The Grass is Greener Syndrome

Everything in your life could be better, if only got a new job, moved, owned a dog, ate five servings of vegetables a day, gave up alcohol, ate gluten free, and the list goes on…

Since I graduated college in 2004, I’ve moved to a new apartment every year with the exception of two years. When lease renewal time came around, I always felt I could find a better apartment, a better “fit” for me, or a more fulfilling roommate situation. (In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about how great a new, bigger apartment would be, despite having just moved three months ago.) Besides all the money I spent on moving costs, there was the psychological toll of moving. Moving can be traumatic and stressful. Every year, I’d lug all my belongings from one Brooklyn neighborhood to another, until I had exhausted all the neighborhoods and at last, borough-hopped to Queens.

Recently, I realized that maybe this was some pattern and indicative of something deeper. And apparently, there’s even a term for this chronic need to find the next best thing. It’s called “the grass is always greener syndrome” or GIGS for short.

This syndrome, “the grass is greener” dilemma,  is not just limited to moving. It can affect all areas of your life. Ever known a chronic job hopper? Or someone who’s always “falling in love” with someone new? I’m not judging this behavior, and in fact, having a desire to improve your life is natural and evolutionarily adaptive. But it gets self-destructive when it infuses everything else in your life with doubt. How can you enjoy a relationship, friendships, a job when you’ve got a nagging feeling that it could be better?

When I moved to LA a year ago, I had all these grand hopes for changing my life. I imagined I’d be more relaxed, eating avocados, walking on the beach, and writing my screenplays all day long…Uh. Yeah, right. As much as I tried to leave my issues in NYC,  I they joined me in California. I still have trouble motivating myself to write for long stretches of time, I still don’t exercise as much as I should, and more often than not, I opt for Trader Joe’s frozen meals over fresh avocados.

But I guess what I am trying to learn and internalize is that there’s great pleasure to be gained in loving a place, a person, a situation for a long period of time. Finding ways to improve upon something and being at peace with “what is.” (This is new-agey Jane coming out now.)

There’s an Eckhart Tolle quote that really speaks to this:

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” – Eckhart Tolle


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