If you’ve been studying English – and of course you have been – then you’ll know that English is filled with idioms. I love idioms, but I know that they can sometimes be quite difficult to understand.
However, my favourite saying is an idiom, and it is…
The grass is always greener on the other side.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
What does this mean?
Well, imagine you were looking over the fence of your backyard, and looking at your neighbour’s backyard.
When you look at your grass you see a lot of imperfections. Your own grass is close to your eyes, so you can see all of its details, so you realize that not all of the grass is green.
You may notice that there’s lots of dirt & weeds with your grass.
But the only reason you’re able to notice these details is that you’re so close to your grass.
You can’t actually zoom in on your neighbour’s lawn, because of the fence. You can only view your neighbour’s grass from far away. You can’t see the details of their grass. So, your neighbour’s lawn looks perfectly green.
This is talking about life and jealousy & envy.
When we see someone else’s life without knowing all of the details, we often think that their life is better than ours.
Consider reading this article about Instagram, called ‘The Grass is Greener When You Use an Instagram Filter‘.
Here’s another example. Let’s pretend you wanted to move from Japan to Germany.
You may think that Germany is a country without problems, and without hardships.
You may think that if only you lived there, everything would be perfect.
It’s easier to think such things from where you are, because Germany is so far away. You can’t see the details of actually living there day-to-day.
But, you usually cannot go to your neighbour’s yard. The only place you can go is your yard.
As a result, you think everybody else has better grass than you. Interesting, right? 🙂
A variation on this expression that has become popular and is said by business entrepreneurs, and perhaps in a TED Talk, is…
The grass is greener where you water it.
The meaning is something like this:
Just focus on making your grass the greenest that it can be.
You can make your own grass greener by putting a lot of care and effort into it.
I don’t love this expression, because I don’t think it’s realistic.
Why do I say this? Well, I think part of life is having good things and bad things.
Life will always include setbacks, struggles and challenges.
If we try to get rid of ALL of our problems simply by trying harder, this creates a lot of pressure on ourselves.
I think having this philosophy will lead to unhappiness and disappointment, because we’ll realize that it’s impossible to have such a perfect life.
So, “The grass is always greener where you water it”?
Not my favourite.
But, “The grass is always greener on the other side”?
I love it!!