Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Grass is Greener on the other side - more profound than it seems

One SAT question from many years ago sticks in my head. In the question, we were asked to rank common sayings and proverbs by how profound they were. I can't remember most of them, but I do remember the one I ranked least profound - it was, "A stitch in time saves nine".

A saying I've been thinking about recently is "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". I think this one is more profound than it seems. Sometimes it's used to refer to jealousy of other people possessions, but it's also used to refer to the idea that something else is always the answer. For instance, if you're in high school, you think that once you graduate everything will be great. Or when you're working, that a vacation will make you happy. 

I'm not a fan of staying in situations that cause misery, and I'm also a big believer in change, trying new things, and challenging yourself. But one thing I've also learned is that even situations that seem great can lose their luster. For instance, I worked at Haleakala National Park on Maui one summer many years ago. A big part of my job was to walk traplines for invasive species. 

So there I was, hiking on this beautiful mountain on a beautiful island, usually with some stunning views. Occasionally there were yummy ohelo berries to pick, which are very similar to blueberries.

At times it was great. But over the course of a few months, it got old, and the annoyances that were minor at the beginning (living on a small island, everything being very expensive) began to grow.

Later I traveled for many months in New Zealand. It was challenging, interesting, and beautiful, but after 4 months the constant travel started wearing on me, and I yearned for a regular job and an apartment.

Both of the experiences - the work in Hawaii, and the travel in New Zealand - were ones that I wouldn't trade for anything. And maybe this is more a personality trait rather than human nature, but for me, I'm always looking out for the next thing. There's always something out there that I want to do or try. I won't be happy if there's not something on the horizon to look forward to, even when that "something" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

To conclude, here's a quote from the book The Depths - the Evolutionary Origin of the Depression Epidemic:
Happiness itself is not a goal - it is the fleeting by-product of progress towards other goals. 


Blogger Unknown said...

I wholehearted agree with your conclusion. Happiness is a journey and not a destination

5:13 PM  

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