Life is like a line of dominoes. Our cravings for a better life are never satisfied as we lunge forward in the endless pursuit of dreams, goals and achievements. The age-old saying “the grass is greener on the other side” paints an accurate picture of the insatiable hunger for success, which is an innate trait of being human, showing that we are never content with our current situation and cannot stop longing for more. The nature of comparison then arises as we constantly think that the achievements of others outshine our own, therefore setting out on an irreversible voyage of trying to achieve better and more. We become obsessed with our never ending pursuit of attaining a state of life different from our current one that we forget to stop and think. We forget that perhaps, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
To yearn is to be human. We perceive others’ lives to be better than our own because we never stop longing for something we do not yet own, hence thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. After scoring a merit, we aim for a distinction; despite a good railway system, we pressurise the government for more train tracks; having lived in a tropical country, we long to spend our retirement in a country with the four seasons. Gaining what we lack is addictive and it is not easy trying to curb this addiction. We are always in search of something different, which we believe benefits us more. This is aptly portrayed in the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community of Brunei, where same-sex relations are punishable by death, may yearn to live in countries like Spain and Canada, where homosexual couples have the legal rights to marriage. Hence, the never-ending quest for the perfect life is what compels us to perceive that our lives are lacking, compared to those of others around us.
Not only do we desire the lives of others, but being human means also to long for the circumstances of our past and future selves. We regret and we crave. Despite the frequent reminders of motivational articles and speeches to “live in the moment”, we are bound by the elemental human nature to yearn to turn back time to the good old days, or to fast forward time until when we have the rights to do what we wish. This is best depicted by teenagers who struggle with mountainous piles of work and responsibilities while wishing to return to being toddlers without a care in the world. At the same time, teens, infiltrated by the rebellious stage of puberty, may crave to break free of the seemingly suffocating restraints of helicopter parents, achieving the freedom to make their own decisions. We are rarely content with our current state of life, regretting past memories and looking forward to future fantasies. Hence, we subconsciously believe that the grass is greener on the other side.
Although perfectionists may beg to differ, all experiences, whether uplifting or upsetting, are part and parcel of life. Each experience fits perfectly into our life story, like an extensive jigsaw puzzle. Hence, instead of focussing on what is to be achieved, it is important to reflect on our present circumstances and be grateful for all that we have. Our successes may not be as glorious as we hoped, our achievements not as prominent, but the very fact that we have accomplished thus far in life is something absolutely worth celebrating. We often do not realise, but what we take for granted may be someone else’s desired treasure. Simple things like having a roof above our heads, the ability for speech and motion and the dear company of people around us are things to be cherished and treasured. Just like the Jamaican songwriter, Bob Marley, once wrote, “Love the life you live and live the life you love”, so we should sow the seeds of gratitude in our daily undertakings, acknowledging that there will always be successes beyond ourselves and yet never swaying from being proud and appreciative of what we already have.
Along the same street, the man driving wishes he owned a private jet while the boy on a bicycle wishes he could afford a car; the poor beggar walking yearns for the boy’s bike, while the diabetic patient with amputated legs in a wheelchair wishes he could walk again. Such is the circle of life, in which being human means to strive for something more, something better, something different. In our unceasing pursuit of further material comforts, we should never lose sight of how valuable our current life is to us, and to the people around us. After all, everyone carries a different definition of living life to the fullest. That said, perhaps the grass never was greener on the other side.
To read more articles from Jeslyn Chng click here