One of my biggest struggles is that I always think the grass is greener on the other side. No matter how good my life is, someone has something easier than I do. No matter how great my job is, someone has better benefits. No matter how nice my clothes are, someone has my dream wardrobe. The list never ends. But I have had to learn, the hard way, that everything is not better on the other side. Sometimes we fail to see our biggest blessings by overlooking how green our very own “grass” is.
I couldn't wait for the day that I got into a career that I loved. To help me along my path I never passed up an opportunity to change companies, jobs, or even job titles. I kept thinking that other peoples’ jobs, or new job openings sounded more fun than where I was. This was my thinking even if I liked a job. By following this mode of thinking I found myself in a job that I hated. When you are spending 8-9 hours a day at a job you loath you really start to realize how amazing your old jobs where. The grass isn't always greener.
When I was in school, I always felt that other majors had more exciting classes than I did. Or that my friends had more money, more time, and more fun than I did. I remember forcing myself to go to parties because everyone else was. The mentality of "the grass is always greener" plays out in social circles too. We think that someone else is more put together, polished, and happier than we are. That simply isn't the case.
Let's look at why the mentality of "the grass is greener" can really take a negative toll on your life.
You are Never Satisfied
Never, is a strong word, but when you are constantly looking for greener grass you don’t appreciate or even evaluate how good things are now. We all are guilty of this. I spent a month in Guatemala for a college trip. It was an amazing experience, but when I went home my whole perspective of life had changed. I missed the food in my fridge, I missed being able to hug my family, I missed my car, I missed my way of life. The first week I was back home, I appreciated even the tiniest aspects of my life that made me happy. (Full disclosure: that gratitude probably lasted 2 weeks at the most before I forgot how wonderful those things were.) It shouldn’t have to take major life events to remind us that our lives are good, despite the things we lack.
When we start to look around at any aspect of our lives and think it isn’t as good as someone else’s or another opportunity, we devalue it. Slowly but surely, keeping up with the Joneses corrodes the joy you once experienced in what you already had. The life you are currently living is never good enough when you are always wondering what is on the other side or if someone has it better than you do. The bottom line is that if you are experiencing consistent joy, or happiness from your situation, recognize it and treasure it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve your situation, take new opportunities, or even take risk, but be happy right now for what you have. Understand this important life lesson: everything you have right now is because of what you have attracted into your life.
You Fail to Calculate Risk Properly
One of the most dangerous aspects of "the grass is greener" is that you run the risk of taking opportunities or making changes in your life you haven’t calculated the emotional, physical, or mental cost of. We are constantly balancing the amount of risks we take in our lives. (Check out a blog post I wrote all about risk HERE). Risk can be good or bad, but you must always try to figure the cost and if you can afford to take it. When you are worried about trying to always find greener grass you can fail to evaluate the risk of your choice. I did this when I jumped from a job I really did like, even with its downsides, to a shiny new opportunity without thinking about it too deeply. That is how I found myself in that job I hated, and was uncomfortable with from the moment I started.
The moral of the story: the grass is greenest where you water it. Learning to be happy with where you currently are in life is one of the great struggles of humanity. I am a firm believer in taking risks, and making your life what you want it. Never be afraid to tackle new challenges and working hard to elevate your level of living. But understand that no matter where you are, in whatever situation, there is always good and bad. No one had a perfect job, circumstance, or life. Make the most of yours. Chance are extremely likely that your peers, friends, and family look at you and are envious of your circumstances.