The grass is greener on the other side

Ahmed Helal | Update:

Photo: Prothom AloEverything was going smoothly in Delwar’s life. He had a wife, a child, a good job at a multinational company, a nice apartment and even a car from office. Everything was pretty perfect. But then he decided he wanted to do even better and made some business investments at his friends’ advice. That too went well, and he made a good profit in six months. Inspired, he invested all his savings and even took advance payment on his salary. But this time he wasn’t so lucky. He incurred a huge loss and all his friends who had been involved, simply abandoned him.

Delwar had the burden of repaying the bank loans himself and was soon penniless. Down and depressed, he withdrew himself from everything and his family suffered.

Sania’s problem was a little different. She was happily married to a businessman for six years and they had a four-year-old child. Then one day she met a man on the social media. It started off with innocent chatting, but one thing led to another and they were soon involved in an affair. Inevitably, Sania’s husband found and their marriage ended in divorce. Sania was devastated and started taking sleeping pills. She overdosed several times and had to be rushed to hospital.

Delwar and Sania are just a few of so many people who find themselves lost and lonely despite all elements of a happy life. In their search of more happiness and diversity they take all sorts of risks. They end up with losing all the happiness they had before.

There are several reasons behind their predicament. Proximity with people who have negative attitudes can hamper happiness. They magnify the deficiencies in life, rather than the gifts. Their negative approach will make you feel incomplete and to look for more in life, at the cost of what you already have.

Sometimes, some people compare their lives to the idyllic lives projected in the media, in advertisements. The social media is replete with smiling faces and success stories. A moderately happy person may think that others are so much happier. But the happy face on social media may actually be hiding a thousand failures. A futile search to attain the projected qualities makes them really unhappy eventually.

The type A personality, as described in psychology, is hardly satisfied and highly ambitious. This type of person withdraws and becomes lonely over a trivial issue, he fails to see his achievements in life, he suffers from identity crisis, and fails to fix his goals.

So when one fails to recognise the worth of what one has, they venture out into risky waters, seeking excitement over happiness and end up with nothing.

Unrealistic ambitions can often lead to nothing. It’s like the weaver who sold his loom to buy a cow. When he found the cow was actually a bull and couldn’t provide milk, he tried ploughing the land with it. But he wasn’t cut out for farming and lost everything.

If a person has all the elements in life needed for happiness, but has no control over his emotions, times and assets-he ends up unhappy. He has an emotional breakdown and wastes whatever wealth he may have.

Do not destroy your happiness by whimsical decisions and risks. Believe in yourself and have confidence in your happiness.


1.            Keep your goals fixed. Do not vacillate too often.

2.            Spend quality time with your family. Also, keep some ‘me’ time for yourself.

3.            Try being not influenced by negative people around you.

4.            Before you invest effort and money in a new project, first have a sound idea about it.

5.            Never compare your happiness with anyone else’s. You do not know about the true picture of anyone else’s life.

6.            Try to spend times in company of positive, happy people rather than being alone.

7.            Try finding the qualities you posses and strengthen them.

8.            Introspection is good, but not self-reproach. Raise your head high--honesty and morality are essential elements for a happy life.

9.            Look to the future and stop wasting time brooding too much over the past. Enjoy the present and dream about the future.

10.          It is important to realise that failure and success are both a part of life.

11.          Avoid whimsical behaviour-be it suddenly getting into a relationship or addiction or gambling.

12.          Love children-be they your own or not-it will make you happy.

Ahmed Helal: Associate Professor, Psychology, Dept. of Child Adolescent & Family Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health, Dhaka.

*This article, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.

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