Greener Grass Syndrome (and Evicting the Green Monster)

A guest post by Kate Taylor

Let me begin with a confession.

My house is messy. It’s beautiful — full of art and love and happiness. But messy.

My husband leaves every pair of shoes he owns under the living room coffee table. My daughter drops her used paint brushes beside the bathroom sink. I forget my coffee cups all over the house.

We try to reform. And we regularly groom our many pets so that hair doesn’t stick to everything. We stay organized for up to a week before – whoosh! – the next tornado hits. Then we’re back where we started.

Now another confession.

I recently visited a friend with a tidy house. Though “tidy” doesn’t do the place justice. It’s a cleverly and mindfully-made home. Like Marie Kondo of “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up,” she keeps only the possessions she loves, and everything she owns has a place. I want a home like that. I want to be like that. Thus, the Green Monster appeared. As my friend and I continued chatting and drinking iced tea, he dragged his scaly, green self into my mind and hissed “She must be OCD” and “She probably freaks out if you leave a teacup unwashed.”

 Yuck. I really hate that guy. I hate the ugly things he whispers, and how negative he “makes” me feel.

His toxic message never varies. No matter how fortunate we may be, he insists that others have it better. He’s the embodiment of the adage “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Aside from a few saints and advanced yogis out there, we all get Green Monster visits. He might stay for seconds or years, but the effect of his presence is always the same: a souring of thought, a vice-like pressure on the heart. Thankfully, there are ways to evict the Green Creep and safeguard against negativity and Greener Grass syndrome. Methods like those I used when he crashed the visit with my tidy friend.

First, I made myself realize that I was hating on someone I love and respect. Someone who could teach me something about clutter-busting! Gently — as gently as you can address someone who’s being a jerk — I made myself see how absurd that was. Next, I forgave myself for those nasty thoughts. Envy, after all, is as human as it is unattractive and unpleasant. To be extra-nice, I gave myself a pep-talk about the (admittedly minor) steps I’d taken to be more Kondo-like, and promised myself to pick up some of my friend’s tidiness. Finally, and most importantly, I remembered how crazy-lucky I am.

I am lucky for the shelter of that home I gripe about. Also, I am lucky to share it with a beautiful and loving husband and daughter. I am lucky to have wonderful friends and family and to have work I love. And that’s just the top of the list.

 If you’re like me and occasionally (or even frequently) are green with envy, keep reading. The following tips will help you shake it off while strengthening your relationships and dramatically boosting your overall happiness.




1. Count Your Blessings.

This is ancient advice but there’s a reason it’s stood the test of time — it works! Focusing on the good things in your life will not only make you feel happier but can positively impact your health as well. Evidence has shown that people who regularly practice gratitude have better sleep, less depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure and stronger self-esteem. Start counting your blessings and see how many things you have to be truly thankful for.  


2. Keep a Gratitude Journal.

This popular tool was introduced in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s bestselling book, ‘Simple Abundance’. It’s simple enough — at day’s end take a few minutes and write down five things that you’re grateful for that day. Some days will be easier than others, but try to find five things that you can list each day. Start your Gratitude Journal and you’ll find yourself focusing more on the positive things in your life, which will boost your happiness and contentment.


3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others.

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. We can always find someone whose life looks better than ours, and in the age of Instagram it’s easier than ever. The problem is, we tend to compare the worst of ourselves with the best of others. (And remember – those snapshots of life you see on social media are not the full picture. No one is posting their insecurities and imperfections!) When those negative feelings come up, shift your focus to your own achievements and what is good in your life. Turn the spotlight on you and let yourself shine! 


4. Practice Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on being fully present and aware of what is going on in your mind and body in the moment. It calms the mind and leads to greater happiness while reducing stress and worry. It doesn’t need to be complicated — just a few minutes of simply focusing on your breathing and observing your thoughts will help you to slow down and stay focused, which will leave you feeling calmer and more content. 


5. Give Back.

Giving to others is not just a good thing to do, it’s also good for you. Generosity has many benefits for both physical and emotional well-being; people who regularly volunteer tend to have less depression and stress and better overall health habits. Helping others gives you a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction, and volunteering can improve your social network as well. So find a way to give back — your money, your time and talents, your support. You’ll be making the world a better place and making yourself happier as well.


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