Why the Grass Being Greener on the Other Side isn’t the Issue

People often say, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side”.  And some people, to be even more clever, follow that up with, “it’s greener where you water it.”


Many years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Greener Pastures” and in my research, I found a photo of two cows on one side of a fence, sticking their heads through it to eat the grass on the other side.  It was the same grass that passed under the fence, under their feet, and into their field.  So, it was hypothesized that the cows were exercising a natural desire to have what they had limited or no access to. 

But they’re cows, so who knows?

Then, I found another photo where there were cows on both sides of a fence and they were all sticking their heads through to eat the grass on each other’s side.  So, the grass had nothing to do with it.  The difference seemed to be an individual thing; a desire to seek outside the boundaries. 

Our human species as we are, appeared around 200,000 years ago.  At the time, there were several other species, yet only we remain.  Why?

Adaptability and versatility, as well as our innovation and figure-it-out skills when we pushed into different environments, different terrains, different food sources, and very different climates.  We sought out and created art to share information across cultural groups and developed sophisticated forms of communication and then created societies. 

According to an article by Melissa Hogenboom with BBC Earth, Neanderthals “did their hunting, cooking, sleeping, sex, and recreation” and that’s it.  While they were stronger and had brains as large as ours, they were simply content. These and other ancient hominins seemed to do the same thing over and over again. “They found a rut and were stuck in it”. 

It’s in our nature to seek; to stick our head through the fence to see what that grass tastes like and to build a space station.  We invented the wheel and now we’re above the clouds, sipping wine in first class. However, it seems that lately, the smarter we get, the less intelligent we’re becoming, but that’s another story.

Whenever I hear someone say, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side”, I just want to kick a damn fence down.  While Santosha, the second of the Niyamas under the eight limbs of yoga, is all about contentment, it doesn’t mean sitting on our ass and doing nothing.  It simply means appreciating what we have, while we move forward and discover onward.

If there is something inside of you that’s stirring; something that’s yearning to go, to seek, to try, to learn, travel, and do, … do it.  We have to, or we’ll never be content. 

And the thing is, it’s not so much about the grass being greener; it’s about it being different.

Sometimes, we just need different.  Let’s go check it out.

Photo by Greta Farnedi on Unsplash

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