Cam Taylor

Be inspired. Be focused. Be tenacious.

Busting the Greener Grass Syndrome

There’s an old saying that often appears true, “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” We fall victim to this limiting belief whenever we start thinking that life would be better if we had what we see others holding in their hands (circumstances, opportunity, possessions, talent, or success).


The contrary truth I want us to consider here is reflected in the following advice:

Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky. (Dr. Seuss)

My Confession

I was at the gym the other day riding a stationary bike while watching some elite athletes compete in a triathlon. I felt myself excited as I watched them ride their bikes at top speed around the course. Then as the bike ride ended and the transition to the run began, I felt a green-like envy rise within me. “I wish I could run!”

The grass was glistening green on the other side of the fence! I envied those runners – and their ability to run. I envied them because I used to love running and being part of the fun and competition.

Busting the Greener Grass Syndrome 

Thankfully, I caught myself turning green with envy and didn’t like what I saw. My next step was to turn this greener grass moment into an opportunity for growth on my side of the fence. The advice I told myself went something like this.

  • Stop looking over the fence and watering stinking thinking

Dale Carnegie said this about true happiness, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

It’s not about whether you look over the fence or not – of course you’ll look! It’s what you think about when you look over the fence. If all you have are self-defeating, negative, “woe is me” thoughts, your own grass will turn brown and you’ll stay stuck. Busting the greener grass syndrome, starts in your mind.

  • Stone-wall bitterness from taking root

One of the ditches you can fall into when hurt or disappointed is bitterness. Bitterness forms when a hurt or an offense is unforgiven and released. Bitterness is released when forgiveness is offered. Solomon in his wisdom knew it well, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. (Ron McManus)

  • Start accepting your limitations

Accepting your limitations is an important step in busting the greener grass syndrome. Acceptance of what is your current reality is, helps you see more clearly what you have to work with.

Those in the counseling profession spend a lot of time helping clients re-orient themselves to dealing with the life that they actually have (versus the one they wish they had).  At first, this can seem deflating but when you bust the myth of being able to have someone else’s lawn, it paves the way for the rebuilding process.

  • Study yourself and see what you have to work with

What do you have to work with? What’s in your toolbox you can develop and work with? What talent, under developed skill, hidden gift or ability is in your hand that could be used? If you can’t run – what can you do? If you can’t work in the same job as before, what can you do?

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. (Frederick Keonig)

  • Step into the opportunities you now have

As things change, new opportunities will open up to us. The key is to prepare yourself so that when the new opportunities comes, you’ll not be too busy looking at the grass on the other side of the fence to notice it.

In the words of Alexander Graham Bell, “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

The grass is greener where it’s watered, nurtured, fertilized and looked after!

When have your fallen into the greener grass syndrome?
How can you water your own grass today?

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About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

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