This is going to sound a bit weird…
But if you’re wondering what is stopping you from being the best version of yourself, it probably comes down to one simple idea.
You do not have a “self.”
You have “selves.”
And the trick to overcoming the constant change from the grouchy self to the blissful self is to neutralize the differences between them.
Or perhaps better put, align yourself more closely to the “field” in which the different kinds of selves play: kind of like becoming the bowl instead of being the jello.
In full disclosure, I haven’t completely mastered the art of being the bowl. But I have found it and I polish it every day using some exercises we’ll discuss today.
And as far as I can tell, as long as you are thinking of yourself as just “one” self, you’ll probably continue facing an uphill battle when it comes to being your best self.
So stick around and I’ll share with you a few cool and interesting ways to think about how you experience a variety of selves inside of your conscious awareness.
Let’s get started!
How To Be The Best Version Of Yourself (If You Haven’t Got A Self)
Shinzen Young, one of my favorite enlightenment teachers, puts it this way:
When you wake up to what’s really going on, you realize that there really is on “one” person inside of you.
It’s more like you have the experience of a personality, and that personality is constantly changing.
It might crash about like an angry ocean, or flow like a calm wave.
Either way, one way to experience yourself at your best is what he calls “stream entry.”
So what is “stream entry”?
As I understand it from Young’s The Science of Enlightenment, it is finally understanding – and experiencing – the freedom most of the major religions and spiritual schools point us towards. As he puts it in The Science of Enlightenment: “Once you begin to have mystical experiences, you can feel right at home in anybody’s church.”
Now, if feeling at home wherever you are isn’t the best possible definition of how to be your best self everyday, I don’t know what is.
But let’s take things a step further.
If there is no self, and we are all multiple selves riding the “wave” of our personality… what are the “homes” our waves flow through?
When it comes feeling like you’re at the top of your game, here’s what I recommend you focus on.
The Best Activities For Personal Growth & Development
That’s what we really mean when we talk about being at our best: personal growth.
There are a number of personal development activities I have to recommend for you. I can’t address them all, but these are the ones that have helped me the most, especially as a person with physical and mental health issues to deal with.
To keep on top of things, it’s useful to be able to shift your mindset – quickly.
I do this usually through either the use of personal mantras or by firing off one of the memory-based meditations I learned in Happiness Beyond Thought.
It’s easier when you regularly practice positive meditation so that your mindfulness is high.
Keeping a journal is also a great way to maintain awareness of your current mindset and where it needs to be.
Time Management And Productivity
Because the nature of our personality is always flowing in waves, time management is so key.
I know that “grouchy me” has a much higher likely hood of taking over when I’m tired, or under the gun. Needing mindfulness for anger doesn’t happen to me that often, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.
However, here’s the thing. I enjoy a minimum of needing to manage my time because of a special focus I placed on lifestyle design.
“Lifestyle design” is the secret keyword underlying everything related to time management.
Look at it this way:
In order to manage time, you have to have it.
And for most of us, the number one way to be our best possible selves boils down to either:
- Getting a better job
- Becoming self-employed
If you’re always a standard employee, your time and energy is managed for you. So when you think about whether or not you want to truly be free to manage your time so you can work on yourself, you now have some insight on what to do.
In my case, I wanted to write for a living. So I designed a lifestyle around that goal. Time pretty much manages itself after that.
Goal-Setting and Goal-Achieving
Once you’ve decided that you’re going to give yourself some time to manage by improving your position in life, it’s time to set some specific goals.
Now, usually you hear about SMART goals.
That’s all find and dandy. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. At least to a large degree.
But the SMART acronym is missing a lot.
For one thing, there’s no way of testing whether or not the specific goal is specifically for you.
That’s why I recommend you write down at least 5 reasons why you want to achieve a certain goal. It’s also useful to push back on yourself by trying to figure out certain reasons why you might not want to pursue a goal.
For example, let’s say you decide that you’re going to become an entrepreneur. But once you finish with your SMART goal creation, you test it and can’t find 5 reasons why.
Perhaps you realize through the testing process that you really prefer to support entrepreneurs. So you now go back to the drawing board and test another idea and set goals around working for someone who pursues a vision you admire.
Not only have you made yourself a better goal. You’ve also made it much more likely that you’ll achieve it too.
Health and Wellness Practices
As I mentioned, I have health issues. Some of them, like arthritis, have driven me to experimenting with things like the carnivore diet. Spoiler alert: That didn’t end well.
But the point is that I tried.
And we all need to get honest about what our health issues are and do what we can to get to the bottom of them.
It’s really not possible to become your best self without optimizing each and every aspect of your body, the temple your mind inhabits.
Communication and Relationship-Building
Back when I had a team of six employees, we used the acronym CARE:
And it’s true most of the time. The trick is to make sure you surround yourself with good communicators.
To do that, it’s important to work on building relationships. It’s definitely an investment of time and energy, but well worth it.
If you feel like you’re too shy, here’s how to include community as you work on how to be the best version of yourself over time:
Journal about yourself and your multiple selves.
Answer questions like:
- Who am I when I’m shy?
- What is the part of my personality that withdraws?
- What animal am I like when I avoid relationship-building?
- What could I do to transform in this area of my life?
- What am I willing to do?
This questioning process can bring a lot of ideas for how to get out of your comfort zone and work on this area of your life.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Whether you’re after full-on enlightenment, or just seeking a bit more peace, there are countless ways to meditate. These include:
- Gratitude meditation
- Movement meditation
- Breathing meditation
- Zen practices
- Developing nondual awareness
Nondual awareness in particular will put you in tune with what Shinzen Young is talking about pretty quickly. It’s partly a brain chemistry thing, partly a matter of insight and philosophy.
But let’s face it:
There’s much to explore and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Probably the same journaling exercise we just discussed will be useful if you do feel stuck. Then, just begin anywhere. Meditation is exploratory and a journey that need not have a specific goal.
Creativity and Innovation
For many years I stuck to the discipline of reading non-fiction for my research and developing myself with self-improvement books.
But eventually I started craving novels. Up until that moment, I hadn’t quite realized just how much I had been starving myself of a reading experience I used to love. Heck, I had been a Film Studies professor and I wasn’t even watching movies anymore.
So I decided to read more fiction and start watching movies again.
It completely revived my creativity in so many ways. Within a year I had written a novel and created a game, new and fresh innovations that would not have been possible if I hadn’t invested in these aspects of being my best self.
Even if you don’t feel creative or innovative, dive in anyway.
You don’t have to write a single song in order to learn how to play hundreds of them on an instrument. We wouldn’t have symphonies if musicians didn’t do that.
Likewise with writing. Sure, we’ve got chatGPT writing books now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about how story structure works and enjoy telling a story yourself.
Or if it’s painting, go ahead and make a mess.
These aspects of your personality have to be used in order to approach anything even remotely like the “best.”
The Wheel Of Your Lives
Essentially what we’ve been talking about comes down to what many coaches call “the wheel of life.” Here’s an example from a planner put together by my friend Arthur Worsley.
Although the words he uses on this diagram are different from the list of activities we just went through, the concept is the same.
These categories represent aspects of each human personality.
The more you invest in each, the more dividends you’ll enjoy from them.
And the smoother the “wave” of your personality will flow.
If you’re feeling like all of this is a lot and wondering how you’ll ever find the discipline to attend to all these areas, grab my free course by clicking the image below:
It will help you with the lifestyle design piece of the puzzle. It includes the major steps I followed to give myself free time so that I could manage it.
So what do you say?
Are you ready to experience the best version of yourself?
Dive in and make it happen – only you (and you, and you, and you) can!