“The grass is always greener where you water it.” –Unknown
The first time I heard the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side,” I was 12 years old—and I heard it in song.
I didn’t know at the time that this was from the play Woman of the Year, because two women in my theater group sang it as part of a musical review. Still, it made a deep impression on me.
One of the characters is a housewife, and the other is a famous TV news personality—and yet they both feel certain they’re missing out on amazing experiences because of the lifestyle they’ve chosen.
The celebrity sings, “I can see you planning picnics. That’s wonderful!”
The housewife responds, “What’s so wonderful? Eating at the White House! That’s wonderful!”
And the song goes on like this, with two women comparing their lives, and assuming the other has it better.
Back then, I felt painfully envious of my sister, who frequently won starring roles and also had a boyfriend. It didn’t occur to me that focusing on everything she had wasn’t a proactive way to create the life I wanted.
Comparing my talent to hers didn’t help me land any roles. It just made me feel inadequate—which showed in my auditions. Comparing my looks to hers didn’t help me feel better about myself. It just made me feel unattractive—which showed in the way I carried myself.
I also didn’t realize her life wasn’t perfect, and she had plenty of her own challenges.
I’ve since learned that there is always going to be someone else who appears to have everything we want, especially in the digital age, where many of us narrate all the fun we’re having through updates, photos, and videos online.
But we tend to overestimate other people’s happiness and forget that in every life, there is a little sunshine and a little rain.
No matter how perfect someone else’s life seems, they still have their own struggles. And they still deal with the natural human instinct to wonder what else is out there, and if there’s something else they should be doing.
We can either focus on other people’s perceived good fortune, or focus our energy on recognizing and fostering our own.
We do that by planting tiny seeds for joy, and then watering them with our attention.
What seeds will you plant today?
Photo by onecog2many