I wonder how many people think to themselves, “Am I on the right path, true to myself ?” And if so, how many times a day do they wonder? 

I’ve just returned from a family vacation. My ex and I took our two sons to DisneyWorld and had a great time! I’m happy we could do that for them, and it’s all because we reconciled, rejoined households, and I took a job in an industry I never thought I’d work in. This has put us in a much better financial position, but I find myself once again wondering about both decisions: to reconcile and take the job. Fuck!

How did I end up being such an uncertain, waffling woman who can’t make up her mind about what or who she wants to stick with?

This wasn’t me when I was younger; I was much more full of single-minded values and commitment to what I believed was right.

And now?

I don’t know if I’m with the right person or if I took the right job. And yet, now I live in a pretty house again, have money to take my kids on trips and a job that gives me the stability and income I need. I enjoy the investment industry I work in now, to some extent; but I don’t enjoy the micro-management, taking constant phone calls, or my corporate douche bag manager. And bottom line, I’m not writing enough… so, I’m selling myself and the world short.

Still, I know life is full of compromise. It’s packed full of squeezing lemons into lemonade, making the most out of Plan B, and not giving up.

As a young pre-teen, I attended a weekly Girl’s Auxiliary class (a Christian version of Girl Scouts/Etiquette hybrid course) at the church my family went to, and I remember painting a plaque in that class that has, evidently, stuck with me. It’s quite popular, but who knew the message would be something I’d write about years later? It said:

If you ask me, that’s pretty much life in a nutshell. What to keep, what to leave behind.

But it’s one thing to have it sculpted into a plaque; quite another to make the right call on a day-to-day basis. 

And to answer my question earlier, about how I became this uncertain person—I believe it’s from having grown up with moral religious codes I was forced to take on, without truly believing the codes worked for me. So, now I’m spending my adult years shaking off the unauthentic bits, leaving a messy trail of discarded beliefs that sometimes trip me up.

And then, throw in my contemplative, artistic personality, rather than one that thrives on facts and numbers, and we’ve got the makings for a scene ripe with dissatisfaction and longing for greener grass.

Maybe the plaque is just another way of saying, “Help me discern when the grass really is greener on the other side and when it isn’t,” especially for dreamer personalities like mine. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, life is full of pros and cons. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to acquire all positives and lose all negatives in any given situation.

Move to a warmer climate, you may also deal with humidity & hurricanes. Leave one job with a horrible boss, you may receive less vacation time at the next gig. Break up with one partner, who is overly sarcastic but generous with money, to find out your next lover withholds emotionally and is less able to splurge on a much-needed vacation… you get the gist.

So how do we know when the grass is really greener? I dare say we create a list of pros and cons before moving forward, but many times the truth of it is, we don’t know the up and downsides until we are smack dab in the middle of the situation, experiencing it. And that’s where resilience comes into play… or learning how to turn lemons into lemonade. 

This article is a gem. If you’ve ever wondered about the “Grass is Greener Syndrome” like I have, you will want to read what this author has to say. He explores our tendency to not be content with what we have.

I love it when human behavior is explained as part of our evolutionary process. And this author does just that. He writes, “Ancestral humans lived in small groups and competed for scarce resources. If the resources are scarce and you want to survive, you need to have a psychological mechanism to motivate you to seek more and more.

At the same time, you need to have a tendency to grow dissatisfied with what you have.

These psychological mechanisms worked together to motivate early humans to seek more resources than they had. If resources were scarce and completion for them was tough, a psychology that allowed them to be content with what they had would’ve endangered their survival.”

I wonder to what extent socio-economic factors weigh into this, too. I didn’t grow up with wealth, and I wonder if wealth affects one’s ability to feel contentment as an adult.

The author goes on to say the goal of living organisms is to pass on their genes to the succeeding generations, and, as life expectancies increase, more resources are left for our children and grandchildren, increasing odds to survive and reproduce. He explains this is another reason why people seek to accumulate more resources.

The article explains we compare ourselves with our peers, generally, rather than a celebrity, etc., but if you become a celebrity, then you compare yourself with other celebrities. Our ancestors lived in smaller groups, but now we are exposed to far greater amounts of people who we can compare our resources with, so this can lead to an increased tendency to be dissatisfied. An interesting point the author makes is, “It’s even present in siblings as they have to compete with each other for their parents’ resources.”

One thing this article doesn’t cover is how much our upbringing plays into our self esteem as adults. If we’re praised and encouraged continously as a child, does that increase our chances of believing we have within ourselves to acquire the things we think will make us happy? Or if we’re treated poorly by a parent, do we have more of a tendency to feel inferior to others in regards to getting the things we think will bring us happiness?

I’d say how we’re parented does influence a feeling of self-sufficiency or inferiority, until we realize, no matter our background, we each have something unique to offer the world. No one is the same.

“Being grateful isn’t something that comes easily to people which is why wisdom traditions repeatedly teach people to be grateful,” the author writes. “So, if these traditions teach people gratefulness, then people have a tendency to be ungrateful. If these traditions teach people not to covet their neighbours’ resources, then people have a tendency to covet their neighbours’ resources.”

The thing is:

Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side! Which brings back the quote on the plaque I painted as a young girl… determining when making a change truly improves your life is key here.

The author writes, “… It’s not always a good thing to be content with what you have. If you believe you can achieve more, and that doing so can bring you lasting happiness, you should go for it. If your present conditions are unsatisfactory, you should seek to improve them.”

The author then explains we have limited energy and that going stubbornly after one thing might cause you to ignore the other things you already have.

“It’s up to you to decide what you want,” he writes. “Only you can decide to what degree you need to be ambitious and where you need to draw the line. The challenge is to determine whether your cravings are reasonable or whether you’re simply falling prey to your psychological tendencies- tendencies that ultimately only harm your well-being.”

Oh, is that ALL? That easy, is it! No wonder my former love and I thought we had something greener, just to end up flat on our faces… with our evolutionary tendencies and different backgrounds, bringing true improvement into our lives is not always that easy!

But no self-judgment! Let’s just learn our lessons, dust ourselves off, and keep going!

to read the article in its entirety, click here…

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