Scroll through your social feeds and you likely find a photo (out of the nearly 4 million) tagged with #LiveYourBestLife. Maybe you shake your head or roll your eyes and “what does that even mean, anyway?”.
The expression “Living My Best Life” was first coined by Oprah back in 2005 with her book, Live Your Best Life, a collection of inspiring articles from O Magazine.
Although Oprah had this beautiful idea behind the phrase, over the years, it seems to have gotten tangled up with the phrase “Living the Dream” or “Living the Good Life”.
#LiveYourBestLife: According to Social Media
There is no denying that Instagram is often used for capturing the highlight reel for most of us. And we agree with Stephanie Murray over at Verily who says that’s not a bad thing. “…the “highlight-reel effect” is rooted not so much in the fact that social media is a highlight reel, but in the failure to recognize it as such.”
There is this misconception in the #LiveYourBestLife meme that there is no place for challenges and hardship. It’s calling for unrealistic and unachievable perfection. It’s calling for competition to somehow be the best at life as if there was such a podium. Moreover, we can get so caught up in comparison and competition that we don’t recognize how privileged some of us are with our perceivably mundane lives.
With the current world population being 7.67 billion people, there’s no denying that the qualities of lives are radically different yet we always yearn for the greener grass, regardless of our circumstances.
A Wholehearted, Integrated Approach to Living Your Best Life
An alternative, perhaps more true, realistic, and benevolent approach to living our best lives is to try making and giving the best of what we have, at this moment. Show up as we are. Shine or no shine. Being our true self is our most valuable gift to the world.
So, if that looks like braving a bikini on a beautiful beach because you are just learning to love your body or you somehow got pulled into one more story with your kid in your sloppy pajamas because – those sweet eyes, though.
A soft place to start is to notice when you are fantasizing about lifestyles that seem unachievable. Release the relentless pressure to have to do more, be more, or have more. Notice where you are, what you already have.
Belonging is a big deal. Maybe, it is the deal – the ultimate thing we are all searching for underneath it all. Inherent belonging. That connection to…something.
We search for it everywhere – mostly outside of ourselves, through achieving more stuff, stories and status. We do whatever it takes to belong.
True, known, integrated belonging comes from within.
We ALL already have ‘it’. Feeling it, knowing it – well, there’s the rub.
Starting to notice and appreciate even the smallest things, we can begin to cultivate a more gracious perspective, leading to feeling our inherent belonging and connection to others. Thank you. Yes, this too belongs. All of it.
From there, we can get curious about what living our best life actually means – for ourselves.
Maybe living your best life looks like incorporating more healthy foods into your diet or keeping a journal to declutter your thoughts. Maybe it means quitting your job to find more life balance. Or leaving that marriage after years of trying to find your way to one another. Maybe you have no flipping idea what it means, you just know it is not this.
Not All of Us Have the Luxury of Choice
Life has set all of us up with unique circumstances to work with, some of which lie beyond our power of choice, such as where we were born, how our bodies work, to which family, or what we look or feel like. These circumstances may make it relatively easy for some of us to strive to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life, or they can make it extremely difficult. It’s imperative to be aware of this.
In fact, simple survival can feel down where near impossible, sometimes. Some might be dealing with circumstances that are extremely complex and difficult to move through, like poverty, physical or mental health challenges, abuse, (systemic) racism, political upheaval, etc. The luxury of having a choice can be complicated by many multiples for far too many in our community, which can be overwhelming and heartbreaking.
For far too many, this concept of “living your best life” can feel like an obnoxious and offensive joke.
Understanding Privilege and Recognizing Our Own
When those of us with enough privilege to even try to live our best lives disregard the immense opportunity we have to lift up our community as a whole, we are missing the mark.
It is not just about living our personal best lives for our own egoic satisfaction.
How can we collectively create a community that supports an elevated experience for each member? How can we be our best so we can give our best to others?
Acknowledging our privilege is paramount, and why many trojan horses like Jameela Jamil are taking a stand to raise awareness on the matter. By understanding how different types of privilege work and recognizing our own, we can put our own experience into perspective and use our privilege to create positive change for others. It’s always better together.
Our privilege is a gift and can be turned into our superpower to lift up others. Thanks to our privilege, we might be able to spark even the most subtle of changes in others.
Does this mean that our problems are not valid? Certainly not. We all experience different degrees of suffering. Acknowledging where we are starting from brings perspective to our choices on how we move forward.
A Call to Choose.
For those of us in a privileged position to do so, what are you choosing? How will you Live Your Best Ever Life?
Read our Manifesto to learn more about what we feel Living Your Best Life actually means.