How Do We Become Our Best Self?

Everyone wants to — or should want to — get better. A common expression implores us to “be your best self” but how exactly does one do that?

The end of the calendar year often leads to some reflection on the past, and perhaps even to some self evaluation. In turn, this might lead to new year’s resolutions, or things you may want to change or improve about yourself.

But is change even possible? Sometimes it feels like year after year you have the desire to change, but may not have the capacity to carry through on that desire. Is it just a matter of not having the willpower, or is there something deeper at work here?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What do you believe?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are you willing to sacrifice?’


For example, some people, after thinking about their life, may decide they resolve to be a more positive — or at least a less negative — person in the new year. But some studies seem to indicate that a person’s happiness level is pretty constant. While it might change a bit in the short term, long-term happiness remains mostly constant.

After all, we live in an age of wonder, where we know more and can do more and live longer than at any time in history. And yet, there is no evidence that we are any happier — in fact, the opposite maybe true.

But of course, some change is possible. No one stays the same — at the very least, a person will get older, which is one kind of change. But can we direct that change and make meaningful strides in our desire to improve? And if so, how? How do we become our best selves?

Related questions: What are you doing to improve yourself? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better? Is life today better than in the past? What are you doing to make the world a better place?

What Would You Do If You Had More Time?

Let’s try a thought experiment. Pretend that there is an eighth day in the week, or an extra hour in the day. What would you do with more time?

Many people feel they are too busy, that their days are too full. Between work, family, social obligations, and so on, there isn’t much extra time for hobbies or exploring other interests.

This starts at an early age, as school work can take up a lot of our childhood years. For many, there is a relentless pressure to get good grades, in order to get into a good college. This sets you up for graduate school, law school medical school, or the like.

It doesn’t get any better once you get into the working world, as a young employee will often be expected to work long hours in order to get established (and pay off school debt).

Add in a spouse and some kids, and every hour of the day can easily be taken up with one chore or another.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Are we too busy?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’


But what if it wasn’t that way? What if you had some time every day to an interest of some sort? What if there was an extra day to spend on an extra project? How would you spend that time?

Maybe you would write a novel. You might get your friends together to film an amateur movie. Perhaps you would host a regular party for friends, or learn to paint. Who knows? You might watch more TV.

What would you do if you had more time?

Related questions: Are we too busy? If you had an assistant, what would you have them do? What are your favorite hobbies? What is time?

How Has Your Work Life Changed?

The nature of work life had been changing, but the COVID pandemic accelerated that change. How we work may never be the same again.

While some companies closed temporarily or permanently, others adapted in ways that may have long-lasting impacts.

Many companies were hesitant to encourage their employees to work from home. There was some concern that productivity would plummet, if workers were at home, where there were innumerable distractions.

However, those fears appeared to have been overblown. Productivity did not take a noticeable hit when employees were forced to work from home, even if they have kids they suddenly needed to provide daycare for. And office space can be quite expensive, so downsizing corporate buildings can have measurable financial benefits.

Even beyond that, quality of life for employees working from home can improve significantly. Commute times drop to zero, and a worker can put in just as many hours at their job, and still have time to devote more time to family. A happy employee is a productive employee.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you define success?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


Still, there are concerns that communication between co-workers may suffer. It is also difficult to build a sense of camaraderie between employees who spend little to no time in close proximity.

As government guidelines change, so companies are requiring their workers to go back to the office, while some are not. Even those that go back may find some things have changed in the year and a half since the pandemic started.

What about you? Are there differences in the way you do your work? Are there differences in the way your business or your company thinks about remote work? How has your work life changed?

Related questions: How do you want this to change you? Work or play? What is your dream job? What is the value of inefficiency?

Why Don’t You Know What Makes You Happy?

We are all chasing happiness throughout our lives. Sometimes, we will go to great lengths to try and achieve it. But do you know what will actually make you happy?

It’s hard to argue against happiness. Simply put, it feels good. Given a choice between some other emotion — being sad, for instance, or mad — happiness will win in all but the most extreme circumstances.

However, some studies seem to suggest that what we think will make us content doesn’t. Or at least, it doesn’t produce long-lasting happiness.

For example, we convince ourselves that buying the latest gadget will do the trick. And sure enough, shortly after buying it we are very pleased, but that sensation fades pretty quickly. In turn, that leaves us wanting something else to fulfill that need.

Alternately, it is suggested that positive experiences might lead to longer-lasting happiness. Sharing with a loved one, making memories with friends, or unique experiences are thought to be more fulfilling, ultimately, than some physical possession.

Have you found that to be the case? Do you know what will make you happy? Or do you just think you know? Why would we think something will make us happy when it won’t? Looking back on your past experiences, can you draw any conclusions for what has been the happiest times of your life?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? What makes you the happiest? Why do we put up with unhappiness?