Sometimes the grass really IS greener on the other side (and how to tell the difference)

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Photo by Frank Köhntopp.

You’ve heard the saying, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

In other words, the metaphorical pasture you’re dreaming of is usually just as brown as the one you’re in.

The lesson is valuable, especially for those of us jumping from pasture to pasture as soon as things get hard. But I would argue that the opposite of this saying is just as true. Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side.

For every person jumping from pasture to pasture, there’s a person dutifully staying in the same old pasture, even though it’s brown AF.

“Get out of there, dude!” their friends tell them.

“Just hop the fence! It’s greener on the other side,” prods their family.

But these people just stay put. Because even though it is a total mud pit, completely unfulfilling and maybe even dangerous, it’s familiar. And familiar things are hard to discard. Even if they are sucking the life out of you.

Then the dude in the brown pasture puts his hands on his hips and retorts, The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, you know.”

But to this I say, what if it is?

Sometimes the grass really IS greener on the other side. Click To Tweet

Let’s get one thing straight

There are always going to be problems, no matter if your pasture is green or brown.

In his practical book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson says we’ll have problems no matter what we do.

If we start poor and become rich, all our problems don’t go away. We just trade our poor people problems for rich people problems.

No matter which metaphorical pasture we’re in, we’re going to have problems. But some problems are better than others.

When we are making the decision to change pastures (i.e. change careers, exit our relationship, start a family) we are really making the decision between the problems of our current pasture and the problems of the pasture we’re dreaming of.

Now that we’ve got that straight, I want you to identify a pasture (circumstance) in your life you’ve been dreaming of changing. Whats the first thing that comes to mind?

Got it?

You’ll need it as you read the next section.

No matter which metaphorical pasture we’re in, we’re going to have problems. But some problems are better than others. Click To Tweet

Should I stay or should I go?

Welp, you’ve got three choices:

  1. Stay in your muddy pasture and keep being miserable
  2. Learn to make your brown pasture green again
  3. Change pastures

Choice 1 always sucks. So why do we keep making it? Let’s wake up and actually explore the other options.

You with me?

Choices 2 and 3 are what we’re really deciding between. It’s a tough decision because it differs for every person and situation.

Let me make it easier for you:

  • If you’re being physically, emotionally, mentally or sexually abused, GTFO. The grass is definitely greener on the other side of that pasture.
  • If you consistently dread your job, it’s time to make some changes. There are better problems you can choose that won’t turn you into a zombie.
  • If it’s been a while since you’ve done anything other than mooch your way through life, hop that fence, man! It’s time. There are green pastures just waiting to nourish you with more than the fast food, video games, and pounds of weed you’re currently surviving on.

If you relate to any of these categories, the grass really IS greener on the other side. Choose choice #3.

But for some of us, it isn’t that simple. What do we do when we can’t see through all the grey area surrounding our pasture?

Here’s how I get clarity:

  • Do the opposite of what you usually do. My tendency is to stay in unhealthy situations for way too long, so I bias the rest of my decision-making process toward changing pastures. If your tendency is to jump to the next pasture as soon as it gets hard, bias your decision toward staying put.
  • Get real with reality. Pay attention to when you’re feeling especially unhappy. Then ask yourself, “Do I have more to learn about what’s underneath this unhappiness?” In other words, is there still more to learn in this pasture? If so, stay. If not, go. If there’s just a tiny bit left to learn, make changes so you’re only spending a tiny bit of your time in that pasture.
  • Ask friends and family. Honestly I skip this step more than I should. Because it’s so cliché. And sometimes makes the answer less clear than before I asked. But if you’ve got someone in your life who cares about you, wants the best for you (regardless of their own agenda), and will be honest with you even though it’s hard, their outsider’s opinion can be a total gold mine.

These three things might not give you a clear answer, but they will give you a hunch. This hunch is your answer. Follow your hunch.

What to do if you think it really IS greener on the other side

Make a move to change pastures.

Duh.

It doesn’t have to be all at once. Like in the case of my engineering career, I’m still working part time which allows me to spend more time pursuing my true passion of writing. Even just a partial change like that did wonders for my overall happiness.

But whatever you do, don’t choose choice #1.

What to do if you’re pretty sure you should stay

How do you make a brown pasture green again?

Take full responsibility for every problem in your pasture. Full responsibility.

No more blaming other people. Sure, your spouse or your boss or whoever has issues, but you chose to let their issues negatively impact you. Take responsibility for that, because you have control over what you surround yourself with.

Problems that make you hate your pasture transform into to problems that fertilize your pasture when you take full responsibility for them.

The first step to a greener pasture is taking responsibility for your problems. The rest is just modifying the problems you can control, and accepting the problems you can’t.

Don’t forget, if you decide to stay, you decide the problems in this pasture are better than the problems in another pasture. Consciously choosing your problems is so empowering!

Problems that make you hate your pasture transform into to problems that fertilize your pasture when you take full responsibility for them. Click To Tweet

So what did you decide?

Choice 2 or 3? (And get outta here with that Choice 1 BS – you’re better than that.)

Join the discussion by posting your choice in the comments!

A tool for you

Sometimes our decision-making skills are hindered by past emotional blockages. I call these blockages “great sadnesses.” If we don’t properly address our great sadnesses, things like making tough decisions are almost impossible.

I’ve been there.

That’s why I created a free guide to help you identify and heal your very first great sadness. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to make decisions once you address this emotional blockage.

All you’ve got to do is punch in your email below to get it sent straight to your inbox.

How to Identify and Heal Your First Great Sadness

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4 Comments

  1. Took this fun, lucid write seriously and have already benefited from it. I’m wavering between 2 & 3 at the moment. Needs must consult and sleep on it. But just acknowledging that there is something specific I want to change and can change is powerful. I feel you on taking firm responsibility if I choose 2. Leaning towards 3 though. Cheers!

  2. Hey I just read this article. I wrote about decision making on my blog so I was intrigued by the title. Great word on learning what you can before defaulting to a change. I also loved that you wrote to take full responsibility for the choices we make. Loved it. And, I’m choosing #3!! We set out on our adventure in a week. Woo!!

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