When Oprah tells me that I should be working towards my Best Life, I nod. As though I know what she’s talking about.
When a self-help book tells me that I should stretch beyond my comfort zone to be my Best Self, I dutifully highlight that passage.
But what does that even mean: “best self”? Your Best Self is different than my Best Self which is different than my neighbor’s Best Self. And if we’re not careful, it’s easy to inadvertently opt into society’s default Best Self. Keep reading for five questions that will help you figure out what, exactly, your Best Self is like.
Not knowing what your Best Self looks like is like planning a trip without a destination. Click To Tweet
6 questions to help you identify your Best Self (so you can be your Best Self more often)
How does your Best Self treat other people?
My Best Self actually listens when you’re talking; she’s not just waiting for a break in the conversation so she can drop in a hilarious story that makes her look good.
My Best Self intones “I am willing to see this person did their best” when someone holds up the checkout line for three minutes, digging in their bag for coupons.
My Best Self discusses different political ideologies calmly, respectfully. She doesn’t raise her voice, pound on the table, or get all red in the face and/or cry. (Uh, still working on this one.)
Is your Best Self inclusive? Patient? Assertive? Name and claim it, friends.
How does your Best Self treat you?
My Best Self can sit on a park bench and look at the river, the flowers, the smooshed-face dog walking by without checking her phone or making a list in her mind.
My Best Self doesn’t make unkind comments about her thighs or upper arms. She reminds herself how amazing her hair is and how lucky she is to be healthy.
My Best Self puts away the laptop and phone at 9 pm because she knows she needs to wind down if she wants to sleep through the night and not wake up at 3 am, yawning so aggressively she wakes up her husband.
What does your Best Self NOT do?
My Best Self doesn’t RSVP ‘yes’ to events she doesn’t intend to go to and then flake out at the last minute. She doesn’t let people say low-key shitty things without (lovingly!) calling them on it.
My Best Self doesn’t put off the very important but boring activities she knows she needs to do: physicals, car maintenance, phone calls to the credit card company about a weird charge. Getting what we want + becoming who we want to be is often just as much about what we DON'T do. Click To Tweet
Getting what we want + becoming who we want to be is often just as much about what we DON’T do.
How does your Best Self spend their time?
My Best Self fills her evenings with dinner parties, gardening, walks, home improvement projects, classes. She does not spend, say, three hours eating sour cream mixed with brown sugar watching music videos from 2001.
She spends a few minutes every day calling her senators, sending faxes, and reminding companies that, yes, we see that you’re still testing on animals.
My Best Self notices what makes her happy and makes a conscious decision to fill her time accordingly.
Who helps you be your Best Self?
My very worst qualities are my propensity for judgement and my blood lust for gossip. Some days feel like a constant battle not to tell you the secrets of every human I’ve ever met and then discuss – in detail – why they shouldn’t have made the choices they did.
So if you joyfully jump down into this pit of judgement and gossip, maybe we shouldn’t be friends.
But humans who make me more compassionate? More patient? Who encourage me to slow down and put away the to-do list for a minute? These are people I should have in my life.
Sidenote: obviously, nobody else is responsible for making us our Best Selves. We’re the only ones who can do that. But if someone actively encourages your worst qualities, you might want to limit your exposure. It’s hard enough to control our less-good urges without someone egging us on.
What situations, experiences, or activities help you be your Best Self?
I am my Best Self when I’m teaching and coaching – supportive, creative, happy, engaged.
I am my Best Self after a good night’s sleep, some quiet time to myself, and a few chapters of whatever novel I’m reading.
I am my Best Self when exploring a new city or neighborhood. I’m present, easily amazed, excited. I become one of those people who makes friendly conversation with strangers. I want to spin around Sound Of Music style and yodel about how we are all part of the family of humanity.
As with anything in life, it’s hard to go after what we want if we can’t articulate or identify it. Your Best Self is probably waiting for you in a coffee shop right now, hoping you can pick them out of the crowd.
I want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments what your Best Self looks like. (I know that feels awkward. Do it anyway! Even if you have to write it anonymously!)
P.S. We talk about all sorts of stuff like this in my free, private Facebook group Money & Happy. Join us!