Ashley Buenger

by Ashley Buenger


How To Choose What You Have: That Grass Over There Ain’t Any Greener

Most of us have heard the popular adage, “the grass is greener on the other side.” It’s used to describe the idea that something else, something that you don’t have, be it an item or a situation, is better than what you do have. We think that job is better, or living in that house, or owning that lawn mower. If only you could get over to the grass on the other side of the fence, then things would just be peachy.


It’s easy to fall into this pattern of thinking. It’s even easy to do it without realizing it. In fact, throughout my entire college career, I fell into the trap of thinking that once I finished my degree and got that elusive first job, things would be great. When it wasn’t, I ended up moving around from city to city looking for that greener grass in the form of a fulfilling job, a city in which I perfectly fit, or that great vocational role.


At this point, I think I’ve hopped enough fences to realize there ain’t no greener grass. No matter which pasture I found myself in, there was always another pasture to gaze at longingly thinking that was better.


Finally, I’ve accepted this old adage instead: the grass is greenest where you water it.


I’ll admit, that I have not arrived at this, but at least I am trying. On the good days, when I am really practicing watering my own grass, I find joy and contentment in the things that I have, and I feel that sense of fulfillment that I had spent my post-collegiate years searching for. On the rough days, I still look over the fence. I say that so you know that it takes practice and when you find yourself in a slump, don’t stop trying.


Here are a few ways to practice watering your own grass:


1. Practice Gratitude

You can journal all the things that you’re thankful for if you’d like, but I just can’t seem to get into that habit, so no pressure for you. I like to catalog the things I’m grateful for in my head throughout the day. I’m thankful for the house that I live in and the minivan that I drive. Sometimes, I’m even thankful for the Legos scattered all over the playroom since they showcase that I have children, whom I’m also thankful for.


2. Switch Your Focus

When you find yourself gazing over the fence, switch your gaze to what you have instead. Tell yourself that you’re thankful for that thing that you have, and suddenly YOUR thing becomes the shiniest. This takes practice. You’re talking to your neighbor and suddenly he rolls out the newest and greatest iPhone with the updated camera and sleek screen. If only you had that phone, things would be better. Hold on. You have a phone that works great. You like the photos that you have that it’s taken. You are grateful to have the phone that you do. You choose that phone. This may sound oversimplified, but it works on anything from shoes, to houses to cities to live in.


3. Be aware of the media you consume

We’re being sold things all the time. From the moment we flip on the television, search the Internet, or scroll Instagram, we see advertisements and influencers. They make money by telling you that you don’t have what you need. If only you had that mop or that health regimen or if only you had those organizational tools or even that smiling family vacation. If only you were on that side of the fence. Be aware of the messages that you are receiving and how they are influencing your ability to be thankful for what you do have.


4. Just Choose It

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are grateful for our marriages, our children, our coworkers, and our current jobs. Then we need to place our time, energy, and focus there. It’s helpful to put reminders around your house, car, and office for those difficult moments and difficult days. I like to remind myself when I first wake up in the morning. This is the life that I have, this is the life that I choose.


I need to note that it’s clear that sometimes we need to make changes in our lives or in a way, hop the fence, and that’s ok, but making changes can come from a clear place of peace instead of from a frantic feeling of lack. The more we are grateful for the things that we have, the more we find that peace.


I should also note that, as a leader, once you choose what you have, it’s contagious and encouraging to those around you, especially to those that you lead.


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