The Paradox of Attempting to Live Your ‘Best Life’

I hate self-help bollocks.  Let me start by getting that out there, so that no one is left in any doubt regarding my stance.  Similarly, I am not a fan of social media, so it takes little imagination to deduce my opinion when it comes to that point where self-help and social media collide: living my best life.

Is there a more apt phrase for summing up the vacuous self-obsessiveness of our modern age than ‘living my best life’?  It arrives on the back of a myriad aspirational reality TV shows and countless Instagram images of big thumbs held up in front of visions of white sand and blue seas; or perilous precipices and scenes of daring-dos; or plates heaving under the weight of vast feasts.  #Livingmybestlife.

There is something supremely detached about the concept of craving to live your best life; a psychopathic introspection, which elevates the needs of ‘you’, the individual, above that of all others.  It is as though you are somehow failing in the very fortune of your existence not to attempt to squeeze every last iota out of the experience.  Such pressure!  And at the expense of who, or what, else?

What, indeed, is a ‘best life’?  In a socio-connective world, far too often its pursuit is measured against the lives of a myriad anonymous strangers.  Am I leading a better life than David Beckham?  Than Rihanna?  Than MaryBestLife236?

I don’t believe in a ‘best life’.  To be the ‘best’ at anything is a chimera; it is a futile ambition.  I believe in the pursuit of happiness, and that elixir is far more readily discovered by rejecting the idea of a ‘best life’; happiness can be found a lot closer to hand.  Take a current example: I am sitting in my usual lunchtime haunt, a pint of wheat beer in my hand.  Is it the ‘best’ wheat beer I have ever drunk?  Probably not.  But does it bring me happiness?  Unquestionably.  Now, doubtless, I could go off on the hunt of a better wheat beer somewhere else, but would the discovery of it bring me closer to my ‘best life’?  Not in the slightest.  I would always be left with a nagging suspicion that a still better wheat beer remained out there somewhere, yet to be discovered.  It is the same with finding the ‘best’ beach; or the ‘best’ adrenalin-raising situation; or the ‘best’ meal.  Nagging suspicion will always sabotage the possibility of living your best life.

It is a paradox: the pursuit of living your best life means you will never live your best life.

Trust me, a woman called Beery Sue: rather than living your best life, happiness comes from embracing your mediocre existence.  A simple truth, but not such a catchy hashtag: #Embraceyourmediocreexistence.

© Beery Sue

Beery Sue knows how to embrace her mediocre existence.

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