Why the Bird in Your Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

bird in hand

Do you wish to have more in your life than you currently have?

Have you ever been envious of other people who had that flashy car, nice big house or attractive partner?

If so, then it is time for you to get clear and appreciate what you already have in your life.

First, what does the phrase “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” really mean?

Wiktionary dryly explains that it is better to have a small, actual advantage than the chance of a greater one.

Historically, the phrase refers back to mediaeval falconry in England where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

In everyday terms, it means it is better to keep what you have than to give it up and try to get something better. You already have a bird in the hand but you would still rather have what you don’t have i.e. two birds in the bush.

The point is that you should be happy with what you already have and not risk losing it by being greedy and trying to get more.

Remember also that though the grass may always seem greener on the other side of the fence, in reality it is hardly ever the case.

The key is to enjoy and appreciate what you already have. Next time you think others are having a better time or have more than you, just remember the three things you already have going for you:-

1. Your lifestyle

On a superficial level, you might think other people have a much better lifestyle than you. For example, they might have the flashy car and big house which you always wanted.

But how do you know just how happy they really are, or even what their financial situation is? They may have huge borrowings and repayments challenges.

Of course it is okay to aspire to better yourself and your situation, but remember that could well come with a high price. It’s about getting clear about what you want and your priorities.

So appreciate whatever material things you already have and make the most of them. At the same time, whilst appreciating what you have, you are always allowed to declutter!

2. Your relationships

You might envy others who seem to have a much better relationship than you. But just how close and loving is their relationship?

Are they really as happy as you?

You might even covet someone else’s partner for being better looking, sexy and charming. But at the same time, can you really know what they are like as a person in a relationship?

A secret affair or two may seem rather attractive and fun, but the kicks will be rather short-lived. Just ask Tiger Woods!

Also appreciate the friends you already have.

3. Your uniqueness

Have you ever tried to be like someone else because they seemed to be more outwardly successful?

So often we try to impress others by being something we are not. Instead, just be authentic and be yourself. Be comfortable in your own skin.

You are here on your own journey – no point trying to take on someone else’s façade along the way!

Hold on to the bird in your hand

Know that you don’t need to pretend to be something you are not. And neither do you need the outer symbols of success to make an impression.

Enjoy what you already have – and make your contribution to the world in the best possible way.

And remember how easy it can be to blow it all by going for more and not appreciating what you already have.

I wonder what Tiger Woods would have to say today about appreciating what you already have in your life right now.

You have to hold on to the bird in your hand whilst you can, otherwise one day it may just fly away!

holw on to the bird in your hand before it flies away!

Top photo from Brenda-Starr


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  3. This is so true, great article Arvind….

    it’s like they say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone… Tiger Woods is a unique character, he appeared to live in the moment and didn’t really consider the consequences, but you reap what you sow. He’s lost sponsers from various big brands, I guess he’s paying the price now. So I agree with being unique, I love being unique and I think you gain more when your uniqueness shines and makes people smile rather than cry. 🙂

    • Sheetal, I love the idea of using your uniqueness to make people laugh rather than cry.

      So often we all long for someone or something we took for granted and only realised just what they were worht to us after they had gone.

      As for Tiger Woods, I do hope he returns to golf in due course, but only after he has done everything he can to save his marriage and keep his family together.

  4. Gretchen over at The Happiness Project actually posted something along these lines recently too! Curious how trends and ideas seem to spread through the blogging community.

  5. Hi Arvind,

    This is really sage advice. My grandparents always said this. In fact, they had a bunch of sort of “dated” sayings that go way back, but which are really great pearls of wisdom. They were raised during The Depression. I was going to do a post on their sayings, they’ve meant a lot to me (even though when I was young I thought these sayings were “weird”). Anyway, thanks for sharing this!

    Miche 🙂

    • Miche, I really look forward to your post about your grandparents’ “dated” words of wisdom:-)

      The old “weird” ones are the best and full of timely wisdom – which we need more than ever before today.

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  10. Adrian Nadeau says

    Great reminders! Which are always much needed. Thank you!

  11. The Barking Unicorn, Denver CO between dimensions says
    • Thanks David A. Hakala, d. b. a. The Barking Unicorn, for your grounding thoughts.

      I love your take on this topic – if it is not even ours in the first place, then why worry about losing it!

      However I wonder if someone who has a lot to “lose” will see it from this viewpoint. For example, Tiger Woods would love to be able to just say his family was never his, so lets just get on with the golf.

      In practice a great way of being but not yet attainable by most.

      • The Barking Unicorn, Denver CO between dimensions says

        The hand that does not grasp IS attainable by all and will be attained by all, each in his own lifetime… which doesn’t have to be this lifeitme. We have all the time we need to learn all we need to know.

        BTW, you got my d. b. a. name wrong. This explains


      • The Barking Unicorn, Denver CO between dimensions says

        More, if you wish:

        i have thought I had much; money, cars, home, etc. I was mistaken, of course. I “lost” it all. Then I “regained” some of it, choosing more judiciously what to grasp. Then I gave it all away. So learning not to grasp is quite possible even for those who are grasping much right now.

        Leo Babauta goes into more depth than I did in my blog about letting go of things:


  12. Our own uniqueness is a great gift we each have and should hold dearly.
    Although difficult, I would like to see a day where media exalts the uniqueness of each individual instead of telling us what we are supposed to be or look like. When the economics of selling change??

    • Ken, that would be an amazing day when the media and everyone else recognises and acknowledges everyone’s uniqueness.

      In the meantime, let us all celebrate our uniqueness as the gift it truly is.

  13. Arvind,

    What we have is more important. But as a human being, we sometimes feels grass is greener on other side, until we learn to let go and believe in ourselves.

    About Tiger woods, I am sure there is lot more to story than we are told by media.

    • Zengirl, great point about believing in ourselves rather than always looking for greener grass elsewhere.

      As for Tiger Woods, for his and his family’s sake, I hope there is not much more than what the media have already told us. How can it possibly get any worse?!

      Since he managed to keep it all quite for so long, a lot of his support team must have known about his nocturnal activities for a long time.

      • The Barking Unicorn, Denver CO between dimensions says

        Oh, for Goddess’ sake, there are a lot of things that could be worse than getting caught screwing a woman you’re not married to!

        And don’t act like Tiger’s stupid for doing it. What’s stupid is promising you’ll never want another person again as long as you live. Even stupider is believing such nonsense.

        • Yes, agreed that there are lot of things that could be worse. But right now Tiger’s world is collapsing all around, and not just his marriage and the loss of his family.

          Apart from losing his sponsors, his reputation is in tatters. He has let down millions around the world who worshipped him and looked upon him as a role model.

          As for being stupid for promising you will never want another person again as long as you live, a lot of people around the world do exactly that. Not only do they believe what they say, they live by it.

          It’s not stupidity, its called commitment.

          Okay, a lot of people break this commitment, but at the point in time when they make their commitment, I would like to think they genuinely mean it.

  14. It kind of resonates with a quote I put on my facebook today “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

    But appreciating what you do have is so important…it has so much power that unless you’ve really delved into it you truly cannot understand it! Thanks for the reminder Arvind!

    • Amit, there have already been so many times in my life when I have been glad I didn’t get what I wanted.

      So I consider myself really lucky!

      Lucky not only because of what I didn’t get but also because of what I already have:-)

  15. It is only human nature I fear that makes one want to strive for more than what one has. It is good to be wise and remember all these sayings but ….one has to learn along the way and learn from mistakes…all part of growing old.


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