Living your best life is a current popular phrase.  I don’t know who started it, but I first heard it from Oprah Winfrey and Joel Osteen.  Many of us, including myself, are talking about living our best lives.  I wanted to discuss this topic because I have observed some confusion around it and also that some people are using it to make others feel bad.

So, what exactly does it mean to live your best life?  The biggest focus I have seen is on money.  Money is important, but it doesn’t guarantee a good life, much less the best one!  We can look at the rich and famous to see that.  How many times do we hear about them being miserable?  They have millions, live in the best houses, drive the best cars, are on TV and in the movies, receive awards, and grace the cover of magazines.  However, they often speak of not having any real family or friends, everyone they know wants something from them.  They have everything, yet feel depressed, often to the point of taking their own lives. 

What about celebrities who lose it all?  We hear the stories of going from millions to bankruptcy.  The most startling is how many celebrities end up on drugs.  You have to think hard to identify a celebrity in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s that wasn’t on drugs.

The reason I wanted to start with money is because some people have the misconception that money brings happiness, and they often use their money or status to display how they are living their best life.  This misconception leads people to seek after money or other things that they equate to living their best life.  It can be very destructive.

Here is my two cents on what it means to live our best lives…..

  1. Meaningful Work – Our work, job, and careers are a big part of our lives. Unfortunately, a lot of people hate their jobs.  They hate their jobs, their bosses, and sometimes the entire company!  It is a miserable thing to hate your job.  I have had jobs in my past that I hated, so I understand this feeling.

If you have a job that means something more to you than just a paycheck, then you are blessed.  I am a Social Worker, a lot of people look at this as honorable work.  It is, but there are a lot of jobs and careers that are honorable and meaningful.  You don’t have to be in the “helping field” to have meaningful work.  You could be a caterer, real estate agent, beautician, nurse, police officer, car salesman, janitor, construction worker, secretary, actor, clothes designer, plumber, anything really. 

Meaningful work is about identifying your place in this world and how that connects to your work.  Sometimes that work will be more in the public eye and you may receive attention because of it.  Most of us do work that will never be acknowledged on a large scale, but it is just as important.  You could have a more satisfying and impactful career as a teacher, than a C.E.O. of a fortune 500 company.  That big C.E.O. may be miserable, hated by everyone in his company, and causing destruction in the world with products or services that promote evil or hate.  While a teacher may be beloved by his students and positively impacting the future of the world.

  1. Family and Friends – Another area that is important to your best life is the people in your life. Family is everything.  These are the people that love you, believe in, help you, and spend time with you.  This may be your blood family or it may be a family that you create for yourself.  Many of the ladies I work with as a Social Worker do not have a good relationship with their blood family.  Some were raised in foster care, some were abused by their family, and some come from a toxic and unhealthy family.  Sometimes you have to distance yourself from your family in order to live your best life.  In those cases, you can create your own family.  It may be through marriage, your church, and/or your community. 

I often hear people say that you can’t trust anyone, and there are no good people left in the world.  This is spoken out of hurt.  Almost all of my clients say these things on a regular basis.  I know why they do, but I am working to try and help them heal and to create a new social network for themselves.  If you weren’t born into a good family, create your own.  Having a positive supportive network is very important to living your best life. 

  1. Enjoyment – You should enjoy your life. This is the fun stuff, which is different for everyone.  Travel, fashion, education, beauty, creativity, love, romance, culture, houses, cars, and comfort are just some of the areas of enjoyment in life.  It could be as simple as taking a dance class, being in a book club, or the women’s group at your church.  Or it could be as extravagant as sailing on a yacht, or taking a dream vacation.  Remember it is different for everyone. If you have some enjoyment in your life, that is a huge part of living your best life.

 

  1. Money – Okay, so I started out by saying that money was not the be all and end all of living your best life. However, it is a part of it!!!  Money is relative.  Meaning it has a different meaning for everyone.  For one person $50,000 is what they need to be comfortable financially, while for another person it’s $1,000,000.  Whatever you determine is the amount of money that you need and want for your life is good for you.  But let me say a few things about this.

Make some kind of financial goal.  Many of the ladies I work with say things like money doesn’t matter, etc. but they rely on others to provide for them and their children.  This is not good.  Money isn’t everything but it does matter.  Being dependent on the government, agencies, charities, and free give away’s is not a good way of life.  There is nothing wrong with needing assistance, but being dependent on assistance your entire life is NOT living your best life.  And it is most definitely not something to aspire to. 

In addition to being in need, some of them have the nerve to be mad when we as the agency do not have it.  Those same standards and expectations that you have about an agency providing for you, have them for yourself!  We may not have the bus tickets that you need to get around, but neither do you!  So, what’s the difference?  It should be your goal to provide for yourself and your children, not to look for others to do it.  Much less have a bad attitude about it! 

The first three areas that I discussed – Meaningful Work, Family, and Enjoyment are all impacted by money.  Use it as a tool and a way to support your life, not as a way to find happiness.  Even though I have not achieved my desired income yet, I am still living my best life.  How?  Because I overcame major challenges in my life and I am now in a good place overall.  As a black woman from the east side of Detroit, alcoholic father, mentally ill mother, teenage mother at 14, losing a child, ex-stripper, twice divorced, and only 4’11 LOL I was supposed to be a failure.  I should BE one of my clients, not HELPING them.  I know the outcome that was designed for me as a black woman in this country, but I chose something different.  THAT is success. 

Meaningful work-I have a good career as a Social Worker and Motivational Speaker.  Family & Friends-I come from a good family with a lot of love, and I have great friends.  Enjoyment-I may not have everything I want but I am enjoying my life.

 

So, I hope this helps with understanding this popular phrase about living your best life.  Some of us are and some are not.  If you are not living the life you desire, you can get there!  Set some goals, make some changes in your life, and get some support.  Just because you are not where you want to be today, does not mean that you can’t be tomorrow! 

For the rest of us that are where we want to be, when you see someone who is not, have some compassion towards them.  Do not use your blessings to make other people feel bad.  Share your experiences, advice, and possibly resources to help others.  Remember you don’t have to put someone else down to make yourself look better.  Live your best life, and help a few others along the way to live theirs too.

Are you living your best life?  What are some other areas you feel contribute to a person living their best life?  Feel free to share.

Love, Tonia

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