Is the grass really greener on the other side?

During the summer months, I like to peep out of my bathroom window when I’m showering and enjoy the view of my back garden (please don’t worry, the window is walled up ’til head height for me. Promise I’m not flashing at anybody). From this height, I can often see the gardens of my neighbours (4 other gardens in total). Sometimes I can’t help but compare gardens. Ours is the most lush, most vibrant, most fruitful and undeniably the most green garden that I see. 

Earlier this month, I became rather irritated with the behaviour of relatives that I love dearly. They just didn’t seem to be happy with things being perceived as ‘normal’. Instead, things had to appear ‘rich’, or ‘luxury’, or portray ‘status’. I have some major thoughts about that. 

What things appear like to one person may be perceived very differently to someone else

Let’s take the example of apparel. There is a multitude of fake designer label schtuff out there. Now, I’m not one for designer labels anyway – I’d rather buy something for the sake of quality. If it happens to be designer, then so be it. Either way, I wouldn’t care. However, it strikes me as superficial if there is a clear attempt to give others the impression of class or status when that is not the truth or reality of the matter. This kind of behaviour is very much rooted in vanity, which is a spiritual daughter of pride. Whilst the wearer may believe they’re giving an impression of status, others may just be oppositely impressed by their illegitimacy and inauthenticity. 

A sense of unfulfillment stemming from ingratitude could lead a person to paralysis or misconduct

There are many reasons why a person might feel dissatisfied with life, and indeed, there are some things that we all have a right to be dissatisfied about. When someone’s dignity or rightful use of free will is being breached (for example, in the form of racism or abuse, or destitution of any kind), then this is absolutely a reason to be dissatisfied, and more! However, for the majority of us who live in the first world we have very little to be ungrateful about. 

The spirit of ingratitude traps people into a sense of unfulfillment – particularly if one places their self-worth on what they have/possess or what status they’ve achieved, rather than recognising their inherent worth by virtue of their human dignity. There are 3 ways we can react to this spirit of ingratitude: 1) we can be numbed by it; 2) we can be controlled by it; 3) we can change ourselves and live more in a spirit of gratitude. Let’s look at reactions 1 and 2…

One might eventually find themselves in a state of paralysis or self-loathing when one is feeling unfulfilled in life and if a number of these words present as true: demotivated, bored, dull, confused, stuck, indifferent/ apathetic, distressful, imbalanced, and/or directionless. On the other hand, one might eventually find themselves acting out of misconduct if any of these words present as true: jealousy, envy, anger, injustice, unruliness, greed, pressure, impulsiveness, intemperance, competition and/or licentiousness. Why might that be? The answer is simple yet difficult to embrace. We can be willing to lose control of ourselves in order to possess what we don’t have – and the problem with this is that when we surrender self-control, we hand power over to the object that we are desiring. Suddenly, that object has control over us, and we become a prisoner or a slave of that object. Actions done or made out-of-control all because of ingratitude often have negative outcomes and consequences as we lose ourselves in the process of it all.

The healthiest way to move forward when in a spirit of ingratitude, is to come back to yourself, revisit your core values and re-look at your options for moving forward. That’s where coaching helps tremendously. A conclusion that is most often reached is that we need to change ourselves: our way of thinking and our way of behaving. 

I’m not at all saying that people shouldn’t have aspirations or high standards. No. What I’m saying is that our aspirations should help serve our purpose in life; for it is living out our purpose that will bring us greatest happiness and there isn’t anything that we can be more grateful for than that. Our life is a gift to us and we have the choice to give of ourselves as gift to others around us. The sooner we accept that, the more gratefully we will live our lives. This requires the active practice of the virtue of humility. On the subject of standards, standards are important. But standards need to remain in context and realistic. 

Aspirations are a good thing. Foolishness is not.

Dishonesty makes one untrustworthy very fast. Once that trust is lost, the experience of ‘you’ in someone else’s mind is no longer credible. For people who live according to the core value of ‘truth’, being around people who tend to live any sort of lie becomes uncomfortable and potentially unpleasant. Particularly in the coaching industry, it is very important to identify authentically confident coaches, with confidently dishonest ones! Recently, I’ve been learning a lot from the FI (Financial Independence) community. I’ve met people whose net worth are millions, who still drive Fiat Cinquecentos and Toyota Aygos, even beyond reaching FI!! This goes to show that the ‘fake it until you make it’ lifestyle doesn’t quite rub off well on people who know the value of value; for these guys would say that if one of the most important things (values) in your life is classic cars (as opposed to the sense of status or prestige that a car brings), then spend your money on a car that would make you happy (because it’s essentially an investment in your happiness). Otherwise, 4 wheels, a gear box and a steering wheel with a roof and somewhere to sit is pretty much all you need. It could be worth gently broaching the subject with a person who you care for and love, about how much he or she might be fooling him/herself if unreasonably living beyond their means or living the aspiration of that lifestyle without it being the reality. For their wellbeing ultimately, that kind of conversation might lessen perception-based burdens so that they are further able to live more genuinely as themselves. It can also prevent wrongful behaviour toward them by others, since why would another person not be permitted to be disingenuous to a person who is so actively being disingenuous to him/herself? Would it not be better and even easier to simply change our perceptions, open our eyes and live in a spirit of gratitude?

Conclusion & take-away points

To conclude, what’s interesting about the view over my back garden is that only my neighbour to the right can actually see into our garden. And I do wonder whether the owner thinks the grass is greener over on our side. But the point is, he’d only really notice it if he actually cared, or if he wasn’t happy with his own turf. The other 3 neighbours’ gardens run adjacently along the length of our garden, and those houses are bungalows. So they have no idea what our garden looks like unless they used a ladder to purposely look into our garden! They’re all none-the-wiser!

So here’s 3 summary points that I would like to put across to you about the grass being greener on the other side and invite you to apply this analogy to whatever is in your life that needs some reconciliation: 

  1. Grass is only greener on the other side if we’re not grateful for our own patches in the first place. Living in a spirit of gratitude and acceptance is extremely liberating, and I highly encourage it!
  2. Grass is happiest with lots of water and good soil. The same principle is true for every aspect of your life. You can be happier if you are giving yourself what you really need. This is of course more objective than subjective. I promise you that if you think what you need is to eat a cake a day, then you’re not giving yourself what you really need! Make sure your hearts and minds are full of good soil and receive lots of water (for me, that vital element is prayer).
  3. You’ll be happy when you don’t compare your patch to your neighbours’, or pretend that you have a garden that is beyond your capability or capacity at the time! It’s important to aspire toward something whilst living your present moment and circumstances. You might not have the time nor the money to make your garden the best. But you really can be super happy with what you do have (even if you don’t have a garden), because it’s almost 100% guaranteed that whatever patch you do have would be someone else’s dream patch. Enjoying and making something of the patch you have is the best way of being grateful for it.

Question for you: what’s your little ‘patch’ that you keep comparing to others or feel that you’ve shown ingratitude toward? 

ToC Tips for Sleep Wellness


When we look up at the world, it’s not difficult to see how and why sleep wellness is reputed to be at its lowest point in terms of human priorities in all of modern history. We tend to try and find so many solutions to our physical, emotional, social, spiritual and psychological ailments during our waking day, when actually, the best solutions and remedies to these ailments occur naturally at night, when we sleep.

We need to wake up to the following facts:

  • Tiredness and fatigue are the primary cause of one in five (21%) GP consultations in the UK.[1]
  • The NHS in England is spending almost £50 million each year to ensure the nation gets a good night’s sleep and insomnia is a significant problem which now affects more than one in three adults.[2] 
  • Sleep deprivation in the UK workforce costed the economy £40.2 billion in loss of productivity in 2016 and it is estimated this will steadily rise to £47 billion by 2030.[3]
  • Workers who sleep less than six hours per day report on average about a 2.4 percentage point higher productivity loss due to absenteeism or presenteeism than workers sleeping between seven to nine hours per day.[4]

With all the things we would like to fit into our day, a really good starting point ought to be our sleep – since the quantity and the quality of it greatly influences our daily activity, energy levels and productivity, which in turn affects our daily achievements.

There is a multitude of techniques, methods, hints and tips on sleep wellness online. But here are my top tips for sleep wellness (learned from experience!).

Sleep Environment

Your Bed: Your mattress, your pillow, your bedding, it has to be right for you! It is really important to invest a good amount of your attention and time to getting the right bed and sleeping environment for yourself. Yes, it’s easier to buy beds and mattresses online, but how do you know it’s the right firmness for you and that you will be comfortable recuperating in it every day for the next 8-12 years? During this Covid-19 period, where we are seeing many shops closing down, one of the types of shops that I’m really praying doesn’t close down are bed stores – for the simple reason, that is very difficult for people to buy the right mattress and bed for them unless they’ve tried it out.

Bedding: We can be more flexible with bedding, but I’d say the main thing to consider the material that you choose. Cotton is a natural fabric. It is breathable, wicks moisture and stays comfortably cool against skin. Polyester, on the other hand, is a synthetic fabric and does not absorb water the way cotton does. It will trap moisture and heat in hot environments, which can make for sweaty and uncomfortable nights.

Room temperature: Another critical element to a good night’s sleep. In the summer we all know how difficult it can be to sleep well. If you don’t have an air conditioner in your bedroom, then we can learn about room-cooling techniques from the Mediterraneans. Provided you do not use the bedroom for any kind of daytime work, close the curtains and blinds during the day, as well as all the windows and any doors. In the evening, as it starts to get cooler, open curtains/blinds and windows wide to let air in to cool the room.

Light & Sound: Invest in real sturdy black-out curtains. If you’re choosing windows, opt for windows that not just look great, but block sound efficiently. Sometimes blocking out light and sound needs to become a priority, and extra measures need to be taken. My next door neighbour has the most enormous dog with arguably the most enormous bark, and if there’s a fox that sets him off at 02:30 in the morning, it instantly wakes me up. And I don’t mean snoozy kinda woken up. I mean really awake. So I know that if the dog hasn’t been taken to Richmond Park for a good workout that day, I know I have to stick earplugs in the ears. So… aids such as earplugs and blackout night masks can be most helpful sometimes. Note: Make it non-negotiable to pack these two things in your travel kit!!

It took me a month to find the perfect bed, mattress and pillow for me. That’s partly down to the fact that shops such as Dreams and Bensons for Beds exist! Thank you Dreams! And the other part is the fact that I did not want to regret my decision of beds further down the line. #JustSaying


Cut down on caffeinated drinks (note: green tea has caffeine in it). If possible eliminate caffeine from your diet except for treat days and special occasions.

Don’t eat 2 hours before going to bed, with the optional exception of an organic camomile (infusion is better than supplement) only – or organic ginseng infusion around 60 mins before bedtime. Another thing that can be considered in your diet is an organic magnolia bark supplement, which affects your HPA nervous system and has been known to regulate cortisol spikes during sleep – please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication.

De-Stimulation Techniques

Don’t look at a screen of any kind (including tv) at least 30 mins before bed to reduce visual stimuli. A Lumie clock is great for gradual de-stimulation of your optic nerves through the technique of light reduction. Another light-reducing technique is to focus on the flame of a single candle 5 minutes before you sleep without any other lights on, inhaling and exhaling in deeply and slowly. These techniques will help you fall asleep easier.

Rest-Inducing Techniques

Build into your routine (aim for fall-asleep time to be between 21:30-22:30) a relaxation ritual. Something like a self-massage (on feet, hands, neck, shoulders, arms & legs) or a 30 min hot bath will do wonders. You could soak unscented bath salts in some of the suggested essential oils in point 6 to increase the relaxing effects of bathing, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.

If you’re not into massage, perhaps just the thought of spreading a lotion might be a better option. There are lotions that can be spread on your skin to aid a good night’s sleep. I have two different brand lotions. One contains magnesium, lavender and camomile, and the other contains magnesium and melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in your body to encourage sleep and controls your sleep cycle. If you do this, just enjoy the process – make an effort to go slow with the lotion spreading, avoid rushing and be tender and caring to yourself and your skin. Put some love into it, and just that in itself will help you to relax.

Consistent Routines

To be frank, all the above and below suggestions can be built into a consistent routine. But there is one routine that requires extra special attention: that of your wake up time. Try to wake up every morning at the same time. I know the thought of weekend lie-ins seems absolutely glorious, but the effect of a lie-in on your circadian rhythm can be brutal as you head into the weekdays. Take a nap during the day if you need to try to make up for some sleep deficit, but try to stick to the same wake up time. Irregularity in this will affect your hormone balance, which in turn effects your immunity and your metabolism. Homeostasis is greatly disturbed when sleep regularity is disturbed, which is why quality of sleep is as important as quantity of sleep.

Important: Often, people who are trying to make health-related changes in their lives give up far too soon or too quickly. Don’t do this! Don’t just give up after one week and think that you’re not getting the results you’ve been hoping for. Likewise, 4 weeks is not long enough for your body to have made its changes for long-term effects, even if you have been super consistent and faithful to the plan. I would highly recommend that you give yourself 12 weeks (that’s just 3 months and only a quarter of the year) to give your body a chance to adapt to internal changes, thus seeing results. 12 weeks is applicable for any health-related changes and works as much for sleep as it does for body recomposition (let’s just cross-reference that to weight loss for this purpose), or smoking cessation, or healthy eating habits, or gut re-balance… or anything health, really!

Physical Exertion

Aim to ‘spend’ built-up energy caused by stress on a physically demanding activity at some point during the day. Human stress response is most naturally impacted by the secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine (although other hormones also impact stress responses) into the blood stream – and these can be regulated by exercise. Even something as simple as a 10 min hard plié workout (and example of a load-bearing, strengthening exercise) or a HIIT workout (which promotes supramaximal expenditure of energy /or anaerobic exercise) will help you re-balance, and work toward physiological homeostasis.

Natural Therapies & Remedies


Aromatherapy solutions work wonders! I recommend an ultrasonic diffuser or nebuliser to release the oil fragrances for up to 4 hours into your sleep without burning the properties out. If you don’t use equipment, you could blend with carrier oils and massage the mixed oil onto your skin (use only therapeutic grade essential oils for this), or dab the oils onto a tissue that you have close to your nose when you are sleeping.

Calmative Oils (C): Calms and sedates the nervous system, mind, and reduces anxiety

Soporific Oils (S): Induces sleep

Hormonal balancing Oils (H): Motivates the endocrine system or balances hormone levels.

OILS: Valerian (S/C), Lavender (all), Sweet Orange (C), Petitgrain (C), Mandarin (C), Sandalwood (C), Clary Sage (C/H), Chamomile Roman (C/H), Neroli (C), Sweet Marjoram (So), Maracuja (C – not an essential oil, but a great sedating carrier oil for massage).

Important: Please seek professional advice from an aromatherapist if you are on medication, are pregnant, have sun sensitivity or have serious underlying issues as the effects of essential oils have an impact on the effectiveness of medication and pregnancy.

Herb remedies

Two very popular natural remedies in South Asian medicine for aiding sleep are ashwagandha extract and tulsi. They’re known to reduce stress & anxiety, buffer anti-oxidation in the brain, lower cortisol, increase muscle growth & strength, and improve fertility & reproductive health.

Vitamins & Mineral remedies

Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for aiding sleep are:

  • Magnesium
  • Iron (needs vit C for absorption)
  • Calcium (needs vit D3)
  • Boron
  • Vitamin C (necessary for iron absorption)
  • Vitamin D3 (necessary for calcium absorption)
  • Vitamin B

[please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication]

Pre-Sleep Release Techniques

Activities that help you to recollect yourself, your feelings and your mind may help you let go of the weight/burdens of that day. Meditation / Prayer, reading and spiritual moments or activities will help you to achieve this. The practice of examination of conscience helps me to find peace, and to also learn to accept my humanity in all its wonders and imperfections.

Brain dumping for the day – get all the last vestiges of the day’s worries, struggles and pains onto paper, and then throw the paper away, symbolising that you’ve let go of the day’s burdens and anxieties, and allow yourself to be at peace with who you are that very moment you fall asleep. Alternatively, journaling allows you to store those thoughts and feelings somewhere other than your head!

Understand your Sleep Wellness

Monitor your sleep activity every night using a Sleep app. I’ve been using the Sleep as Android sleep cycle app for at least 7-8 years now, and it gives me a lot of helpful information that helps me to monitor my sleep wellness.

Sleep Retreats

Particularly if you’re close to burnout, please, just STOP! Book yourself into a hotel and make a sleep retreat for yourself. Approximately every 2 years, I book myself into a sea-view hotel room for 7 days with the intention of recuperating physically and mentally, in order that I don’t burnout! About 50% of the focus of these 7 days is my sleep. If you have an interest in the programme I set for myself, please do get in touch with me and I would be delighted to share that with you. It would make this post too bulky to include it here, and there is a lot of wellbeing practice in it that needs thorough explanation. Note: I make other retreats that focus on other dimensions like my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. My point being that I don’t try to cram too much or set too many goals into one retreat.


So I have given you some techniques, methods and concepts that work for me. I’m of course also open to any thoughts you might have on this subject too! Feel free to leave comments below. I’m always learning new things, and love to learn about sleep. But I leave you with these words from The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity:

“While diet and exercise have their parts to play in a healthier Britain, SLEEP is the catalyst that makes diet and exercise more effective – whilst also delivering significant additional health benefits. Clinicians are already ‘prescribing’ exercise, it is now time to ‘prescribe sleep’ to the nation.

A good night’s rest is essential to a healthy lifestyle – protecting you physically and mentally as well as boosting your quality of living.” ~ The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity

I’m Claz, a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Career Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. You can contact me through my website and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.

[1] National Hydration Council. GPs reveal UK ‘tired all the time’. https:/ the-time/#footnotes1 (accessed December 2019)

[2] Daily Telegraph (2012). https:/ news/9257191/Sleeping-pill-cost-to-NHS-almost-50m.html (accessed December 2019)

[3] Hafner M, Stepanek M, Taylor J, Troxel WM, Van Stolk C. (2016) Why sleep matters — the economic costs of insufficient sleep: A cross- country comparative.

[4] The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity, 2020 Sleep Manifesto.