what’s your perspective?

 

Welcome to fall 2016!

This time of year represents the end of summer vacations, a return to cooler temperatures and, if you reside in Southern California as we do, a hope for rain! With the arrival of fall we also find ourselves at the starting gates of a series of events and holidays … back to school, falling leaves, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, and more. And this year, we have the added thrill of wading through what has to be one of the oddest presidential campaign seasons ever!

For some this time of year represents joy, happiness, family, and celebrations. Some find these months the most stressful of the year. Still others find themselves trapped between each of these experiences. What about you? What’s your perspective on this?

Whatever your perspective is, it is easy to find ourselves falling for and trapped in the midst of a marketing blitz aimed at making us strive for perfect holidays filled with perfect foods and piles of perfect presents. And in the midst of the frenzy, we see just how prevalent Keeping up with the Joneses is in our culture.

With our last post, we introduced a bit of the 103 year old history of the phrase Keeping up with the Joneses and how this term started in 1913 whena new comic strip of this name was first introduced to us. This now infamous phrase has hung with us for over a century and represents the side effects of the American Dream that urges us to do things and buy things in order to impress other people.

We fell for this … thinking we could work, buy, and spend our way into the happiness that the American Dream represents. But we learned that happiness is not found in the American dream or any variety of holiday seasons. This was when we discovered a new perspective, a fresh viewpoint that allowed us to reframe what happiness is and how to find it.

For us, this new perspective comes from the Bible. It was here we uncovered that who we are does not depend on how well we do in the world or what gifts we give or receive in December; our true identities and reason for living can only be found in Christ (Ephesians 1:11 [paraphrased]).

Prior to our discovery we were running on life’s treadmill as fast as possible and doing the best we could. We came to identify ourselves by our jobs and what we accumulated; we just thought that was how it worked. But now we know we had it backward. Our identity in Christ comes first—our role in the world, and everything else, flows from Him.

This changed everything for us and it was so significant we wrote a book about it called Who Are the Joneses Anyway? We now dedicate our lives to helping others discover who they are and why they are here so they can lead the intentional, authentic lives they were created for. Not just any old lives … but lives filled with passion, purpose, and happiness.

We have experienced a complete transformation in our lives and have seen others experience the same. If you allow it, this will transform your life too.

What would happen if you weren’t worried so much about titles, possessions, status, holidays, and Keeping up with the Joneses? How would your life change if you focused on who you are, why you’re here, and the difference you want to make with your life?

Think of the possibilities if you started living your life more intentionally, doing more of the things that matter most—and less of everything else. Could life be less hectic? What if you could live more simply, yet more fully? And how could refocusing on the things you are really passionate about make each of these coming holidays the best you’ve ever experienced?

Thank you for reading along. Now it’s your turn. We’d love to hear your thoughts, your perspective, and your story. Simply add your comments below and if you would like to share more with us, let us know and we’ll spend some time with you. Oh, and please “share” this post with others … we’ve made it easy … just click on the social media icons.
We wish you all the most wonderful start to this fall season.

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what could be better than our stuff?

Keeping up with the Joneses, Blue Road Sign with text Us and Joneses with sky background

At one time or another, most of us have used the expression “keeping up with the Joneses.” We’re talking about a legendary family that has the world trying to keep up with them. They’re mentioned in tweets, movies, newscasts, articles, blogs, books, and more.

They’re mysterious. They seem to be everywhere, but no one appears to have actually met them. Why is that?

McGinis vs. Jones

In 1913, Arthur “Pop” Momand highlighted the side effects of the American Dream that urges us to do things in order to impress other people and create a sense of social standing. His cartoon strip, Keeping Up with the Joneses, followed the McGinis family as they competed with their neighbors, the Joneses, in social status and the accumulation of material goods. Interestingly, in the twenty-six years the strip ran, the Joneses never actually appeared in the cartoon—a clever way for the author to show that the Joneses represented much more than just the McGinises’ next-door neighbors.

They were the pressure of society given a name, and though the strip was comical, it dealt with an issue that has plagued humanity throughout our existence. This was such a big problem in the early twentieth century that the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” has endured in common usage for more than a hundred years.

Is this still an issue today?

While this phrase comes from a century-old idea, what it represents is a timeless part of our human existence. One of God’s “top ten” even deals with the temptation to want more—to want what others have. But in modern days, we have elevated this desire to an art form.

Since the McGinis and Jones families first showed up on the scene, everything has changed. And yet nothing has changed. In one way or another, we persistently fall into the trap of trying to keep up with our neighbors. We simply keep changing their names and adding a few digits to their income levels.

The comic strip Jones family isn’t around anymore, but we’ve traded those cartoon characters for newer, sexier, edgier, real-life models. From shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to Cribs to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, millions watch their favorite stars’ every move while trying to capture the latest styles and trends. The Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Kennedys, and the Hiltons came before the Kardashians, and someone else will come after them. Regardless who grabs the headlines, the “Joneses” represent much more than a family—it’s a force.

In our first halves of life we had been compulsively chasing something without really knowing what it was. We weren’t pursuing a goal, a dream, or a passion. It was something more nebulous, easy to miss at first and we were seeking contentment in our titles, possessions, and successes. We had been focusing on what we were and what we attained. We now know that “what” is the wrong starting point.

We are just like many of you—ordinary, hardworking people who discovered ourselves trapped in a race we didn’t even realize we were in.

As we began sharing our stories, we realized we were not alone as others, in turn, shared their personal journeys with us. Many life stories later, we have heard how overspending, gambling, materialism, approval addiction, and many other things have been railroading individuals and families away from the lives they were meant to lead.

We’ve witnessed how low self-esteem and poor self-identity have trapped people into thinking they are not a good enough mom or dad, husband or wife, son or daughter—unless they could provide those special shoes, live in the right zip code, drive a certain car, or maintain a prestigious enough title. We’ve listened to story after story of fractured lives, struggling marriages, and hijacked dreams.

Many people have told us they are stressed and working too much, and their families hardly know them. They are never home, their marriages are difficult, and they are barely hanging on. Their lives are like running a marathon on a treadmill—they put in all the work but don’t get anywhere.

Others tell us they have it “all”—everything life has to offer. Yet, deep down, they know they were created for more and want their lives to count for something more meaningful and have greater impact than just a collection of titles and possessions.

Still others don’t have a clue who they are. They struggle each day searching for significance and acceptance. They try everything they can think of—social media, shopping, alcohol, drugs, new fashions, and more. No matter what they do, they can’t seem to find contentment in any of it.

Some have passionately shared that they “hate” their life. They might have everything we think we’re supposed to want: the home, the job, the cars, and all the toys. But they find themselves worn out from spending all of their time maintaining their possessions.

They have yet to learn that God is better than stuff.

This is exactly what God had shown us in our own lives—there was something better out there.

This is the same hope we now want to help others discover. Not everybody hates their lives, but how many of us are really happy? How many of us are enjoying our lives and spending more time loving, giving, and experiencing freedom, rather than the opposite? How many of us are really content? Is true contentment even possible?

What do YOU think? Add your comments below.

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