What It Actually Means to be "The Best Version" of You
One of the corner stones of the contemporary gazillion dollar self improvement movement is the idea of your best self.
It's the idea of endless improvement, of becoming a better version of you in every possible way. Stronger, faster, fitter, sexier, smarter, and so on.
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Here's what a classical interpretation of “my best version of me” would probably look like:
I'd be shredded and super fit
I'd have hobbies that benefit the environment and the underprivileged
I'd have a meaningful, successful career
I'd master countless skills I can use to help and delight
I'd always be present for my family, friends, and neighbors
In this quest to become the best version of me, no moment would be spared.
When I wasn’t helping to save the planet or feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen, I would work on all sorts of cool and useful skills in my spare time.
In short, my life would be one long chase for improvement and perfection.
Whatever level I would reach, it would never truly be my best self, because there’s always room for improvement.
But in this pursuit, my life would probably resemble a glorious human adaptation of a mouse in a wheel, chasing ever higher highs and cooler cools.
However, I highly doubt I would enjoy that kind of life very much.
I’d certainly enjoy some or many of the fruits of my efforts, but I don’t think the day-to-day would ever be something that made me happy.
So, how do I reconcile that then?
How do I reconcile becoming my best self but not enjoying the process?
That would mean that to be my best self I would have to be miserable.
If life truly were all about outcomes, then it might make sense to make as big of a dent in the universe as I possibly can.
But life isn’t about outcomes. It’s about the here and now.
It’s about having a coffee with a struggling friend on a rainy morning and sharing intimate stories.
It’s about stopping in the forest to close your eyes and admire the sounds of nature.
It’s about playing games and laughing at silly things with people you care about.
It’s about doing things that you feel called to do that don’t have an obvious long-term payoff.
You see, none of those things would have made my “best version of me” list, because I would have been too busy chasing outcomes and “improvement”.
And yet they all belong on that list, because the best version of me isn’t to become better in every way, but to show up from a place of love.
When we seek improvement and perfection, we often get caught up in selfish thinking and we show up from a place of insecurity, stress and arrogance.
It’s why we often erroneously believe that the end justifies the means when in life all we really ever have are means.
Yet when we show up from a place of love, lightness, curiosity, and joy, everything we do and touch is touched by that feeling.
The biggest contribution that we bring to society isn’t what we do in terms of material gains, but the energy we bring into this network of humanity.
I don’t know about you, but I like to think that the best version of me wouldn’t seek personal betterment at the cost of bringing more negative energy into the network.
I like to think that I would show up as love, lightness, and deeply human.
Because that’s what I believe the world needs more than anything else.