Category Archives: grass is greener

Where the Grass is Greener

This week I struggled with something to write about. Call it Mercury Retrograde, or call it fatigue, either way I came up with nothing. It happens. Then I saw this quote on a friend’s FB page:

The grass is greener where you water it.

It wasn’t attributed to any one person directly, and I feel like I’ve heard it before, though I’m not sure where. Then I was reminded of something I read from an interview with Isla Fisher in the American Way magazine. She said:

“…I’m super happy with my life the way it is. The grass doesn’t look greener.”
(I have loved that idea ever since I first read it.)

So, what is this obsession we have with “the grass is greener” concept? Is it greener? Ever? Or is it that we have learned to live life from a basis of comparison? Which, in turn means, we will never be satisfied?

I’ve explored this idea of “never enough” off and on for years, both formally and informally. The bottom line truth that I know for certain is that nobody ever wins in the comparison game.

Whether you are comparing misery (ie: my loss is greater than yours) or wealth and acquisitions (there is ALWAYS somebody who has more than you, or something you don’t have) or bodies (body satisfaction underlies many of our self-esteem challenges and issues of self-worth), nobody wins in the comparison game. Nobody.

In fact, the only way to WIN the game is to choose to not play at all. So, what does that look like?

Well, in some ways, it looks like the two quotes I shared above. Many thought leaders and spiritual teachers talk about acceptance, gratitude, and mindfulness. (Heck, I’m one of them!) But those words can be idealistic and amorphous, and can also create opportunities for the comparison habit to edge it’s way back in (ie: I must not be grateful enough, because s/he looks so much happier than I am). So, even though they are helpful to understand, they’re not always active or directive behaviors you can engage in and put into practice. So, what can you actually do?

Here’s one idea:

When the words should, could, would, enough, more, better, and/or worse (as well as “when” and “if”) enter your thoughts or statements – take pause. Take pause long enough to assess whether you are making a statement of comparison. Are you comparing yourself or your situation to someone else’s or some societal standard? Are you comparing someone else’s behavior to your own? If so, stop. Stop right there, because you won’t win. Not winning looks like: frustration, anger, jealousy, envy, sadness, despair, and desperation, to name a few. And nobody wants that.

Stopping is the first step. The second step is engaging in a positive practice to replace the habit of comparison. This involves identifying what brings you joy, such as: I love my house. Or if that’s too big: I love my bed. Or my garden. Or my feet. Or my nose. Or my dog. Or my brain. Or my….life. You get the idea.

So, the next time you think the ‘grass is greener’ somewhere else, take pause, double-check your words, and then look around you. Then perhaps you can see whether or not the grass you’re standing on is green, because it probably is. Green is green, and comparison is a game of shades that turns something lovely into something invisible, and sometimes harmful.

Insides and Outsides – Part 1 of 3

Years ago, when I was being especially judgmental toward myself, my husband taught me a phrase:

“Don’t compare your insides, to other people’s outsides.” It was really simple, and yet at the time I didn’t entirely grasp its depth. However, I can’t begin to tell you how much this phrase has influenced me, my decisions and my beliefs as it has stayed with me for almost a decade. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up…

As children, for whatever reason (remember: we’re not playing the blame game here), we are taught to “compare” ourselves to what we see around us. So, from a very early age, we start learning the words: better, worse, enough, etc. We learn that everything has significance or value in our lives, and that some things are worth more than others. Unfortunately, we eventually apply this system to people, including ourselves. To be blunt, we learn how to judge. This isn’t something we’ve picked up overnight, mind you – it’s years and years of subliminal and sometimes not-so-subliminal messaging. Either way, in the end, by the time we reach pre-teen years, we are set up for disappointment, angst, frustration and fear. We are also set up for challenges, opportunities, and growth – but the other emotions tend to take over more often than not, as we learn to exert and test our independence little by little.

With that said, our teenage years are then spent fine-tuning this mode of living: comparing what we see to how we feel. For some reason, it’s ok that we do this with ourselves. So, we spend the better part of our childhood and teenage years thinking and feeling that we might not be “enough” and that we possibly aren’t “worthy” – when compared to everything, and everyone else, around us.

I can’t tell you how many times I looked at the more “popular” girls in high school and felt envy or worse: self-disgust. I wanted to look more like them, be more like them, and have what they had. And yet, I now know there were other people who looked at me and probably thought the same things I was thinking. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Why would I? All my energy was being spent thinking about everything that I wasn’t, not thinking about anything that I was. Add the value-system created by comparative thinking, and it’s a recipe for disaster: poor self-esteem and a roller coaster of emotions. It was difficult and challenging, and I think many of us may have experienced it that way.

Seeing the “grass as always greener” can wreak havoc on your mind. So, “it was the best of times and the worst of times.” Drama played a large role in my life, and why not? When you spend the better part of every day looking around you and judging others, and looking in the mirror and judging yourself – drama is a natural result. So – what happened next? I survived. In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad, even though at the time it was quite challenging. I have some of the best friends in the world – still today – and most all from high school. From there I went on to college, where I started (for the first time) to believe in myself, despite what I saw all around me. This time, however, it was based on others’ perception of me – namely, my boyfriends. I saw through their eyes what and who I was, not my own. Everything was still judgment based, but it was better. Next week, we’ll continue the story. For now, however:

THree THings

Body – What do your outsides really look like? Stop looking at magazines of airbrushed models and actresses wearing $5,000 outfits – just look at yourself. Yes, we live in a society that values appearance, but what do YOU value? Health? Wellness? The ability to have free will and make your own decisions about what you wear? Eat? Do?

Mind – Our mind, if we allow it, will always play a ping-pong game with us. Too much stimulus, especially in light of the comparative value-system we’ve created, will always cause havoc in our judgments and self-esteem. Can you take a break from the things that cause you to sit in judgment of yourself? Can you even identify the causes?

Spirit – Here’s the best one: you already know who you are, and how beautiful/smart/kind/loving/etc. you are. It’s deep down, in your soul. Kept there for always and forever. If you can tap into this knowledge, think of how all the judgment of yourself and others will fall away. What can you do to access this wisdom? Is it enough for someone to simply remind you that you already have it?

In love and light,