By Jimmy Warden
A lot of times in our lives, we want what we don’t currently have: a different job, a different home, a different look, a different mind, a different material item, or a different life altogether. We think obtaining what we don’t already have will bring us to new heights. We think it will make our lives more fulfilling, more enjoyable, and more engaging. We think that it will change our character and way of being for the better. We think having what we don’t have will help us be the best version of our life. If only things were different.
This type of thinking is often referred to as the “grass is greener phenomenon”. This is the belief that was painted in the first paragraph; the constant perpetuation that some other set of circumstances is better than our current set. This phenomenon originated from the phrase “the grass is greener on the other side”. In this case, the other side is that life that we’re dreaming of. That is the other place that we are always wanting to get to, but can never seem to arrive at. The question begs, is the grass really greener there?
The only way to know is to find out. The only way to find out is by changing what we do because we’ll never get different results doing the same things that we’ve always done. This means that we’ll need to change our behavior if we really want to make a legitimate attempt to arrive to this promised land we are searching for. There are sacrifices that need to be made in order to make it happen.
These sacrifices are what people often forget about on the “other side”. As the renowned author Mark Manson once said, “different circumstances just come with a different set of problems”. Let’s put that idea into perspective.
There’s the current version of us. Working our daily job(s), taking care of our family and friends, and taking care of other personal responsibilities we deem important. However, our current lifestyle doesn’t quite “cut it” for us. There is something else we want to be doing or a set of circumstances that we wish we had. So we say things like, “if I had _____ , then I’ll be happy”. This is why we often envy celebrities or people with higher status than us. We think that they’re happier than we are.
In reality, they have a completely different set of problems that come with their celebrity status. If we think we have a lot of notifications coming into our phones from social media, imagine what a celebrity’s would look like. We think that we’re busy with our jobs and families, imagine what a celebrity’s schedule is like. We think that people bother us and waste our time, imagine how many people bother celebrities and waste their time. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention, a lot of the celebrities we admire also have families of their own, so throw those problems and challenges into the mix too. Sure it could be fun being a celebrity for a day, but handling that type of life day in and day out comes with a lot more challenges than we may think.
I’m not trying to tell people to be pessimistic about their hopes and dreams, but rather be a bit more thoughtful and accountable. The grass is greener phenomenon is based on wishful thinking. There is another saying out there that states: “the grass is greener where you water it”. That quote is really just a meditation on doing the work that is necessary to make something grow. Grass only grows and gets greener when it receives an adequate amount of water. We can only have the things that we truly want in life if we make the time and effort to make them happen. We need to put the work in. Every damn day.
Part of that also means that we need to be aware of how our process is unfolding. That is the most crucial part of our process towards improvement; taking stock of where we’re at and where will we be going based on the current trajectory of our daily actions. If we’re not taking the necessary actions and making the proper adjustments from our reflections, our trajectory will not look good, and we will never make it to the “other side”. We’ll never be where we want to be.
This is where people get lost. They aren’t aware of how their daily actions of their current lifestyle contribute to their dissatisfaction. They don’t understand that they’re not watering their grass enough. They’re not doing the things that they’re perpetuating over in their minds. They’re merely sticking to what they’ve always done, but still feel unhappy. They need to make change happen.
In order to make change happen, it’s vital to spend some time reflecting on what you really want in life. Even though “watering the grass” is the process of what needs to be done each day, it is important to think about how green you want that grass to be because that can help you come up with ideas about what to do each day to make it the beautiful hue of green you want.
This is how we can make the grass greener on that other side. This is how we can live a more fulfilling and engaging life. Making sure we’re holding ourselves accountable to the daily actions that need to be taken in order to make our lives better.
It’s okay to want to see what life is like on “the other side” to see if the grass is greener; just make sure you bring your sprinkler.