It is hard to imagine another person’s suffering. Most people we encounter appear to have some contentment. They tell us about their problems and we know that they will get through it, that somehow they will manage, that their situation is not as bad as it seems to them. It’s easier to imagine somebody else’s happiness. When we see a smile or a laugh or calmness in another, we can imagine that they are living a happy life. When we encounter spiritual teachers, or wise counsellors pointing the way to inner peace and good mental health, we may envy their attainment or understanding. We may feel we lack something that they have. Our own problems feel real and large, our happiness seems fleeting, our spiritual attainment and mental health feels pedestrian in comparison. Others’ grass seems greener because we don’t directly feel their suffering.
If somebody gives an eloquent talk on living with devastating depression, we may even envy them because they are surviving and we admire their courage. We admire their eloquence. That is just us not feeling their suffering. Our own suffering is so great that we may envy somebody bravely coping with their suffering. We can see in them that dignity and strength that we miss in ourselves. It is amazing where we can see greener grass.
The ability to see greener grass in another can lead the way to appreciating our own circumstance. Our longing for inner peace is a big part of realizing inner peace. We are all in the same pasture. It’s all the same grass. Our problems are not as bad as they seem. We are completely capable of living a contented, happy life.