Greener Grass

Greener Grass

I regularly rediscover that the secret to happiness is learning to be happy with what you have. I always forget that bit of wisdom, and then I witness Life happening to other people, which reminds me all over again.

It’s a challenge for most people, though; people usually want what they don’t have, and that want — it could be anything: a new car, a bigger house, a better job. They see what other people have and think to themselves, “I’d be happy with that. Why can’t I have that?”

So people buy into stuff — a crap load of stuff — thinking it will make them happy. Or, if what they want can’t be bought, they long for it with the passion of unrequited love.

As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The distance creates that effect; you see the grass from afar, so you miss the small brown patches that are more obvious up close. Also, you miss all the hard work your neighbor has put into making that greener grass what it is (if it is indeed greener) — the watering they do, the mowing, the careful distribution of grass seeds, or whatever.

Meanwhile, what we might not know, the neighbor may be looking over at our yard and thinking, “Why can’t my grass look like theirs? It’s so full and natural looking, and there aren’t so many lumps caused by gopher holes.” So there we both sit, neighbors, envying each other’s yards and being very unhappy with our own, completely missing out on the unparalleled benefits of appreciation.

Appreciation for what we have does extraordinary wonders; it alleviates the want for anything else.

Last week, after spending some time with my sister’s happy family, feeling the love and warmth of caring for kids, I was beginning to feel sorry for my single status and wishing I was in a relationship of some kind. But that same weekend, I went to a birthday party and got to speak with people I hadn’t seen in a long while, catching up with everyone’s news. One person was recently divorced, and another was seriously contemplating it; I heard of others who were regularly having issues and going to counseling, many of them commenting how lucky I was not to be burdened by living with another person’s faults and having only myself to consider.

Oh, those complaints!

Then I remembered being in a relationship myself, remembered the downsides of it as well as the upsides, and there were plenty of downsides that I could recall — paying the other person’s bills, cleaning the other person’s messes, spending what free time I had doing what the other person wanted, and generally just dealing with clashes and conflicts having to do with the differences in values and personalities. Suddenly, I could no longer figure out why I wanted so much to be in a relationship after all.

They’re right. I’m lucky. I should appreciate how good I have it.

And just like that, I found my happiness.

Amazing how easy that was. All it took was talking with people on the other side of the fence and learning of their own struggles and their own envy of what they perceived to be the greener grass on my own property. They couldn’t see all the good I saw in their situation because they were blinded by the bad. The only good that they could see was what they didn’t have, and because of that, they saw themselves as unlucky and unhappy.

I hope my own complaints changed that for them.

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