We’ve all heard the cliché ‘The grass is always greener in our neighbor’s yard’. What they don’t tell you is that his grass still has to be mowed, watered, weeded, raked and fertilized.
The Buddha was the first to recognize that emotional pain can be just as real and debilitating as physical pain. Through careful observation he determined that people were good at spending time on their physical hygiene, but spent little or no time on mental hygiene. He believed that the key to finding happiness was in relieving one’s emotional suffering and that the best way to reduce this suffering was by controlling our emotions.
Just as a good mother watches where her children go, the wise man watches where his mind goes. One of the harmful emotions that the Buddha taught we need to watch is envy.
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Envy is time spent wanting what our neighbor has instead of time spent enjoying what we have. Now it’s true that when used properly envy can be a terrific motivator. The problem is that real envy — always wanting more and then discovering that more still isn’t enough — is difficult to control.
The Buddha taught that the way to achieve happiness begins with turning negative thoughts in to positive ones. The successful landscaper knows that for his lawn to thrive it needs to be weeded and fertilized. The person seeking happiness can begin by following his example and weeding out any negative thoughts and then planting positive ones.
Many people believe that happiness is just a winning lottery ticket away, but true happiness is not based on how much we have, but on how little we need. Happiness is accepting, appreciating and enjoying what the world has to offer. True happiness can only be achieved if we spend more time weeding out envious thoughts rather than in trying to match or better our neighbor’s lawn.
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Just because an elephant is the biggest doesn’t mean he’s also the best animal in the jungle.
Sometimes it is as simple as taking the time to look back at how far you’ve come instead of always looking ahead to where you want to be. When was the last time you took a moment to pat yourself on the back for the things you have accomplished?
Besides, maybe your neighbor works harder at his yard than you do, or maybe he’s just luckier. Is matching or bettering your neighbor’s accomplishments really that important? We all get to choose how we spend our time.
Stop looking at your neighbor’s yard and start enjoying your own, that’s what it’s there for. Weed out the envy and you’ll find your whole outlook improving. Happy gardening.