The other day, I came across a hilarious card. It read: With deepest sympathy on the passing of your lawn.
When I was growing up, our lawn always looked terrible. My neighbors spent a lot of time and money on their yards, having chemical companies come in and spray every week and spending their Saturday mornings weeding and pruning, while my family was content to leave big, brown drought patches throughout (in the name of natural lawn keeping).
When I would walk home from school and pass by all of the houses with their synthetically green-colored grass and then reach my house, the one with dandelions popping out everywhere and overgrown shrubs, it was obvious that our yard stuck out a like a big, sore thumb. In my pre-teen perspective, it was just so embarrassing. The grass was, literally, much greener on the other sides.
But, 25 years later, I now realize how great it was to have grown up in a yard where I could actually play in the grass every day, even if it wasn’t the most attractive one on the block. I recoil when our HOA comes to spray the tiny plot outside of my adult home. Stay off turf for 24 hours after spraying, the sign reads. All of those carcinogenic chemicals! Just to have pretty-looking grass.
Which brings me to the point I’m trying to make. The point about that grass. That grass that you think looks better than yours. That grass that you’ve decided is greener.
There are a lot of things I get to learn and experience as a life coach. One of the most enlightening has been how so many people (regardless of the many blessings they have) find ways to make themselves unhappy by comparing themselves to others, convincing themselves that their lives are, in some way, coming up short.
Some of my clients make themselves miserable imagining that the grass others have is greener. They imagine that the friend who is getting married is so much luckier, without taking into account the awful in-laws she will have to endure for the rest of her married life. They imagine the friend who received a promotion must be happier, even though her new, longer work hours leave little time for her to enjoy herself. They are envious of the friend who is skinnier or who is more outgoing or who stays home with her children and gets to read more books, without ever imagining the sacrifices and difficulties each choice requires.
So I’m convinced that the grass can only be greener on the other side to those who lack imagination. Jealousy is, essentially, a sign that one lacks creative thinking. If you are convinced others have it better than you, you probably aren’t seeing the whole picture. At the very least, you’ve failed to acknowledge that every advantage comes with its own disadvantage and, even worse, you’ve been spending your energy on envy rather than appreciating what you do have.
Next time you try to convince yourself that the grass is greener somewhere else, that someone has it better that you do, you always have the choice to stop. You can always remind yourself of the people and the things in your life that are great. Each time that bubble of envy surfaces, you can use it as an opportunity to stop and be grateful for the unique and awesome things you’ve created for your own life.
How awesome your grass is, or isn’t, is all a matter of perspective. The grass can only be greener on the other side if you allow it to be.