“You may think the grass is greener on the other side but if you take the time to water your own grass it would be just as green.” – Unknown
On April 29, 2011, an estimated 200 million spectators tuned in to watch the Royal Wedding. After so much hype and publicity, the day had finally arrived. I was part of that global audience, glued to my TV screen, witnessing Kate Middleton and Prince William’s nuptials. Cynics and critics sneered at the media for giving the occasion more importance than it deserved. It even made me question my anticipation for the event. I wondered how I could be so happy for this privileged couple who I’d never met and who (most definitely) didn’t know of my existence.
I mulled over this for a couple of days until I finally understood. When I peeled back the layers, I realized that many women, like me, were deeply moved by the wedding because of what it symbolized. At some point, almost every girl dreams of having a fairytale wedding to her prince charming. Kate was living that dream. Watching her that day allowed others to live vicariously through her.
During the broadcast, I turned toward my mother who was watching it with me and said: “Oh wouldn’t it be great to be in her shoes?” My mom smiled and said, “Of course! But…would it really?” She glanced at me with amusement and went on to say, “Royal figures like Kate do enjoy a lot of perks and luxuries, but you have to understand that the role she’s taking on entails a lot of responsibilities, restrictions and expectations.” As she said this, I had a flashback to the late Princess Diana, the perfect example of a beautiful and compassionate princess whose sensitive temperament caused her to struggle with the scrutiny and pressures of being part of that world. I emphatically replied to her, “You’re right. Perhaps being a princess is not all it’s cut out to be!”
It was refreshing to have that reality check. Fortunately, it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm and willingness to revel in the splendor that surrounded the lavish wedding. After all, indulging in occasional escapism can be a healthy pastime that helps us envision a future that excites us. Like a child, we can partake in mental play where we try on different realities for size and see which appeals to us most, while not allowing ourselves to get stuck in our fantasies.
When occasional havens of imagination become a permanent place we live in, that’s when we know we’re in trouble. It’s symptomatic of believing that the grass is greener on the other side. This belief is fuelled by a dissatisfaction caused by of a lack of excitement, fun, abundance, connection or whatever else that we’re craving. We somehow perceive that if we could only get to the “other side” we would be happier, smarter, richer, more loved, and respected. When our consciousness is dominated by this way of thinking, other people appear to have more than us and we’re unable to see things as they really are for them. We’re so caught up in our belief that there are greener pastures on the distant horizon that we forget to appreciate our own side of the fence.
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we’re hoping to reclaim our personal sense of power in some faraway land, when the power to create change has been within us all along. People suffer when they don’t own this truth and preoccupy themselves with the search for another life elsewhere. The only way to get unstuck from this mental pattern is to re-orient ourselves to deal with the life that we have. This acceptance of reality forms the foundation for a contented, confident, and peaceful mindset. An enduring teaching of Buddhism says that the only way to happiness is to learn to want what you have and not to want what you don’t have.
I know that accepting your reality as it is may sound deflating. But I urge you to see the acceptance of your reality as an opportunity for an awakening that will empower you to deal with truth. It will liberate you from the shackles of delusion that held you back so that you can develop, improve, and maximize on what’s available to you in your unique circumstances, using your resources and talents to their greatest effect. You’ll eventually come to see that the grass is not always greener on the other side – it’s greener wherever it’s watered by you.
If you have a case of “grass is greener,” here’s how you can shift it:
1. Get an objective perspective: The first step is to replace the rose-colored glasses through which you’re seeing a situation or circumstance. Our interpretation of every situation is based on many variables such as our belief systems, emotions, and life experience that could very well distort how we perceive things. Getting an objective view requires neutralizing your internal world first so that you can avoid projecting anything that might compromise your accuracy. Write down your thoughts in a journal, speak with a trusted friend or counselor, step away from a situation for a while so that you can gather your thoughts and partake in activities such as meditation, walks, or exercise.
2. Engage in a treasure hunt: Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, it might help to consider what exactly about the “other side” is appealing to you. What makes it appear greener to you? While considering this, it’s important to focus on the intangible aspects rather than the literal ones. For example, I’ve always admired Oprah and the exciting life that she has. If I looked at it from a literal standpoint, I would think that her wealth, fame, and power are what make her life desirable. But when I dig deeper, I find that what I really love about her life is her ability to influence others as a thought leader who shares her platform with others for the greater good. I’ve come to realize that I can do the same thing in my own life. Even if I start on a smaller scale, at least I’ll be on a path that aligns with my heart.
3. Allow yourself to dream and then take action: Once you’re aware of what you desire, the next step is to allow your imagination to run the show. Let your dreams fill you with excitement to fuel your initiative, set goals, and create a feasible plan of action. You can receive step-by-step guidance on this process by downloading my free guide The Fast Track to Turning Your Dreams into Reality.
4. Accept what you can’t change with grace: Often there will be things on the other side of the fence that you can’t have in your life. For example, you can’t change your basic body shape, skin color, or physical features. You may not have the voice to become a diva like Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, or the genius of Einstein or Katherine Johnson. But, you definitely have your own unique strengths waiting to be discovered. Acknowledge what you can’t change with grace and focus on cultivating the natural gifts that you’re born with because they’re indicative of your life purpose, calling, and completely unique to you.
We’ve all come into this life with different lessons to learn. Based on this truth, we’ll find that we attract the people, places, opportunities, and challenges that provide the perfect classrooms. So, every time you find yourself looking in another direction, bring your focus back to your path, trusting that it will lead you to your destiny.
All my best on your journey,
Question: Have you ever felt that the grass is greener on the other side of your fence? How did it make you feel when this happened?