Why I’m Tired Of Everyone Telling Me To Live My “Best Life”

Stephen Hussey

Lately I’ve read a lot of self-development articles that seem fixated on telling people how to live their ‘best life’.

It’s as if out there in the cosmos there is some perfect version of our existence in which we live everything at 100%. 100% riches, 100% success, 100% relationship, 100% health…as though if we maxed out enough stats we could finally feel worthy and be at peace with our existence.

I have no beef with the advice in some of these articles, but there’s something irksome to my brain about that phrase: living your best life.

It might sound harmless, but it’s the kind of phrase that, if taken too literally, can lead to constant dissatisfaction.

Every time I read one of those ‘living your best life’ articles, my mind immediately thinks: “dammit, I have tons of stuff that still annoys me and makes my day-to-day life harder, that must mean I’m far from living my best life”.

It makes me imagine that there’s some Platonic version of me in some parallel universe who’s a billionaire rockstar with a flawless sculpted body, and if only I followed the right habits I could finally merge with him already and stop dragging my heels.

To me, this is the opposite of inspiring.

Who in the history of the world has ever lived their best life?

I’m not even sure what living my best life would entail. A life with no suffering or hardship whatsoever? But some of the greatest art and wisdom is only squeezed out from our experience of adversity and hardship.

Is living your best life one where you do everything perfect all the time? Or is it one where you acquire success, material wealth, a hot spouse, and all the other obvious trappings of what society deems a ‘good life’?

Maybe I’m overthinking it.

Maybe living your best life is just an in-vogue neologism like #Blessed or ‘Life-Hacking’ that we’ll have to read in every article title for the next 5 years before it gets quietly replaced with something else.

To repeat again: I’ve got no problem with people who use that phrase.

It’s more what the phrase represents to my ear. The need to feel like we have to make the perfect decision at all times, the idea that once we live our best life only then can we be proud of our accomplishments.

The idea of living your ‘best life’ still seems part of our modern obsession with comparison, only this time the person we are supposed to envy and be desperate to beat is some imaginary version of ourselves. One who is richer, more successful, having more exotic vacations, and getting more sex…

For me, I’ve always found life is better when I have a sense of progress. When I feel I’m being valued and treated according to my self-worth. When I’m enjoying the people I love. When I get to work all day on something I adore and then have dinner with friends in the evening. When I take a risk and get someone’s phone number just because I decided to talk to them at a party. When I make pancakes from scratch and feel like I’m actually a good cook for ten minutes.

These things are all reasons to be happy. Or at least happier.

Imagine how many of us could enjoy life more if we all stopped worrying about whether we were living the best version of it all the time.

What phrases and trends are you tired of? Let me know in the comments!

Photo (Rayani)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

To Follow Steve On Twitter For More Updates Click Here

Free Guide

Copy & Paste These
"9 Texts No Man Can Resist"

29 Replies to “Why I’m Tired Of Everyone Telling Me To Live My “Best Life””

  • Hi Steve,

    I love the little “bridge” section in this article. The piece where you lay out what makes you happy. It reminds me of my journal writing. :) I believe that your best life is just that. Experiencing lows, so you can more fully appreciate the highs… Falling in love (one of the best parts of all) with someone who challenges you, using each day improve yourself in some way, taking risks, spending time with people who add value to your life. :)

    The phrase I am not a fan of is Carpe Diem/Sieze the Day. I certainly appreciate the concept, and think it is important to do so, but the way I see it used sometimes is so wrong. At times I see it used as a way to shame or control a person’s behavior, when it should simply be a reminder that our minutes are limited. We cannot possibly seize every moment of every day in the way that some articles propose. Sometimes my seizing the day looks like my cooking myself a meal (or making popcorn) and having a Netflix marathon/nap. I mean… we need to rest at some point!

    Thank you for starting my Wednesday off right! :)

  • I love what you said “To me, life is better when I feel progress. When I feel I’m being valued and treated according to my self-worth. When I’m in love. When I get to work all day on something I adore and then have dinner with friends in the evening”

    To me, this is a beautiful, authentic self, who is comfortable in life. I see that as the “Best Life” out there because you have stopped striving and running after this and that. Do you dream still, I sure hope so, but it’s in the knowing you have overcome many obstacles, heart aches and have grown into your own skin. A beautiful strength. Then by sharing your heart and strength with others you are doubly blessed. I agree with you that the phrase can so easily create dissatisfaction and keep you running on the hamster wheel to achieve “more” and that is what I do not care for either. Life is good. :)

  • Hi Stephen,
    I think the phrase ‘living your best life’ should refer to each person making decisions in their life that will hopefully lead them to get the most out of their life. Not necessarily stiving for overly great things, just making sure you’re living a life that is worth living!

    Continue with the insightful and informative work!

  • Everyone’s life has purpose and it’s not about whether you get married or not or have kids or not or own some huge house or not. It’s about integrity and character in my opinion. One of the most inspiring people in my life can’t talk and needs aid in order to just live every day. She’s lived in a hospital pretty much her entire life. She’s pushed me to experience all that I can in life. I’m always thinking of her in the back of my mind each day. She’ll never marry and never have children and wouldn’t know any different. She’s now 45 yrs old, yet doctors told my parents that she’d only live to be 5. Success/happiness is all relative in my opinion. To me, living your best life is just being a person of strong character, making choices that reflect that character and giving love to those around you. It’s less about what you can accomplish, experience and acquire in your life before you die.

  • Thank you for this Stephen.. I agree…
    The phrase that gets my goat when I read it is you have to be complete or a whole person. You have to be complete before you’ll find love or to be loved… Two whole people coming together.. without being a whole person or complete we are basically doomed to not finding love. I believe we are really ok, we are where we are on this live long journey growing snd evolving… Most of the people in fact everyone I know is not complete/whole.. and many have found love… and share their life journey through all the seasons good and bad… Each being are re reread support along the way to their other halve person. Xx

  • Live your best life to me means:
    1. Learn from the bad.
    2. Be grateful for the good.
    3. Grow. Move forward.
    4. Relish each moment. ❇

    And 5. (Taken from Matthew in NY)…
    THIS. IS. MY. YEAR! ❇

    Carry on, gentlemen. ;)

  • What a beautifully written post. I so agree that modern society has become very demanding in terms of having ultimate fulfillment (or your best life). And modern society demands that from marriage most noticeably. We must be completely happy and fulfilled, if we aren’t, we leave. It’s a shame. Contentment and gratitude and, dare I say, service are lost treasures we rarely cultivate. I’ve heard it said that we’re living in the most selfish society in history, so naturally our main goal would be to have the best life. Do you think we can strike a balance in our quest for the best life? Could we use discernment to know where to strive for improvement while still appreciating what we already have and what we already are? For instance, I’m a vocalist, I’ll always be working to add notes and develop my vibrato, but I’ll still sing and enjoy my voice now.

    Really thought provoking article Stephen. I don’t have a phrase, but I do hate when people look at my life and express disapproval because I haven’t incorporated one or two specific things they think are necessary – despite the 10 huge things I did accomplish.

  • BTW, I’m totally confused about the picture for this article. Is there a story behind those shoes and what do the words say? :)

  • Living the Dream! Whose dream, cos unless it truly is yours it’s not worth having. Like you say, is it the dream society and culture have decided is the way to perfectly be.
    #lifehacks Life is what is dealt to us. But I really believe it’s a set of cards we always have a choice in how to play and effect our own outcome. We can always make wise choices for ourselves that affect the outcome hugely.
    I often feel like I’m living in a parallel universe. And in my mind there’s the perfect, ‘firm’ me waiting there. I saw an interview online with the actors who played in Constallations, where a couple meet, and I think are in love, in parallel universes. It was a play on Broadway and had its basis in scientific theories, conflicting ones. It sounds so interesting and the actors apparently had great chemistry and brilliant acting skills. I wish I’d seen it, sounds wonderful and interesting.
    Great to read your articles Steve, Kathryn x

  • My pet peeve is the overuse of the word busy. As a greeting, my patients often ask the standard, “keeping busy?” Or they might explain that their summer has been so “busy”. Or they might say, “sounds like you’ve been busy. Keeps you out of trouble.”
    It’s actually depressing. It’s as if people are just finding things to do just to fill up time until the day they die. I wonder if when they are 80 or 90, if they will look back and even remember what they even filled their hours and days with! I imagine this “busy-ness” being activities or errands that are urgent and mundane rather than significant and growth oriented.
    Yes, we all have the ordinary tasks necessary for day to day living but even these should not be just busy tasks. For instance, for some reason, I love mowing my lawn and I love the way it looks afterwards. I am not busy. I am in the moment smelling the fresh cut grass and admiring my carpet of grass/sundry weeds. Perhaps I am misreading, but slay me now I just sink to filling my time with urgent busy-ness!

  • Honestly, enjoyed the article….but can the author please check the use of single vs double quotes and spacing please? Riddled with grammatical/punctuation errors :/

  • Great article Stephen! I have to admit to being overwhelmed when the New Year rolls around, and every magazine has ” live your best life” as their lead article! In the past, I would try to incorporate all the suggestions, and would give up half way through.
    I now view that phrase as trying to strive towards improvement and making gains in whatever area I am focusing on. That there is always room to improve or further a skill. By taking the pressure off, I seem to be accomplishing more. Not my best life, but a better life! :) Definitely a lesson I learned in the Retreat last October!!
    The phrase that really irritates me is “living the dream”. I think that it is so subjective and that one needs to strive and work towards whatever makes them happy and feel fulfilled, rather than the focus on material accomplishments.
    Thanks again for a great article! Looking forward to next Wednesday! :)
    Warmest regards,

  • “Just be your self”

    I hate this line. It doesn’t mean anything coz the concept of self changes all the time.

  • You’re so right Steve, about all these cliches.
    I will use your text in my English classes as reading and discussion material with my students, if that’s alright with you.
    I think your writing is great, both in form and content.
    Thank you!
    Have an inspiring day!

  • This is right on. Every morning I wake up and compare my day to my “best life”, coming up short every time. It has been a great source of dissatisfaction. I didn’t realized that until now. I remember when I was a little kid. I wasn’t comparing my childhood with some ideal every day. I want to feel that way again. Thank you, Stephen.

  • Hey Stephen,

    Great perspective! For me, I seem to feel annoyed every time someone talk about “unconditional” love! Have we not heard before that love conquers all…….in my humble opinion you don’t have to have unconditional love to conquer something, love is love and if you feel it, that is enough to overcome anything! It is like saying you have to have the perfect love…….grrr….

  • Hey Stephen,
    One of my least favorite things to here is “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.” As if nothing good ever required work and that all things just “work themselves out” if it’s supposed to happen. Gives the wrong impression to just sit and wait when there’s more to it than that.

  • As hard as it sounds, ‘Be your best self’ can be a tiring phrase.
    I AM a fan of it, sometimes. But not when I overthink it, overdo it.
    What does that even mean? Never complain, not to want anything for myself, or from others? Come up with every solution myself so I never, ever have to discuss an issue with anybody, so I’ll be liked? For.. not being a person really?
    There’s some personal stuff in my view of a ‘best self’, I know.
    Still whenever I hear how such attributes are praised as how one should be, it makes me sad.
    How is this compatible with being human, with struggle, with moods, and individualism?
    Also I see a contradiction. Let’s say I’m just not sure if this way of being one’s best self as described above means being strong, mature and self-reliant OR if it’s just an inability to open up, to trust other people, to impose oneself, have standards = pretty fearful; and immature.
    So the best self-theme is one for headaches.
    Another one is ‘just be positive’ – goes a bit in the same direction like the first one, can mean anything, can be stupid or unhealthy.
    ‘Just see what happens’ is the worst – many things happen. Do they happen to me? Or around me? Do I want to wait and see how just anything will happen, without me influencing or guiding it?
    All of those sentences CAN be very useful and good to consider. In some specific context.
    When generalized, I find they are completely crappy advice.
    Thanks, this venting feels great, actually!

  • Dear Stephen

    For all your wisdom, I can’t believe you’d be beaten by this. ;P

    I’d offer you my interpretation. See if you agree:

    Your best self isn’t some future self. Hence, your best life isn’t some future life.

    Your best self is the best person that you can be RIGHT NOW, under current circumstances and according to your best knowledge and abilities now. You could also say, it’s making the best of yourself, despite all the external and internal limitations. As long as one consciously chooses to do what’s right and important over what’s easy but non-essential, and their actions make them a better person, they are living their best lives!

  • Dear Stephen,

    This might be one for your brother. But I am saying it anyway. The phrase that I am tired of hearing is: “Ohhhhh [insert the look of pity]….You will find someone [soon]” or another version “The One is just on its way.” Well, if he is on his way he better get out Google Maps on his phone to find me right NOW and save me from the conversation that is about to go down.

    Maybe I don’t want to be found and rescued? After all, I am not a stray dog to be picked up and taken home from the shelter. Maybe I am not ready “to be found”? Maybe I am having to much fun drinking Tequila shots with my brother at my friends art show opening till 2 o’clock in the morning on a Wednesday? Maybe I am scary with my colorful language? Maybe I don’t want the emotional connection with somebody, yet?

    The reality is that I don’t care. But the notion that everybody needs to be married or in a relationship- especially women and especially at a certain age- to be happy is something that really annoys me lately.

    The other phrase in this area that annoys me is: ” You need to love yourself first in order to be loved” What does that mean?

    To make an extreme point, there are plenty of people out there with substance abuse problems, mental and/ or psychological illness that do not allow these patients “to love themselves first”. Yet, some of them are married or in a relationship. Some of them are even in a healthy romantic relationship. To point to me, I was in a romantic and healthy relationship when I was suffering from depression. Now, I am healthy and I am single.

    Thank you for listening. Enjoy your weekend.

    Best of luck to all of you,


1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *