Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that “the grass is always greener on the other side of the hill.” We’re not satisfied with where we are, what we’re doing, or what we have and we’re convinced that if we can just go to that one place, do that one thing, or possess that one object we’ll be so much happier than we are now.
The cliché moral of the story is that once we get to the other side of the hill and look back, we start to long for the way things were and think that the greener grass has somehow eluded us, that it still resides on the other side of the hill we just left.
Well sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.
The problem that I have with this little bit of old-timey wisdom is that it encourages placid acceptance of the status quo. It says to me, “Don’t even try to better your situation, you’ll just be disappointed.” It’s really rather a pessimistic way to look at things.
There’s obviously more positive interpretations of this maxim. Looked at in a better light, it tries to teach us the lesson that we should be happy with what we have and that if we’re always chasing happiness and never look around and realize what we have, we’ll always be dissatisfied. There’s wisdom in accepting some things as they are and in not fixating our happiness on a single goal.
More often than not, however, I see this phrase used to waggle a finger at someone who is trying to be happier. No, I don’t think we should fixate our happiness on the getting or doing of a single thing, but I do think it’s perfectly alright to strive for better things in life.
It comes back to that obnoxiously true life lesson that everything is a balance. It’s not good to always be chasing the greener grass and never appreciating what we have, but neither is it healthy to sit back and accept the status quo until we die. If happiness is a journey, and not a destination, then it’s bound to lead over a few hills, some of which will in fact be greener than others.
Enjoy your green grass when and where you find it.