As the saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Lately I’ve been trying to understand this aphorism. What does it really mean?
We use it as a cautionary tale.
“It might look like they have it better than you, but it’s not all roses.” There’s always an unseen struggle, a downside that you can’t see because you’re blinded by the green grass of the upside.
We use it to tell people to accept their lot in life.
“There will always be someone who is better off than you.” No matter how much success you find, you’ll always find someone to be envious of. So face facts and realize that this is as good as it gets for you. Find ways to be happy with what you have. You’ll always find one more thing to want, so why bother?
We use it to feel better when we don’t succeed.
“Oh well, it’s probably not as good as it looks.” We think this as we walk off the court, having not made the game-winning shot. When we see something we want, but aren’t willing to actually do the work.
We use it all wrong.
No matter which interpretation, the underlying assumption is that the “people on the other side of the fence” stumbled upon a better field than you did. As you look longingly at their green pastures, you think that you could wander over and make them yours.
There is only one correct interpretation:
If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you have lawn work to do.
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