Our 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 we think 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 everything in our life. The quote implies that no matter how good aspects of our life are, they will never seem as good as they are elsewhere, and for someone else. If we must choose between A and B, then whichever we choose, the other choice will inevitably seem better.
We might make the right choice, but we will never be able to fully feel that we have.
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; we should try to fix this by having our choice again – choosing the greener grass on the fence's other side – 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. 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 – the greener grass.
It's a simple quotation, but we know it expresses something very important about how to live a life.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about the deafening silence and why we fear it.
– Tim Hill
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