Have you ever seen a herd of gazelle running? (Thanks BBC's Blue Planet)
All it takes is one gazelle to start galloping, and the rest immediately join in. This of course helps keep the gazelle safe. If one sees a lion waiting to pounce, not every gazelle needs to see the lion, they simply trust that there is danger, and that running is the safest course of action.
Humans aren’t a whole lot different.
Our expectations about life are often framed by those surrounding us. The cars that our friends drive, the houses they live in, the lifestyle they lead.
Sure, we all know that we shouldn’t compare our lot to the neighbours. But we’re only human, and we do compare.
As we see repeatedly the types of life and lifestyle that others showcase, we quite naturally start to think of those lifestyle attributes more positively. A new car, a bigger house, a faster boat, shinier phone. These types of desires are so prevalent that we even have term coined for it, Keeping up with the Joneses.
With the ever expanding reach of social media though, our neighbours aren’t just the house across the street. People are inundating themselves with the highlights of everyone, from Hollywood elite to instagram influencers to that gal from highschool. With those expanding social influences, people are more and more trying to live outside their means, all for the almighty ‘gram.
This lifestyle inflation has disastrous consequences, as Canadians and Americans are borrowing more now than ever before. The average Canadian now has over $20,000 in debt excluding their mortgage.
Expanding Your Frames of Reference
Alright, borrowing excessively is bad. Especially when it puts a strain on your financial system. But what can you do about it?
Going cold turkey on social media is pretty unlikely. And since we’re already on the IG, it’s always a good social talking point to check out Hollywood’s who’s who.
But rather than focusing only on the highlight reels of the rich and famous, maybe it’s time to expand your frame of reference. With billions of people living in impoverished nations, perhaps it's time for a heavy dose of reality.
Millions of people don’t have access to reliable electricity, are you sure you need an even bigger TV on the wall? Millions more still don’t have access to clean drinking water. Is it really an inconvenience that your fridge only makes wedge shaped ice?
Before making that next impulse purchase to show off in your own 3-second highlight reel, take a moment to consider what you have in your very rich life. A little gratitude goes a long way. That genuine appreciation might not be captured in 140 characters or less, but it will certainly make you a whole lot richer.