We’ve all heard the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side” and many of us fall victim to this way of thinking. We end up never truly happy with where we are right now because we become fixated on the thought that true happiness lies somewhere else. We never feel good enough about our current situation because we always feel like something is missing. This causes us to feel unhappy and incomplete. It deprives us from enjoying our present situation.
This can happen with our relationships, jobs and environment. It prevents us from feeling satisfied, secure or stable because we’re always thinking there is something better elsewhere.
In many ways, it’s really a struggle with commitment and is usually based on fear, fantasy and projection.
One reason we may believe the grass is greener on the other side is because we fear commitment, we fear being trapped, losing our individuality, being bored or being oppressed.
In people who fear commitment, having to compromise certain individual values for the good of the whole may feel like control and oppression. Because of this, they start believing that there is something else out there that will allow them to have all they want, desire and value, on their terms without any compromises.
In reality this is rarely true, but this is where fantasy comes into play.
We want what we don’t have and when we have “the grass is greener” mentality, we create a fantasy that says we can have everything we don’t have without losing any of the things we are currently happy with.
What usually happens however is that once we jump the fence to the other side, after the “honeymoon phase” and the novelty of the new situation wears off, we tend to realize that there are other things that are missing there also and find ourselves longing for the other side of the fence again.
It’s similar to the 80/20 rule when you have 80% of what you want, but you put so much emphasis on the 20% you’re missing, that you jump ship to have it, only to find out that now you’re missing the other 80%. Ideally you’ll find the 100% you’re looking for, but because no person or situation is perfect, that is usually a fantasy and this is where projection comes in.
When we are trapped thinking that the grass is greener on the other side, usually it’s because we are placing our personal unhappiness onto something outside of ourselves such as a relationship, job or living situation. We think that if we can just make those things perfect, then we’ll be or feel perfect and happy.
However, the dissatisfaction really lies within us. This is why when some people change jobs, partners or even locations, after the initial high of the newness wears off, they often find themselves just as dissatisfied as they were before.
The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It
The grass always starts off lush and perfect (the honeymoon phase), but eventually it begins to wear down the longer we stand on it. You can jump the fence to the other side, but eventually that grass too will lose it’s freshness. The grass on the side of the fence we’re on, no matter how dull it may look, once watered, nurtured and maintained can become greener.
The grass we have may never be as lush as it was in the beginning (because we get used to it, recognize it’s imperfections, etc.).
Our constant search for that greener grass that will always be shiny and lush is just our internal desire to be happy, stress free and fully satisfied.
However, we are all imperfect people. None of us are without flaws. Therefore, the search for that evergreen grass is just an illusion that will always leave us feeling incomplete and unhappy with our current situation, no matter how good that situation actually is.
Does this mean that you never try to better your situation? Of course note. There are definitely times when you MUST better your situation such as moving from a job where you are unhappy and finding one that is more fulfilling, or getting out of an unhealthy relationship and getting into a healthy one.
However, people who have this “grass is greener” mentality usually have a certain pattern that keeps them from being happy in the present for very long:
Repetition: Constantly looking for something “better”, such as jobs, relationships and location.
Perfection: Always looking for the “perfect” job, environment or partner. They can be in a really good relationship, but leave it because they think there is someone out there just a little better than their current partner and they’ll constantly repeat this cycle, never feeling fulfilled for long.
Wanting to have their cake and eat it too: Not wanting to compromise. They want to have all of their wants and needs met without having to give up anything in return and that rarely works in life.
Feeling like they need to move, runaway or escape: Always wanting to relocate, change jobs or relationship in order to “start over”. They don’t realizing that wherever they go, there they are. They take them and their deeper reasons for not being happy with them and will most likely just recreate that dissatisfaction somewhere else or with someone else.
Some people are fine with living life like this, in this constant state of not being satisfied, happy or stable for long. If you want a life that is fuller, more stable and secure, then you have to resolve this issue by:
- figuring out what are the underlying reasons within yourself that are keeping you from being happy and able to commit.
- Work on, nurture and increase the connections to what you presently have in your life in order to strengthen them so that they don’t become unsatisfying.
Once you have an internal place of stability, you’ll find less of a need to keep searching for that illusive fantasy of perfection in your external life.