So today I came a across an interesting concept:
The grass is always greener on the other side.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard this phrase before, but today I really had a chance to think about it. The idea is basically a cognitive bias towards the better aspects of others compared to ourselves.
- That person has a better car than me
- That person is in better shape than me
- That person is a better programmer than me
- That person is a happier person than me
- That person has more friends than I do
- That person makes more money than I do
- That person has a better personality than I do
- That person’s lawn is literally greener than mine
So what’s wrong with this line of thinking?
It’s not entirely obvious. After all, a little ambition is good, right? Otherwise, how would we know what to strive for?
Well, that right there, is where I see an opportunity to change my thinking.
There are plenty of other ways to know what to strive for. I don’t have to look outwards to know how I can improve as a:
- A human being on this little planet we call Earth
Here comes the hard part. I first have to admit to myself that I do this. Otherwise, why change it?
This is where self-improvement gets difficult.
You mean I have to admit that I’m not perfect?! Blasphemy!
So it’s not enough to just do away to with negative cycles of thinking. In my experience, it usually helps to have something else to replace the mental space that the previous belief/idea held.
I try to replace this with:
It’s none of my business, what’s on the other side. I gotta focus on mine.
I like this. It feels right. And it forces one to stop looking outwards as measure our growth or improvement. I see myself increasingly look inwards when comparing myself. I start to compare myself to myself, before. My past self. The ‘me’ of last year, or yesterday.
Am I better than I was yesterday?
Am I better than I was last year?
If the answer is yes, then I’m doing alright. On the right track.
Well, but look at your friends that are already having kids and have a house, and have a career and have their shit together…
Good for them! I can be genuinely happy for them.
But… not my business. I’m better than I was yesterday, and that’s the only measure of progress that really counts.
I’ll end with a excerpt from a favorite poem of mine ‘Desiderata’:
Si te comparas con los demás,
te volverás vano y amargado
pues siempre habrá personas más grandes y más pequeñas que tú.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.