Lately I’ve read a lot of self-development articles that seem fixated on telling people how to live their ‘best life’.
It’s as if out there in the cosmos there is some perfect version of our existence in which we live everything at 100%. 100% riches, 100% success, 100% relationship, 100% health…as though if we maxed out enough stats we could finally feel worthy and be at peace with our existence.
I have no beef with the advice in some of these articles, but there’s something irksome to my brain about that phrase: living your best life.
It might sound harmless, but it’s the kind of phrase that, if taken too literally, can lead to constant dissatisfaction.
Every time I read one of those ‘living your best life’ articles, my mind immediately thinks: “dammit, I have tons of stuff that still annoys me and makes my day-to-day life harder, that must mean I’m far from living my best life”.
It makes me imagine that there’s some Platonic version of me in some parallel universe who’s a billionaire rockstar with a flawless sculpted body, and if only I followed the right habits I could finally merge with him already and stop dragging my heels.
To me, this is the opposite of inspiring.
Who in the history of the world has ever lived their best life?
I’m not even sure what living my best life would entail. A life with no suffering or hardship whatsoever? But some of the greatest art and wisdom is only squeezed out from our experience of adversity and hardship.
Is living your best life one where you do everything perfect all the time? Or is it one where you acquire success, material wealth, a hot spouse, and all the other obvious trappings of what society deems a ‘good life’?
Maybe I’m overthinking it.
Maybe living your best life is just an in-vogue neologism like #Blessed or ‘Life-Hacking’ that we’ll have to read in every article title for the next 5 years before it gets quietly replaced with something else.
To repeat again: I’ve got no problem with people who use that phrase.
It’s more what the phrase represents to my ear. The need to feel like we have to make the perfect decision at all times, the idea that once we live our best life only then can we be proud of our accomplishments.
The idea of living your ‘best life’ still seems part of our modern obsession with comparison, only this time the person we are supposed to envy and be desperate to beat is some imaginary version of ourselves. One who is richer, more successful, having more exotic vacations, and getting more sex…
For me, I’ve always found life is better when I have a sense of progress. When I feel I’m being valued and treated according to my self-worth. When I’m enjoying the people I love. When I get to work all day on something I adore and then have dinner with friends in the evening. When I take a risk and get someone’s phone number just because I decided to talk to them at a party. When I make pancakes from scratch and feel like I’m actually a good cook for ten minutes.
These things are all reasons to be happy. Or at least happier.
Imagine how many of us could enjoy life more if we all stopped worrying about whether we were living the best version of it all the time.
What phrases and trends are you tired of? Let me know in the comments!
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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.