Why the grass is never greener and how to be happier today

in Tips / Self

Lifestyle. Opportunities. Wealth. Just think how far we’ve come in the past 100 years – especially when you consider what we have today compared to our ancestors.

My great grandmother married very young, lived in the same place her whole life, and had 11 children. She never had a "career" and never got a chance to go on holiday. Her life was hard, poor, and lacking in any real opportunity.

I wonder if she ever dreamed of moving to another city, or transforming her life, or seeing the world with just a backpack. I bet she did, but back then there weren’t as many opportunities.

Thanks to technology and an improved society, our lifestyles are completely transformed. We have choice. We can live pretty much anywhere we want. We can travel and see the world. We can secure jobs on the other side of the planet. We can start our own businesses and serve clients thousands of miles away. It’s definitely an exciting time.

But when there is a wealth of opportunity, you’d think we’d all be happier, right? Wrong.

You see, the problem with having choices is that we become restless. We can’t settle on what we already have or be satisfied with what we’ve got because we’ll always be wondering about the next big thing. Social media doesn't help either; Instagram and Facebook are guaranteed to make you feel inadequate when it seems like everyone else is having an absolute blast.

It’s called "the grass is always greener" syndrome. We think someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness.

We lie awake at night torturing ourselves over what we should do next, wondering if we’re missing out on something big. We feel we’re wasting our lives if we’re not doing something more important.

There’s also this sense of time pressure, particularly with my generation who had the saying "The World is your Oyster" drilled into us from a young age. This means there can be a sense of urgency, because we feel like we’re running out of time and should be doing something greater or somehow we’ll fail.

We also think we’re special and that our lives are destined to be adventurous, thrilling, and hugely successful. And when they’re not turning out that way? We become depressed. We want more. We get "grass is greener" syndrome. That’s when we become unhappy and spend all of our time and energy on focusing on what we don’t have rather than counting our blessings.

Some of us might start to move around a lot – often to find the "perfect" city or town, somewhere we can call home, somewhere we’ll be happy. Others might jump from one job or relationship to the next, never fully committing to anything.

But once we’ve made that leap to the other side – once we’ve moved to where we thought the grass would be greener and where we’d be happy – we discover that it is no different. We start to wonder whether the grass is greener elsewhere.

We are never truly happy when we have "grass is greener" syndrome. It’s a fact.

Focusing on things we don’t have is a recipe for disaster. It only leads to a miserable existence and causes us to forget what’s most important – and that’s what’s happening right now. As John Lennon once said: "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans." And that’s certainly true.

"Focusing on things we don’t have is a recipe for disaster. It only leads to a miserable existence and causes us to forget what’s most important – and that’s what’s happening right now."

We all seem to be victims of ignoring what’s actually happening right at this very moment, which is only natural when we have so much choice. We can all forget the whole point of happiness, and that’s peace of mind, acceptance, and mindfulness. Essentially, it’s being happy no matter where you are in the world, or what you’re doing, or whom you’re with.

Being mindful quietens the mind and brings us a sense of peace that no other quest for a "perfect life" could ever bring. Mindfulness helps you to appreciate life as it happens. It stops us from agonising over what might’ve been or what could be. It just brings us back to the present.

Don’t get me wrong – opportunity is a marvellous thing and I only wish my great grandmother had the choices I enjoy today. But I’m slowly coming to realise that she might’ve been just fine with her lifestyle. She was quite possibly happier than me. Her life was simple and perhaps there’s a clue in that. Maybe the simple life is where we can all find peace.

Yes, embrace everything that comes along. Yes, go out and see the world and enjoy everything this life has to offer. But whenever you feel yourself losing focus and wondering where you’ll be happy next, bring yourself back to the present, consider what you already have, look around you and enjoy the moments that are happening right now.

Find peace in reading a good book, indulging in some gardening, or going for a walk in the countryside. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds and breathe deeply. Start to notice what is happening right now, and I guarantee you’ll find peace.

Because happiness isn’t about where you live or the things you do. It isn’t about being on an impossible mission to do everything, see everywhere, and accomplish everything you ever dreamed. Happiness is a state of mind.

How you achieve it is by building a life around your current location. Making new friends, settling into a routine, finding ways in which to enjoy "the moment" rather than dwelling on all the things you could be doing or the places you could be visiting.

Remember that all we ever have is right now. Forget about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Take each day as it comes, and most of all, stop thinking that the grass is greener, because it never really is.

This article was originally written for TinyBuddha and published in Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself

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