Daily Meditation #168–8/9/2022
“Be the best you can be.”
It’s an older platitude, but it checks out, and in my estimation it’s correct.
But what is “the best?”
With things like chess, it’s crisp and measurable.
Win a lot.
Beat those who are higher ranked.
Climb the board of the international ranks.
Fairly straightforward. You could even record your progress over weeks, months, and years.
But, in other things, it’s far more arbitrary and subjective.
Who is “the best” politician?
How about what makes “the best” spouse?
And what about “the best” chef?
While we as humanity could very likely boil these down into singular consensuses (or, perhaps, go to war over them if we cannot), it wouldn’t take but moments for these questions to devolve into disagreement or outright argument.
That aside, though, what makes “the best” of you? That’s the real question, isn’t it?
Now you don’t have a group-think consensus. It’s only you attempting to subjectively define your personal “best.”
And it isn’t necessarily accurate, either, as you only have your own few years of history to compare yourself to as well as your current “now.”
“Well,” you may begin, “I’d like to get back to 150 pounds from my current 200. That would be my ‘best,’ I think.”
Okay, this is a good start.
But that’s only relative to you, now. You may get to the 150 and, upon feeling outstanding, say “I think I would like to run a marathon now that I can!” or “Perhaps I’d like to compete in bodybuilding — I look pretty good.”
So, “the best” is — and arguably needs to be — a target that moves relative to our current and past self.
But we cannot stay “the best” forever, and like with our death meditations, must acknowledge that one day that best may, in fact, be a decline from a previous form.
While you may have been a body builder near the top of that competence hierarchy at 25, 35, or even 40+, at 70 — though you can and should certainly continue to stay fit — you must recognize your “best,” again, is relative.
The final thought is that we should seldom allow ourselves to stay too satisfied with our current form.
For most of us, more money can hardly be called greed when many of us are strapped to pay loans and bills .
Be your best.
For many, how can we become Narcissus, obsessed with our forms and overflowing with pride when we are obese?
Be your best.
For others, yet, we can scarcely guffaw at the idea of visiting a councilor with our spouse when we regularly go to bed frustrated or feeling alone.
Be your best.
You don’t need to be the best.
But I know that you certainly know you can be much better.
I know that I definitely can — I, myself, struggle with eating well and lifting weights consistently! I sometimes feel unmotivated to do anything but scroll. I have to fight the urge to play WoW 3.3.5 on private servers for hours and hours.
So I understand.
But what I cannot understand and will not empathize with is being satisfied too long with the excuse that I am “good enough” when I know the mountain has infinite more face to climb.
So, go forth — conquer thineself as much as you can. Be your best. Aspire to it each day, acknowledge defeat and learn from them, take the breather, but get back up and keep climbing.
There is no top.
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These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”