The George Costanza Opposite Rule

There is a Seinfeld episode where the perennial loser character George Costanza thinks that every choice he has made in his life is wrong.

Jerry tells him he should start making choices against his instincts and George decides he will start doing the opposite of what he thinks he should do. You can watch the video above for the first result from the George Costanza rule.

Of course by the end of the episode he is back to his old ways but I really think he was onto something.

Sometimes I feel like I’m going backwards or seeking out the opposite to what most of my peers are embracing. Sometimes I feel like I’m living the George Costanza Opposite Rule.

No car, deleting my Facebook account, living smaller when living bigger and better is supposed to be the dream. My recent digital sabbatical also showed me that I am attempting to turn my back on some of the supposed perks of life in 2012.

Living the opposite, or implementing the George Costanza Opposite Rule, can actually be a path to better living. Less mess, less stuff, less cleaning, less debt, less stress and more of what you want in your life: health, friendship, time and sleep.

I’m reminded of my mother’s retort when I would say that one of my friend’s had/did something I wanted to do/have. Just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean you have to too.

Anyone else feel like they’re moving in a different direction than their peers or social circles?

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Comments

  1. says

    Yes. And it can feel very lonely sometimes. I’m thankful to find like-minded people on the internet so I know I’m not the only one going against the grain.

  2. says

    I am just at the beginning of my journey of minimalism. But even at that I am starting to see the difference in friends who are wanting more clothes as I am clearing mine out, wanting more furniture while I am getting rid of things that just aren’t used. Along with this doing the Dave Ramsey program I am seeing more and more of how different I can be an so far enjoying the move but have a LONG way to go. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

    • says

      Thanks, Bobbi. And good luck. It’s a struggle at times and I often feel like we’re swimming upstream when we decide to get rid of more things or not upgrade to what most of our peers have. The rewards though, the rewards of less stress, more time and being out of debt, far outpace the occasional moments of feeling like the odd duck.
      Dave Ramsey: we did something similar to his program to get out of debt. Good luck!

  3. says

    Absolutely! None of my friends are doing what I’m doing and I many times feel like I don’t fit in. Like I don’t belong to these times. One of the things that affects me the most is the situation with my daughters. They don’t watch any tv, don’t play any video games or use the computer. When we get together with other families, most kids have the iphone or some kind of electronic attached to their hand. Or they are talking about the latest movie or tv show or video game. My daughters know about fairies, gnomes, about knitting, felting, violin. I really hope I can find friends for my daughters.
    I find comfort with online blog friends who think like I do, but I would also like some in person friends because I don’t like to be on the computer too much. I prefer in person relationships.

    • says

      I’m sure traveling in your RV will expose your daughters to more families that are making choices like yours.

      My husband told me he read that 1/3 of American teens have an iPhone. That really shocked me.

  4. Melinda says

    Yes, going different direction than most my friends. However leading by example is important as well. You are inspiring many people while on your journey. I’ve turned to a raw food diet and lifestyle and sometimes just wish that socializing were easier – however when someone tells me how inspired they are by how I eat/live it makes it all worthwhile. Keep doing what you’re doing, we appreciate it!

    • says

      Thanks, Melinda. Reading about other families that are making different choices too really helps.
      So true about the socializing. I can only imagine the constant barrage of questions about your diet from friends and acquaintances. But like you said, it’s good to be example of what is possible.

  5. Heather G says

    I have to agree. My friends tend to think I am crazy when I talk about downsizing and simplifying my life. My mother spends her time trying to talk me out of it. But it feels right for me. It always has.

    • says

      We got a lot of “that’s crazy” when we sold our car. People told us we would regret it but, a year and a half later, we don’t miss it at all.
      If this is crazy I don’t want to be sane :)

  6. says

    Yes! The only people I know with my decisions is me. And the online community. I think I have found one other friend through Facebook with similar thoughts and lifestyle changes, and I guess I really need to invest more time into that friendship. It’s super hard to keep up a well researched better and new lifestyle when you can’t even convince those you live with to support you.

    Anyone else feel like they have to defend everything? I was a vegetarian before I was pregnant, and when anyone found out the first question was “why?”
    I’ve made the choice to cloth diaper when my baby is born, and again it’s “why ” and worse “you don’t want to do that.”

    • says

      Cloth diapering can be really easy and, dare I say, fun. Most people haven’t seen modern day cloth diapers and have no experience cloth diapering. They have no idea how easy it can be.

      I’ve found those “why?” questions are usually from people that are threatened by your choice. I always tell them my reasons and then end with, it’s not for everyone but we like it.

    • says

      I feel you. I was able to get people to shut up pretty quickly about our parenting choices by just stating facts. Like, “yeah, cloth diapering means extra laundry, but dude, I really like not having hazardous chemicals next to my son’s twig n berries, know what I’m sayin?”

  7. says

    100%! I’m getting to the point where I’m enjoying the weird looks and being called crazy or when my co workers tell me I ought to get something and I say no, they ask why and I tell them it’s because I don’t need it and they look at me and say what does that matter? It’s kind of funny to watch the looks of confusion and bewilderment. My only hope is that my family will someday “get it.” My mom is on board and is even trying a few things out that I mention we’re doing but my sister-in-law is still striving for the Mcmansion, workaholic, vacation is the only time we spend as a family, kind of lifestyle. I see how it’s hurting my nephew and it breaks my heart. My only consolation is that my kids will never have to live like that and as long as he’s with us, my nephew gets plenty of time and attention paid to him.

  8. says

    It’s funny because I’ve been this way my ENTIRE life. Everyone used to say that if the majority were heading right, you could guarantee that I’d be going immediately to the left. What I’m finding now is that I’m gravitating more towards normal and am finding resistance from my “abnormal” crowd. You can never win. If you want to “fit in” with any group, you can to give up way too much individualism. I just go where I take myself, even if it’s starting to seem more of the norm now (although we’ll likely always have less than average, be “greener” than average, etc….but I’m not going extreme enough to fit into each opposite group).

    • Jane says

      I can totally relate. I never quite fit in with the hip kids and yet never did with the “losers” crowd either. Nor with the artsy types nor with the activist types nor any particular crowd. I tend to just hang out at the edges of all these ” groups” & gleem a little from each without having to conform to any 1 particular creedo. That is turn has made me not quite the outsider..but definitely not an insider ether.
      But what it has made me is a person not easily swayed by mass public opinion or hysteria. That is if everyone is jumping off the cliff – I’ll pass. If everyone but everyone is at Starbucks – I’ll be anywhere else but. I have no problems not joining social media groups (i.e. Twitter or FB) as I got no burning desire to stalk old BF’s or friends from 3rd grade nor do I really care that Mary just checked in at Applebee’s for lunch. So how do I keep up with folks – I just do right up to the point that I don’t. I got enough things to do in my life (good, bad & otherwise) without having to keep up with every person I may have ever known status updates.
      To be honest – I’m happy staying under most peoples radar anyways. If they can’t find you then they can’t bug the shit outta you. LOL

  9. says

    That clip is awesomely funny.

    As for trying to live with less than my peers, I never feel like I have “less than” anyone or that I am less interesting or less of a good person because we are not upgrading our lifestyle at every turn. Our ability to make different choices (perhaps other than mainstream) is really one of the joys of life! I’ve recently stopped eating meat and dairy and my own husband got a bit freaked out that I was going to try to impose a different lifestyle on him – I calmly reassured him that my choices are my own and I don’t have any plans to impose anything on anyone else. Your life is for you, not for anyone else – so the impact of your choices aren’t really anyone else’s business (unless of course you make them their business by discussing them all the time). I know it’s popular for proponents of minimalism to want to define themselves by it (I have fallen into this trap myself!), but I prefer to live with minimalism at the back of my mind, rather than front and centre in every moment and conversation. I want to own less, consume less and buy less – and I make choices every day to support those values. I will admit it is irritating to be told by others what I should be doing (my parents and brother have recently jumped on the “you need to get a bigger place” bandwagon again), but I remind myself that any deriding comments are more about the person making the comments than about me and my life.

    Hope you are doing well and enjoying some nice spring weather! Spring has finally arrived in Vancouver. Finally. :)

    • says

      I prefer to live with minimalism at the back of my mind, rather than front and centre in every moment and conversation.

      Same. I write, read and discuss minimalism online but it’s not a huge topic of conversation in my daily life. And so true, the deriding or mocking comments have much more to do with the person saying them than with how I live my life.

      Had a very brief visit in downtown Vancouver last week. We have been visiting but were out in the suburbs. The weather was gorgeous and I even got a sunburn walking around Langley one afternoon.

  10. Heather says

    I love that clip. Seinfeld has a reference for just about everything in life :)

    Yes I feel very different from my friends, neighbors, and most of my family. We lived without a car for 5 years to avoid debt, we cloth diaper, we don’t do Facebook or Twitter, our kids don’t have fancy phones and all the latest gadgets, etc. I think it can be hard to resist the tide sometimes, but reading this blog reminds me we can.

    • says

      Seinfeld has a reference for just about everything in life

      I haven’t watched the show much in recent years but in it’s day I remember saying “that’s just like ____ Seinfeld episode” a lot.

      It is hard to resist the tide. I’m not sure I would have kept going in the early months, or continued to make changes, if I hadn’t found other families that are resisting some of the trappings of modern living. Reading other blogs and the comments here makes me feel less like the outlier that I am in our social circles.

  11. says

    Yes! I’ve had people question my only wanting to work contract jobs, being a minimalist and also wanting to eat a mostly plant-based diet. Thankfully, when I start to doubt myself, it is sometimes these same people that say they admire what I’m doing. Always follow your own path, then you can’t have any regrets!

  12. says

    Oh yes. The way we live isn’t always like the typical family. We do out best not to live our lives materialistically and instead focus on spending time with each other (we usually try to go for free outings because those tend to be even more fun than buying toys and paying for events). We try not to upgrade our lifestyles with each pay raise; we tend to put our excess money into savings, or at the least, spend very consciously to make sure that we really love that thing we’re purchasing. I don’t mind so much that I’m different because that’s what works for me and my values.

  13. Juanita says

    The story of my entire life. The challenge for me is to help my kids build positive self-esteem in the “different” bracket. My solution is to build a strong “different” community of friends for them and myself to become grounded in. But, this has turned out to be quite a challenge (finding likeminded among us) although the tides are changing.

  14. says

    Yes. In fact, I haven’t shared my blog postings (about my beginning my minimalist quest) with any friends or family yet. Just a few online communities who are of similar mind, and my husband to proofread (and hopefully laugh at my adult language).

    I’m not sure why, but sometimes I think about sharing… and then I stop, as I’m not sure I’m ready yet. I think a large part of it is that I really don’t want my friends/fam to feel like I think their choices are bad. I mean, if I update my Facebook status with a link to my latest post on purging my wedding dress or the box full of dog clothes and it posts right above my best friend’s update on a shopping spree, I don’t know – is that bad?

    Maybe I’m thinking about it too much.

  15. andrea says

    WOW!! I totally tell ppl that I embrace a minimal lifestyle and most are receptive and supportive…but…it is lonely.

    So happy to have found your blog!

    I have 5 children (10yrs and under) and a a 2,800 sq ft house that I am currently in the process of purging…it is overwhelming at times and sometimes I have NO IDEA where to begin!! I definitely will be poking around your blog!

    thanks

    Andrea : )

  16. SusanP says

    I totally feel like a fish out of water in our culture! I’m thankful I have a husband who shares my values but would like to nurture more friendships with like minded moms. I’ve just started working through “social media” and found plenty of paths I don’t want to follow. I’d rather have fewer quality friendships than huge numbers on my blog from followers just looking for someone to follow them back, too stressful!I find that because my perspectives are not easily swayed by what pop culture follows, I can be true to myself and not lose sight of what’s important to me and my family. Great thoughts and comments.

  17. says

    Yes! But, there aren’t a lot of people our age (actually, period!) who understand or live the same way we do. My husband works full-time but he took a big pay-cut with his new job 5 years ago just because he had been laid-off and was desperate for a job. He’s still hoping and praying for a raise, but we’ve adjusted our budget and spending accordingly. We live in a 1600-square foot home. We don’t own an iPhone, iPod, iPad, MP3 player. We don’t use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. We have 3 kids and it can be very lonely in this world of more, more, more. But, we sure have lots of other time most people don’t have and we spend it where it matters most. With our children. And I’m okay with that.

    Thanks for sharing about your minimalist lifestyle!

  18. Josi says

    Thank you so much!
    I stumbled upon your blog and I am feeling so relieved to see that there are like minded people to myself in this world. I too cut out facebook because I was spending more time snooping around my friends lives than I was enjoying my own.
    I have decluttering my life, minimizing my needs and maximizing my time with my children. It is a tough journey to start and stick to, but I found this post to be reassuring. It does feel counter intuitive. I would love to downsize our home. We have 3 kids and a large bungalow that I feel is wasted space but when I talk about it with friends and family they look at me like I am nuts. I can’t wait to read more!

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