The grass is not always greener 
(on the other
side of the fence).

One of the most common sources of unhappiness and distress these days seems
to be what I call the “Grass is always greener” syndrome.
 
What this means is that we are looking externally for explanations as to why our
lives aren’t measuring up to our expectations (our projections as to how we
think things “should be”).
Rather than look internally (our egos don’t prefer this), we begin to think
others have it better than us; better partner, job, salary, home, figure, …fill in the
blank.

Why do we do this?   A sense of
entitlement?  A feeling of deprivation
that we feel we“need” more? Is it due to societal pressure (i.e. keeping up with the
Jones’)?  Is it different for everyone?

According to many recent studies in Positive Psychology, when we look to
external success for happiness, our brains will tend to move the satisfaction
(happiness) goal post.   It’s how we are wired.  This means that if we continue to view
satisfaction as existing outside of ourselves, then once we get the desired
partner, job, home, degree, etc..our brains will move the goal post, and we
will set our sights on the next acquisition, accomplishment.  Happiness then becomes elusive, an endless quest.

Here are some of the consequences of this “grass is always greener” syndrome:

1.    
Restlessness.  You may move around a lot- jump from job, home, relationship,
etc..  As a result, you may not stay long enough in one situation to
develop a true sense of genuine authenticity; 
you miss out on relationships that may yield rich rewards of true
intimacy if they were given a chance.
2.     
Anxiety.  You may become anxious and worried about “missing out”
or “running out of time” and afraid of not being or having enough.
3.      Difficulty making decisions. Often
people start to ruminate and second guess themselves, perhaps even feel paralyzed
to make decisions that may be “the wrong one”. 
This can lead to feelings of helplessness.
4.     
Low Self Esteem.  You will begin to lose confidence as a result of the
anxiety, restlessness, difficulty making decisions, chronic unhappiness and
disappointment.  This can lead to
feelings of hopelessness, and depression.
5.     
Not being present in your own life.  When you continue to focus on the future,
fantasizing about the “grass” that is sure to be “greener”, you are not being mindful
of the present.  You become attached and
preoccupied with the projection; continuing to fantasize about turning away
from your own life.
6.     
Irritability. You start to nitpick, find fault with those in your
current circumstances whom you feel aren’t measuring up to your expectations.

Doesn’t sound fun, huh?
 So, while these may be some of the consequences of the “grass is always greener” syndrome.  You can
begin to dismantle all of this, and then begin to find happiness within yourself and your current circumstances.  Here are some ways to go about it:

Dismantling the Syndrome:

1.   Identify the Projection.  You have to be willing to look at the situation objectively.  What is the fantasy about the scenario you are imagining? 
What is attracting you to this “other” person, job, situation, etc..   What is it about you that is getting you “hooked” by this fantasy?

*Perhaps you may want to engage in a therapeutic relationship with a mental
health counselor, creative arts therapist or psychologist to help you to do this objectively; and
compassionately.  Feeling quilty and
flagellating oneself for having fantasies will only
deepen that sense of hopelessness, and shame. 

2.  Look at both the positive and negative aspects of the fantasy. When we fantasize, we look only at the
positive aspects of the projection, ignoring the negative ones. Right?  Also be willing to look at both the positive and negative aspects of what is occurring in
your own life.

3.     
Identify the core feelings.
  What are the core feelings?  What is
holding you back from fully engaging in your current life circumstance, job,
relationship, etc.. For example, Are you feeling grief of letting go of being single, grief of committing to one person,
embracing life on its own terms, the uncertainties, fear of true intimacy, and
surrendering to it; refusal to accept responsibility for one’s own feelings. 
4.     
Address the fear
, and take responsibility for thoughts,
feelings that create it!
5.     
Process grief of letting go
of the fantasy,
projection..
6.     
Embrace the life you are living!
 How do we do this?

How to embrace the life you are living?

 Cultivate
mindfulness. 
Mindfulness is present
moment awareness.  It is non-judgmental
way of becoming aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and
environment.  Mindfulness
helps you to appreciate life as it happens. It stops us from agonizing over
what might’ve been or what could be. It just brings us back to the present.
Some of the benefits of a mindfulness practice
include:  it improves your ability to pay
attention, it enhances relationships, decreases anxiety and depression, and
increases feelings of self compassion.
If “Mindfulness” is a new concept for you, I
suggest this link to learn more:


When you are no longer preoccupied with another life, job,
circumstance, relationship, etc.. You can begin to see that often what you were
obsessing about is already present within you.  “It was there all along” ( This is similar to the “Wizard of Oz” lesson learned by Dorothy from Glinda, “It was inside you all along”.)

  
Cultivate gratitude, appreciation..
When you start to
become “unhooked” through increased awareness, you begin to see your life as it
truly is.  You can find gratitude for
what you have, where you are, and who you are with.