Getting Always Being Best Off Your Chest
Doing your level best takes constant effort. But we humans can’t sustain it in an even way. Instead, we have downtimes and struggles; sometimes falling into a heap or making a mess.
When I was a young boy my school, Jordanville South Primary (in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne), proudly held aloft the motto, “Our best always”.
On the face of it, a grand declaration like that was inspiring. Only it wasn’t. The area was a disadvantaged one and it had more than its share of broken homes and crime. So “Our best always” wasn’t in evidence.
Decades on the school is long gone, along with the roofless toilet block (where my brother found a deadly tiger snake). Each asbestos lined building got bulldozed to make way for another housing development.
All that remains today are memories. Today, after all these years, “Our best always” still comes to mind.
Despite the school’s good intentions, slogans and expectations that we can always be at our peak and never be at low ebb actually reinforce failure. Nobody should ever be encouraged to believe that they are capable of ongoing perfection because that’s not a human trait.
Over the years, I’ve encountered numerous people despairing because they frequently feel so inadequate. It is as if the belief that they have to constantly be their best has overwhelmed them. For now, they feel their waking moments are anything but.
Expectations that push us up against a wall and pressure us to live an idealized life are not the answer. In part, that’s why I wrote my book about finding your own personal happiness. Because so many “experts” keep spreading sabotaging messages (like telling you that you have to have more to reach a happy state). Maybe with enough attractiveness, money, and fame you can find happiness. Yet, on that basis, the overwhelming majority of the world’s people haven’t got a hope (and that definitely doesn’t make sense).
We cannot expect to always be our best, and have the best of everything at the expense of those around us living in lack. Living selfishly is not especially successful (just showy and indifferent).
Besides which, being your best has wide meanings. Apart from financial achievement, it could just as well be about being a better parent, employer, business owner, daughter, sportsperson, scientist, artist, and… whatever else you define it to be.
Putting our earnest effort into doing the best we can is a good thing and far more realistic. At least there’s room for our ups and downs in that, and we still have the opportunity to improve.
Shaking off the burden of always having to look wonderful, feeling judged, and living in chronic uncertainty about whether we are ever trying hard enough is crucial. For surely, if we shoulder these loads, we will rarely know adequacy, let alone topflight competency.
To do well with your life, you need to shut the door on expectations of perfection and understand at a heartfelt level that your best is a flavor, not a measure.
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