Written by Debra Alper
It’s a cliché, but so often it seems frustratingly true – Why is the grass always greener on someone else’s lawn??
Call it the envy of what others have, insecurity about one’s own standing, or as some have dubbed it “the grass is always greener syndrome,” the belief that something else is always something better holds us back in many ways. In particular, when we look outside ourselves for the next better thing, we misdirect our energy, pushing us farther from where we want to be. When we preoccupy ourselves with fantasies about a different life, we are in essence distracting ourselves from our reality, and preventing ourselves from accepting and potentially improving that which we do have.
In recent years, acceptance has gained traction among mental health providers as a skill that is often key to one’s mental wellness and satisfaction. But in fact, philosophers and sages have been extolling the virtues of acceptance for ages. From the time of the biblical David, Judaic writings teach: “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.” Put another way, happiness is not necessarily getting everything you want, but finding a way to want the things you have. This is certainly true in the realm of mental health: for many of us, the key to contentment and peace of mind is to look less closely at what others have, and instead turn that focus inward.
While the task of accepting what we have and maximizing it is a life long endeavor, the benefits of committing ourselves to this task are tremendous. When we focus on what we don’t have, envying the grass on someone else’s lawn, we convince ourselves that we are at a disadvantage, lacking what we need to achieve success and happiness. How then can we expect to feel, but sad, frustrated, and lacking motivation? Conversely, when we are face to face with what we do have, honestly accepting both the limitations and the potential of our reality, we stand poised for truth growth.
Our lawn may be parched and overgrown, but once we accept that it us ours to work with, we can finally get to work! With some trimming and watering, and perhaps planting a few flowers here and there, the potential exists not to replace our reality, but to elevate it to greater and greater heights.