The Grass is Always Greener
Isn’t it amazing how, overtime, we’re programmed to want? Many, including myself, think that it’s troubling we crave that which we don’t have, but what’s even more alerting is that we think craving or reaching is the right thing to do. We always want the next step up from what we’ve got right now, whatever that is—the next job promotion, next house, next car, next kid, next dog, next football season, next diet. For me, it’s been the next computer, next career goal, next game, next movie, and next pretty much everything (adolescence is ADHD, trust me). It’s tiring, really. In fact, this damn well drives me crazy! It drives us all crazy, but for whatever reason people shrug off the insanity as “human nature” or something like that. We get violent when we try and get the next iPhone when it’s freshly released or when we try and get the next best toy during the Christmas season (which could also be called “the Season of Commercialism”). It’s maddening! Where does it end? Are we ever going to be satisfied?
In this mindset, there’s no way to ever reach satisfaction; you’re always wanting more, new, better, shinier, whatever. You’re always wanting. In Buddhism, this is called thirst. Thirst drives our suffering and perpetuates our painful cycle of samsara. But, if you don’t like religion and all the implications therein, let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? Our dissatisfaction is an internal problem, not external one, and it drives our unhappiness into perpetuity. If you don’t believe me, look around to any Christian, Atheist, Muslim, or Scientologist and you’ll see at least one commonality when it comes to each person’s psychology—they aren’t satisfied with their current lives. They’re all chasing something in the hopes that some thing will beget everlasting peace, prosperity, and happiness. Well allow me to bluntly tell you what I believe is the truth: that myth that you’re chasing doesn’t exist in reality, but only in your mind—there is no award to win, no treasure to find, no ultimate end that can be reached.
Take myself as a prime example. Currently, I’m exhibiting what some doctors might call ‘an accelerated case of ADD or ADHD’ (I don’t care enough to actually make sure that’s a factual statement; it’s for illustrative purposes, really)—I’m writing four different short stories, one of which is as long as ten thousand words; I’m starting to write a new screenplay; I’m writing for this blog every week; I’m guest writing for two other blogs every-other week; I’m working as a telemarket-researcher; I’m a video production intern for the Local Growers Guild here in Bloomington; AND I’m volunteer editing for the local PBS radio station, WFHB. Holy shit. I can’t keep my mind still. I go from one project to the next hoping that one project will score a new, better job in the future so that I may accrue enough money to one day buy a Tesla Model S (sweet car, thank you very much), live in a swanky apartment on the edge of the downtown sector of a groovin’ city, with a dog, with my darling sweetheart under my arm, and a garden in which I would grow fresh vegetables. One may see this and say, “Oh, what a motivated young man!” I say, “I am living far too much in the future.”
Sounds pessimistic, I know, but think about it this way: once you reach that point in life where you (hopefully) will say, “Ah, this is the life,” what happens then? Where do you go from there? Is it really all that different from right Now? I don’t think so. I think that’s why so many people have ‘mid-life crises.’ These are not normal things to go through; it’s not built in our DNA to undergo immense stress, anxiety, and depression once we reach the precise and tender age of 43.284749 (again, I don’t care enough to look up the average middle age number; I’m going for sarcasm here, if you didn’t read it that way already). That’s not how it works. The truth is that we think that point we are trying to reach is real in the first place when it doesn’t even exist at all. The reality is far simpler: we only exist right now. So, do what you want with the time you already have. I’ve written about this before on Simpler Life Today already, so I’ll spare you the same old stuff as before and expand on the simple aspect of overcoming the jealousy of the greener grass beside your mental lawn.
I know you’re tempted to look at that other lawn, so I won’t stop you from looking. Instead, I’d ask that you look and be aware of what you’re thinking and for what you’re hoping. Do you want success? Find it now. Do you want patience? Find it now. Do you want a better partner? As hard as it may be to hear it, find that better partner now. Don’t settle—for anything. There’s no point in doing so. To settle is to either give up on what you truly want right now, or to think that what you have now is a starting point from which you can jump forward into the future. Both are wrong because they ignite the flame of ignorance inside the mind, tricking us into thinking the future and that other lawn of which you’re so jealous is real. The truth is they aren’t, and they never will be. Your plans will never go exactly as you want or imagine because you change—your thoughts and emotions change everyday. In fact, you are the embodiment of change—cells die off and are replaced by new cells just as thoughts do every second, minute, hour, day, week, month, and year. Nothing stays the same.
Once you accept that, you won’t even be looking at that other lawn anymore. You’ll find success right now. You’ll find patience right now. You’ll find that better partner right now. You may even find that the things you saw in the first place as unsuccessful, impatient, or undesirable of a partner are actually just your misperception of these things because of you’re constant craving for something else or ‘better’. Maybe your work is ‘unsuccessful’ simply because of your definition of success—maybe you’re just being too hard on yourself. Or maybe your impatience is just fueled by your thinking of your impatience in the first place. And that partner of yours that you may be having problems with may not actually be the cause of those problems—perhaps it is your thoughts and projections of buried and unhealed emotions that may be the true culprits.
Just as is the lotus, the World is your heart.
If you heal your perception of the world, the world will reciprocate by healing you. There’s nothing to chase but the chase itself, just like there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. That’s where true happiness resides—not tomorrow, nor the next day, but within this moment that is so sacred, so easily missed. My parents are a great example from which we can all learn. They have struggled to put my two brothers and I through college (and then some) all the while my dad has been trying to get a manufacturing company started for the past five years. I have no doubt they are concerned with the future, but they do not live in the future (at least not entirely). They have remained calm for all these years—despite the debts, despite the slow business, despite the usual family drama—because they have, somehow, remained grounded in their lives as they live them, day by day. “Baby steps,” as my mom would say. And it’s true. Why worry about the possible debts one may face in the next year when they don’t exist right now? I’m not saying let’s all lay around and take occasional whiffs of carbon monoxide, existing in a constant dream-like and vegetative state; I’m simply offering a way out of your own mind’s habit to form postulations and expectations of the ‘future’ that has yet to come into the Now. Sure we can predict, with a great amount of accuracy, what may happen down the road, but if all you do is plan, when do you actually do anything with your life? Maybe debt is just a mindset, failure a choice, to just absolve from the Now and all the opportunities to be productive therein and instead become obsessed and paranoid about what may or may not happen a year from now. I could be wrong… But, I don’t think I am.
I’ll leave you with this allegory that actually happened to me the other day. As I was half asleep and mindlessly cold-calling poor, annoyed restaurant managers, I reached a lady who was incredibly nice and willing to participate in my asinine research survey, despite the time it would take out of her work day. What I was in such a sour mood about was how after a great Memorial Day—spent with an even greater sweetheart of mine—I had to sit at this stupid desk to preform stupid interviews with stupid people in order to make a buck, rather than write (or do anything at least remotely relatable to my skills) and make a buck. So, I was pissed, and searched for video editing jobs on both of my fifteen-minute breaks. But, after talking to that overly nice and responsive human being and completing an interview, I smiled to myself and laughed, just a little. I thought about how much of a jerk I must have been up until that point, how I must have made others feel slightly offended without even realizing it all because I was staring—quite intently—at the other lawn next to my burnt-out grass weeds (the ‘other lawn’ being a wonderfully paid writing or editing gig). Rather than simply living in the moment, appreciating at least a few of the nice people with whom I spoke and laughing at all the other brass responses I received throughout my shift, I grew angrier at not having that other life and that other job—it ruined my entire day.
What I’m saying is this: no matter where you’re at—whether it’s sitting on a slate rock beach next to a lake with a beautiful woman lounging beside you, or sitting in a tiny cubicle working on a sadly-outdated PC inside of a Microsoft DOS program (L-O-L)— you’re happiness is all just a matter of your perception. Nothing else. If you truly do what you truly want
that is, live in the moment rather than continually pursue the future—you will find happiness. It’s not easy and takes a lot of practice, but it’s worth breaking your habits you’ve been forming your entire life. Trust me. All it takes it one smile to ease the cramps of a daylong frown.
Paradise is in your mind....