because whenever they’re in danger of getting close, they nominate new and better Joneses with whom to try to keep up.– Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks
But then I was thinking more about this conundrum…
I literally live a half mile away up the street.
I live in a very nice large mid-tier house.
We chose the lot, helped to design the house ourselves, and hand-picked all of the interior components.
Our house is about as custom as you can get without being custom.
We have a pool (and more importantly hot tub), we have a playroom for the kids, a huge kitchen, and a nice office.
Talk about having FOMO baked into our everyday lives!
When a neighborhood is built in this fashion, you can’t help but see what the “next step” could be.
You can’t help but want more.
Because in our neighborhood, there is always someone with more.
There is always someone with a bigger house.
There is always someone with a nicer car.
There is always someone getting an Amazon delivery.
There is always someone taking a nice vacation.
I’ve come to one simple conclusion – no matter how big your house is, it will NEVER be enough.
Despite Never Having Enough, You’ve Already Won The Lottery
We all want more.
We all move the goalposts.
It is human nature.
But there is a way to battle back against FOMO and Keeping Up With the Joneses…that is to constantly remind yourself that you already have everything.
Because you do. You really do.
The odds of being born in a first-world country are somewhere between 5-13%.
So if you were born in a first-world country, that is already a good draw:
- There are more opportunities.
- There are more amenities.
- There are fewer threats.
- And there is better healthcare.
The life expectancy in the least developed countries is only between 62 to 67 years.
I mean seriously. That is more than a decade!
Just by being born, you were rewarded with the potential advantage of a decade of life.
If that is not winning the lottery, then I don’t know what is!
Ignore The Mansion Next Door Because You Already Have It All
Sure, we may drool over our neighbor’s new car.
We may get that dopamine hit when we walk past the mansions next door.
We may constantly want to indulge in luxuries that give us joy.
But when I sit back and think about it, I remember that I already have everything I need to be happy.
I already have it all!
From time to time, I will write out a list of 50 things that I am grateful for – and the result is a huge mood booster.
But even better, it reminds me of all the little things in life that I am grateful for, that I enjoy…that make life worth it.
Of course, life isn’t always a breeze.
There are good days, there are bad days.
But I’ve found that writing down my gratitude never fails.
Because you’ll find that you already have it all.
And you already have enough.
Direction and purpose are hugely important in contentment.
We aren’t genetically designed to do nothing. Winning isn’t doing nothing, even when our core is telling you doing less is better.
I retired when I was 52. I never married or had kids. I bought a small 1 bedroom house before retirement, in a working class neighborhood. My 20 year old Toyota car is paid for, and might have several more low mileage years left in it. I got lucky with stocks and real estate, and will probably have much more than enough to maintain my current frugal lifestyle. I currently live in my dream house, on which mortgage, interest, taxes and insurance are less than $700/month. It was my dream to live simply, and to avoid all ostentatious purchases. I cured myself of the FOMO part of the American Dream, knowing that it’s impossible to ever have enough stuff if looking at mansions and luxury creates a desire to have them.
That is awesome. Great job curing yourself of FOMO. It is really a critical part of Financial Independence. Because you can never be truly independent if you let other people’s lifestyle choices affect yours. I hope you’ve been enjoying your retirement! Cheers.