We’ve all experienced the “grass is greener” effect at some point in our lives. We peer through our skewed lenses and determine that someone else is experiencing something greater or better than we are. We have thoughts such as my boss has a better life than me because he makes more money. More guys are attracted to my friend because she is prettier and has better clothes. My brother’s marriage is better than mine because he lives in a big house and drives an expensive car.
In the age of social media we are bombarded with images that make us think everyone else is living a life filled with champagne wishes and caviar dreams. These manufactured images are small excerpts from people’s lives that exacerbates the “grass is greener” effect and lead some to believe that everyone’s life is exponentially better than theirs.
We often compare what we have to what others have without the benefit of knowing another person’s truth, issues, or story behind what we have perceived as success.
We often compare what we have to what others have without the benefit of knowing another person’s truth, issues, or story behind what we have perceived as success. This is a great character flaw in human behavior. It causes us to focus on the negative and dwell on what we think we lack rather than appreciating what we have. I’ve often wondered if people experience the “grass is greener” effect in reverse. Do people see what they perceive to be negative or lacking in someone or something and become immediately appreciative and grateful for who they are, what they have, or their current circumstances?
I don’t mean that you’ve looked at someone and thought you were better than them, or thought that you were doing well because your situation was not as dire as their situation. I simply mean that you saw, heard, or experienced something that you perceived as brown grass; and didn’t become judgmental but immediately became filled with gratitude for what you have been blessed with.
In my work as a Relationship Life Coach the “grass is greener” effect has been a major source of contention in relationships. The “grass is greener” effect has caused many relationships to experience infidelity or end up in divorce. Well, recently the question of whether people experience the “grass is greener” effect in reverse popped into my head while attending a little league football game that my significant other was officiating. I was seated next to a group of team moms. Their conversations indicated that they were very comfortable and familiar with each other. There was one conversation in particular that had me quietly give thanks and feel grateful for the many acts of kindness, service, and love that my mate chooses to show me.
The conversation was between two team moms. Mommy number one had a son that played on one of the competing teams. Mommy number two also had a son that played on the same team and her significant other served as a team Coach. It’s important to note that mommy number two was pregnant and had two restless toddlers to care for during the game. During the conversation mommy number one asked mommy number two if she would be attending church on Sunday. Mommy number two stated that she was planning to attend and quickly inquired about the start and end time for the service. She then stated that her significant other would not be attending service because he would be watching football at that time.
There was a brief pause in the conversation, then Mommy number two asked what time service would end again. Mommy number one told her once again that service ended about 1:00 pm. Mommy number two sighed heavily, stared blankly toward the field and said to no one in particular that she would be late for her hair appointment on Sunday because she would have to take the kids all the way back home from church; as her significant other was not going to miss some of the game to come and meet her to get the kids. No one responded to her comment or seemed to notice her mood change and the fact that she seemed to be fading away.
What happened at the end of the game really made me appreciative of the things my mate does for me that we so often take for granted. As we were all preparing to leave, this very pregnant mommy begin to break down the folding chairs that she and the kids sat in, fold the blankets they used to keep warm, gather all of the kids toys and snacks, all while managing to keep an eye on the two rambunctious toddlers. Her significant other bellowed something to her as he walked off of the field. She bellowed back and waited for him to come and help her. She stood for a moment and watched him continue to walk further away in the opposite direction. She finally gave up waiting for help, and said to no one in particular, “I guess I’ll carry all of this stuff back to the car.” Another man that was standing near us heard her and asked if she needed any help. She seemed startled that he had noticed her and shocked that he offered her help. She quickly gave an awkward smile and said, “No thanks I got it.” She walked off with the kids and stuff in tow in a manner that said this was all too familiar to her.
My Own Green Grass
In that moment I did not have the benefit of knowing the truth about her story. I did however have the benefit of knowing the truth about my story. My mind flooded with thoughts of all the things that my mate does for me daily without cause or pause that I truly appreciate. Because he insists, I am not ALLOWED to open any doors, pull my chair out to be seated, walk on the outside on the sidewalk or in a parking lot, carry any groceries from the store or into the house, pump gas, carry anything heavy, wash my car, take my car to get repairs, drive alone late at night, do any yard work or home repairs beyond changing a light bulb, refuse help when offered and needed, go unsupported in anything I want to do, or not accept his daily gift of prayer. He has chosen not to ALLOW me to feel unprotected or unloved ever and words can’t adequately express how that makes me feel. These are things that I am grateful for each and every day. But getting a quick snap shot of someone else’s brown grass made me more appreciative of what I have been blessed with.
Yes, I too have lost focus of what’s important and have fallen victim to the “grass is greener” effect, but I’ve also been present enough to recognize and appreciate the beauty and bounty of the grass that grows in my own yard.
BMWK, Have you ever looked at someone’s brown grass and thought I really appreciate what fertilizing my own grass has yielded me?