This is First World Fridays #FWF (check out the first FWF here – it was a wild success!) where I share the frivolous stuff that I allow to occupy my mind, and I turn it into an expression of gratitude. Please do it the same – in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, privately within yourself. Tag it #FWF (yes, I’m asking you to tag your silent prayers) and let’s start a revolution!
My First World Friday: A few of my friends have bought summer homes in the past couple years. It’s awesome, of course, to visit these friends at their beach/mountain/country places. But it makes me feel jealous and that I am a loser falling behind my peers financially and professionally. Which is oh-so First World Fridays it isn’t even funny.
On one hand I talk myself out of this envy by reminding myself of the realities of all three of these families – their second homes were afforded them by way of a) being 20-years older than me (and thus many more years of earning), b) inheritance, and c) one chooses not to have children (which, you know, are really freaking expensive). Also: all three are two-income families. I’m single. In other words, I talk myself down from the envy-ledge by justifying that they have more money than me thanks to factors beyond my control. It’s like being jealous of Cindy Crawford’s career, then reminding yourself that you’re not genetically stunningly gorgeous — so let it go.
But that isn’t the point at all. The POINT, Emma, is that IT DOESN’T MATTER! A second home is the consummate sign of wealth (which, admittedly, I covet) and not having one is far from a sign of failure or poverty.
If you’ve felt like me, here’s a little something to ease your self-beration for feeling jealous of your richer friends. Penn State researchers found that comparison of financial success with your peers is the second largest source of happiness or unhappiness (after physical health). In other words, if you live in the favelas of Rio and are just as filthy-poor as everyone else in the favela, you are likely to be quite happy. But if your hedge fund goes under and you’re the only one on the golf course now leasing opposed to owning your private jet, you are likely to be miserable.
GRATITUDE: But I won’t use that bit of pop psychology to justify wallowing in my covetous ways. Instead, I commit to being grateful for all I have. Keeping it totally real – I have a pretty nice home, a pretty big New York apartment that I own. No room to complain there, as I know in this regard I actually have a lot more than many of my peers. My closets are full of clothes I hardly wear. The cupboards brim with food to last a month or more. I am financially richer than 99% of the world’s population and I have zero to be want for, and more to be grateful for than my WordPress storage account can hold. Except, of course, a cute little bungalow in the country. Maybe painted yellow with a tire swing in the apple tree out back. And space to grow tomatoes. With nice neighbors and a fireplace ….
Now your turn! Please share your #FWF, and also #Gratitude!About #FWF: Each week I will post here about the annoyingly frivolous thing I worried about the previous week. I also vow to devote that energy into an expression of gratitude. Two things are true: Sharing openly that which we are ashamed of (in this case devoting time and energy to silly stuff) frees you from that shame, and gives others the permission to do so. Also: The only way to be happy is to be grateful. So post here, on social media, or privately within your family, circle of friends, or even within yourself your own #FirstWorldFriday. Remember – In one breath purge your silly worries, in a second express gratitude.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.