Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.

~ Jacques Prevert ~

Must We Be The Best?

April 5th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 55 secs

How “best” do we have to be?

Have you ever noticed how often people claim they’re the best? On Twitter it borders on monotony. “I am a highly acclaimed, best, most biggest, seriously the greatest, and most famousest… thingy.” Right…

This best obsession wears thin quickly, in no small part because if everyone is the best, there’s no one else left? Besides which, whatever happened to people getting to know and appreciate each other because of their personal appeal?

While I respect the effort it takes to be good at something, I try to treat people equally well. To do anything less feels a “greasy” to me. After all, relationships are not a cover for getting what we want. They are an opportunity to discover life through the eyes of another and realize more about us in the process. So the “best person” is the person nearest reflecting qualities of character.

That means so much of the flagrant-attention seeking behavior people exhibit is unnecessary. Or worse: patently off-putting. Whilst being the best you makes sense, trying to convince everyone else that you are some kind of wonderful is almost antisocial.

A well-developed person actually doesn’t focus on themselves but on others. So being the best in that sense might mean listening more, forgetting about our “specialness”, and trying to understand who it is we are with.

Compare that one-to-one attention with people trumpeting how good they are. The latter seems childish at best: more like a game of one-upmanship than an attempt at relationship.

Of course “best” means many things, and we can interpret it any way we want. If someone is financially solid they may wish to pin their identity onto their status. But is that what being the best really is?

Having studied the common features of major faiths and beliefs the world over, I identified and condensed them down to Seven Strengths of character (which are a central part of my book on finding happiness). In every case, self-centeredness, egotism, and vain superiority are never endorsed as best attributes (rather, quite the opposite).

It is good to bring out our best abilities in every endeavor (of course). But to use these as a measure of our worth, prestige, or big-headedness is truly unhealthy. So it requires a sense of balance to put our abilities into perspective.

If we aspire to be the best then we need to be realistic. After all, anyone else in our shoes could do better or worse. It’s just that we were fortunate enough to have these opportunities and work hard at them. That’s all.

Besides, there’s something much more crucial and that’s the knowledge your individual value rests within you. And, best of all, it will always be enough.


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