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Is Your Best Life Ending? Getting Ready for Your Best After-life.
Throw a rock at the Internet and you’ll hit three pieces of content telling you how to be or have the ‘best.’ I’ve only clocked a mere 34 short years on this planet, so I can’t say how long this has been a thing, but if you study western society’s media, we appear obsessed with having and being the best.
There’s nothing wrong with being or wanting the best. But an imbalance exists between the relative significance of best and the energy we spend idolizing it and chasing it in our day-to-day lives. I’m calling it bestism, the compulsive desire to have and be the best.
The reality is, best is reserved for a select few individuals and organizations, and for a limited-time at that. The majority of businesses and people (both living and deceased), existed throughout history as not-the-best. Not the best parents, cooks, marketers, or underwater basket weavers. And guess what? They survived. And the number of people who live happy, fulfilling lives who never reach best outnumber the contrary a million-to-one.
That should be self-evident, because we can’t all possibly be best, especially at the same time. Best-sellers deny this obvious incongruity and demoralize us until we take action to become the best, because to them, not-best might as well be diagnosed as a terminal condition. Yet among all pursuits personal and professional, the majority of us operate somewhere between best and dogfood your dog rejected. And many of us continue to exist there despite swallowing the belief that ‘only the best’ will do.
This leads us to pursue tactics and adopt comparison-mentalities that bring undue stress to our lives. These feelings hit me hard this morning when I opened my inbox to newsletters I had saved for later. Among them were over a dozen clarion calls to exceptionalism: “stand out”, “be different”, “excel”, and “never settle for mediocre,” were but a handful among the battery of backhanded affirmations.
And I can’t blame the authors for publishing these rallying cries, I espoused such ideas, too! At some point, to me, average was synonymous with morally repugnant. What they and I failed to appreciate was just how much average actually runs the world.
The popular and well-recognized bests are only the top 1%. The remaining 99%? We do all that ‘average’ stuff, without which our world would malfunction. We cook average meals, write average copy, brew average coffee, and take average jobs.
And while it’s an absolute positive to work toward the best, whether you wish to be a best parent, best coffee brewer, or best 5’10” male brunette marketing newsletter writer, we should spend just as much, if not more time taking good long looks at our average-ass selves in the mirror and cracking a smile.