causes of clutter – wanting my neighbors’ life

the world i live in seems to promote a neverending awareness of the possessions of others.  it does so internally, “i wonder if people notice the car that i drive” and an awareness externally, “i sure wish we had a nice house like them.”  the bible refers to it as “coveting.”  but to many of us, it’s more like a perpetual stream of consciousness.

this desire to have my neighbors’ life is dangerous to ourselves on so many levels: 1) striving for possessions begins to dictate our lives; 2) it negatively affects our relationship with others; 3) it keeps us from enjoying the joy of our life as it is; and 4) it leads to malice (desiring ill-will towards someone else).

in addition (and almost as a side note compared to the list above), this desire to “keep up with the joneses” causes us to keep up our appearance by hoarding possessions or purchasing items above our income level.  our desire to prove that we have arrived causes us to focus attention on the accumulation of things.

this wanting of your neighbors’ life will forever haunt you and rob you of joy until you tackle the deeper issues of self-worth that are going on inside of you.  the value of your life is not defined by the size of your home or what fills its shelves, the value of your life is found in your soul, your heart, and your actions.  find that value apart from material possessions and the envy for your neighbors’ life will soon begin to fade. 

find value in your soul through faith.  find value in your heart by realizing your capacity to love.  and find value in your actions by impacting a life around you. 

when you do, the perfect luster of your neighbors’ life will begin to fade in comparison to yours.

related posts:

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

Follow on TwitterLike on Facebook


  1. says

    Just found your blog thanks to Mandi at Organizing Your Way. I can’t believe I haven’t found you sooner! We are on the same page. I see clutter as junk (physical and mental) that gets in the way of what is really important in life. The idea of “wanting your neighbor’s life” as clutter never crossed my mind. You are so right. I can look out my window and see what “keeping up with the Jones'” is doing to lives and families. Thanks for the great post! I’m a new subscriber!

  2. di says

    It’s may not only be your desire to have what others do, but it’s also how everyone else shuns you when you are poor or different.

    Many of us do not have a choice.

  3. di says

    When I divorced, I had to manage on one small income with 2 children in a small apartment.

    All of my friends were home with their children and lived in big houses. They had pools, vacations, two vehicles and expensive belongings.

    They were embarrassed to be seen with me and I became an outcast.

    • Kira says

      Are you sure they were embarrassed to be seen with you? Even though we don’t realize it, sometimes it’s easier to maintain friendships with people who are living the same lifestyle as us. SAHMs can easily meet up during the day once the kids start school, but single working moms can have a hard time just getting the necessities done after work (if any kind of commute is involved, if kids need homework assistance, etc.).

      I’ve lost touch with plenty of friends over the years simply due to lifestyle changes.

  4. says

    I think you are better off without friends like that. True friends stick by you through good times and bad. It sounds like they are all running to keep a step ahead of each other and that’s no way to live. Perhaps one day when they are not so blinded by their stuff they will realize what a mistake they’ve made.

Sites That Link to this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *