I was working with a woman this week who was describing how tired she feels trying to “live her best life.” How she is trying so hard to do everything “right.” Not only is it not working, it’s backfiring. She’s not enjoying herself, and she’s not getting the results either promised to her, or that she believes she should be getting with all this effort.
I told her she was not alone. And I told her that there is a good chance that what’s driving her, does not even come from her own desires. Or from what her body or her life truly needs. Or even from an authentic source of what it actually means and takes to live your best life.
Not only is there a multi-billion dollar health and wellness industry intentionally cultivating insecurity in us while driving us to look outside ourselves in order to sell us lots of stuff, there is social media with its cruel drive to pit us against one another in a competition around living our best lives. And then of course, there is the entertainment industry with its warped, computer-generated, plastic-surgery-altered and starved-body version of beauty and health.
And while intellectually a good many of us would say that we know that all of this is not real or something to reference, we do so anyway because somewhere deep down inside of us, we have come to believe it. Or we believe others believe it and that we will be judged by those standards; leaving even the hesitant among us to go along with what we know is bogus. And harmful.
All of this has reminded me of something I heard a teacher say when I first started training in yoga. That being, Yoga is not about self-improvement. I had no idea what they were talking about. What do you mean it’s not about improving? Are you suggesting I don’t try and be a better person? Go for, in today’s parlance, my best life?
Yes. That is exactly what Yoga and any other Light-filled perspective, tradition or religious approach is saying. It has not, and never has been, about self-improvement with a little “s.” Instead it is about the Self with a big “S.” The one that needs no improvement. The one that has never been diminished by our choices or the ways of the world. The One that is an authentic expression of Source.
But what does that mean in terms of self-improvement? It means that whatever we choose to do, we do so in the service of our soul. In the service of our highest and best good. In the service of taking care of our bodies and minds that they may support us in being here in a life-affirming way. In the service of behaving in the world in a way that aligns with our highest calling, along with a deep and abiding sense of connection to All That Is.
Want to take this into practice? Get away from the commercials. Get away from social media that leaves you feeling less then. Get away from entertainment offering up plasticized themes and characters. But mostly, learn to source Something Greater than what a person is trying to sell you, mandate or demand of you in order to be seen as having value and a right to belong.