For example, if you thought your life would be better if you could earn $10k more a year so that you’d be pulling in $85k. But if you did that only to find out everyone in your circle of friends made $90k that year you’d more than likely wind up feeling dissatisfied with your $85k! The only reason for your discomfort would be because your friends were making more even though you’d earlier thought $85k was the key to happiness.
And research shows that even if you didn’t make the amount you were shooting for, but you at least made more than your circle of friends you’d feel better about it.
This happens with houses too, the whole keeping up with the Jones thing. But now, probably driven by the current mortgage crisis, there seems to be a growing interest in our “footprint” on the Earth. One big way of reducing your footprint is to live in a smaller house. I think it’s an improvement over the McMansion trend of recent years. Some people are trying to live in the smallest house they can, instead of the biggest house they (can’t) afford.
It has a lot to do with marketing and the messengers. If Oprah, Brad, and Jeremy Lin start living in smaller digs the trend might really catch on.
Enter the stationary yacht. If we started calling small houses stationary yachts they’d sound cooler and imply more prestige. Maybe we could tap into our comparing and competitive nature by trying to outdo our circle of friends by buying smaller and cooler stationary yachts rather than larger and presumably cooler McMansions.