“HOW’S it going?” I asked. A friend of my son’s went to boarding school last September. Like most children new to boarding, the first year threw up some challenges for him and for his parents. I’m not quite sure which of them is coping better…

They told me that he was now settling; there were just two outstanding issues; First a lack of privacy (Jack’s an only child and values his solitude) and his nagging feeling that perhaps life could be better at another school.

“For the first of those, there are the holidays,” his housemaster had told them. “That’s pretty well a third of the year. But there’s no answer to the second! Look at Brexit.”

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Today more than ever.

We have access to so much information, it’s impossible not to yearn for something else. No matter how good your life, one click on Facebook and you will see a friend who has it better.

‘Reality’ television, Instagram, Facebook, the popular press; all ensnare us with images of perfection. All free to use; all funded by advertising in which we are now targeted as individuals. Amazon’s Alexa (so much fun to use) collects our requests and choices, turns them into data and sells them to advertisers so they can tempt us with things we never even knew we wanted.

We become restless. We are not happy with what we already have because we are presented with so many choices, constantly invited to compare our lives with others. The perfect life lies temptingly round the corner.

It’s an illusion, of course, but the fear that we might be missing out on something and the fantasy that something better might exist just outside our immediate grasp is destructive. First, it prevents us from committing ourselves to the here and now because the perfect partner, job or opportunity may lie just round the corner. Second, it stops us from discovering the good in the things we already have. It is foolish to compare one relationship, job or friend with another. Everything is special in its own way; nothing is perfect. There are always bad bits and good bits; the uniqueness of a relationship is what makes it special.

The reality for most people is that the constant quest for something better (so effectively engendered by rampant consumerism) disguises a deeper and often well hidden, dissatisfaction with ourselves that will never be satisfied by changing our circumstances. Distant fields of green are the perpetual illusion that distract us from attending to reality.

Valuing what you have, nurturing the good bits; overcoming, facing up to and conquering the bad, are proven, reliable ways of finding contentment and happiness. Grass is truly greenest not when viewed from a distance, but when it’s watered, weeded and looked after.