Stopping the Endless Search for the Greener Grass
Most of us will have heard the expression “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. It's an elegantly simple quote that seems to imply that things are always better somewhere else. However, what else can we get from this quote that will help us understand things about ourselves? How can we manage our search for the greener grass?
Satisfaction is impossible
Behind the quotation is a sense of pessimism and the promise of inevitable dissatisfaction with all of the aspects of our lives. The quote as it stands tells us that no matter how good aspects of our life are, they will never be as good as they are elsewhere, and for someone else. If we are faced with a choice between A and B, then whichever we choose, the other choice will inevitably seem better.
We might be able to make the right choice, but we will never be able to fully feel that we made the right choice.
Our need for perfection
It seems that one of the implicit assumptions contained within the quote is our need to have things perfect. It also implies that the lack of perfection will always in the end be dissatisfying for us, and we should try to fix this by having our choice again – choosing the greener grass on the other side of the fence – while we temporarily forget that we will feel differently when we actually have it.
Choosing to not jump the fence
One of the ways out of this is to realise and accept that our grass, if not the greenest, is still green on this side of the fence. I have heard this sentiment expressed by a man when he says to his partner “it is possible that I will fall in love with someone else but if I do I will not follow that – I will never leave you because our love is enough”. In saying this, the man is saying that other grass might appear greener – and actually be greener – but that never will be enough for him to jump the fence.
It's greenest where you water
I have recently heard a different take on this as well that goes “the grass is always greener where it is watered most”. Again, this elegantly captures a simple human characteristic – that the thing that receives our attention and that we put our efforts into will be the lushest after all. It doesn't promise that we will have made the right choice, but it promises that our good-enough choice combined with our efforts can yield spectacular results.
It's a simple quotation, but we know it expresses something very important about how to live a life.
– Tim Hill
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