Any time now, the travel companies will entice us with images of relaxed, happy people enjoying fun in the sun to try and sell us holidays for the year ahead. Anyone who has taken holidays will know the reality doesn’t always match up to the sales pitch.
Sure we might have fun but equally we might have arguments, feel down, get ill, feel de-motivated or just feel flat and grumpy on holiday. We might play along with the fiction and post our snaps of ‘fun times’ with gritted teeth behind the smiles, silently railing as kids play up, the weather turns poor or the traffic tails back 10 miles. The reality of holidays is that our feelings go up and down (as they do the rest of the time).
But we do like to cling on to the idea of the perfect holiday where all feels right with the world.
In much the same way, it can be very alluring searching for our ‘best’ selves. Looking to find and pin down the ideal version of ourselves, in the hope that it exists somewhere when life, ourselves or others get off our case. It’s like trying to capture it in a portrait image, frame it, hang it on the wall and proudly proclaim, “here is my best self”. As if that will somehow fool us and others into believing we always feel happy and well.
Because that ‘best self’ we search for is made up.
Looking for it will leave us ever frustrated and disappointed.
There is no such thing.
There is just how we show up, each moment. Sometimes, peaceful, sometimes grumpy, sometimes full of optimism, sometimes downcast. While we believe there is a ‘best self’ to find and put forward, on parade, we are setting ourselves up to be disappointed.
All those inspiring talks that tell us to reach for the stars, find the warrior in you, be the best you, they are innocently but mistakenly missing the transient nature of experience. Thoughts and feelings come and go, up and down and round and round. Events come and go. They are not related. There is no pass to get out of life and all it delivers.
So just as being seduced by the glossy holiday adverts can lead to a false idea of what a holiday actually is, so too chasing the idea of a ‘best you’, can lead to a false idea of what it is to be human and distract us from getting curious about a much more interesting and fruitful enquiry: what underlies the human experience?