“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
- C.S. Lewis
Have you ever tried to make an egg fly? It’s a great way to ruin a perfectly good egg.
In the same way, have you ever looked at yourself and wished you were different or better? Maybe there is something about yourself you don’t like or something you see in someone else that you wish you had. Perhaps you just don’t know who you were made to be or what you were made to do.
At Dynamic Catholic, we spend a lot of time talking about becoming the-best-version-of-yourself. It’s a simple idea: every moment—every thought, word, or action—either helps you become a-better-version-of-yourself or a-lesser-version-of-yourself. And the secret of life is getting really good at becoming aware of and acting on the things that make you a-better-version-of-yourself.
It’s a simple concept, almost obvious even. And it is so true, that you might find it easy to overlook. But there are three really important lessons the concept teaches us about becoming a better person.
- The-best-version-of-yourself is not an achievement.
- You can’t become the-best-version-of-someone-else
- You can’t become the-best-version-of-yourself by yourself
1. The best-version-of-yourself is not an achievement
Too often we look at becoming a better person as an achievement. Like losing five pounds or advancing in our career, becoming a better person really means achieving four or five bullet points on a list of life goals.
That’s fine, but that’s not the same as becoming a better person. And it’s certainly not the same as becoming the-best-version-of-yourself.
Becoming the-best-version-of-yourself is not an achievement, it’s a journey. You can’t achieve four or five bullet points and then presto, you’re all done! That journey is lived out moment by moment, step-by-step, day by day. When being a better person becomes some far off achievement it loses its meaning. But the-best-version-of-yourself is a journey lived right now, in this moment, and in every moment of every day for the rest of your life.
Stop trying to be a better person. Stop trying to achieve some vague notion of a subjective idea in some distant future. Instead, use the-best-version-of-yourself as a guide in your everyday life. At any moment and in every moment, you can ask God, What would the-best-version-of-myself do in this moment? The answer will strike you with surprising clarity and conviction. Get really good at asking that question and then doing what you know the-best-version-of-yourself would do, and you won’t have to worry about being a better person anymore.
2. You can’t become the-best-version-of-someone-else
Too often, many of us think that being a better person means being like some other person. We look at someone—a sibling, a coworker, even a celebrity—and we think, Oh, if only I were more like her . . .
Comparison is a cancer to a healthy and soulful life. It eats away at every aspect of the human person, and it is absolutely destructive to the-best-version-of-yourself. When we get it in our head that we need to be a better person, it is often because we see someone else and wish we could have what they have or could do what they do. We’re motivated more by fear or disappointment rather than hope.
Every moment of every day, in every situation, and with every person we encounter, God wants to help you become a-better-version-of-yourself.
You can’t become the-best-version-of-someone-else. You can become a-second-rate-version-of-someone-else, but that will never lead you to who God made you to be, nor will it help you do what God made you to do.
The best-version-of-yourself is completely unique to each of us, and the only person you should compare yourself to is your best self. After all, God made you to be you—the best version of you. At first, you might not have the clearest picture of your best self. Don’t be afraid of that, especially if it’s your first go at this. The more you imagine and explore the-best-version-of-yourself, the more you will get to know your best self. It will become that much easier to recognize what the-best-version-of-yourself would or wouldn’t do in different situations, and it will ensure that the only one you are trying to become is you.
3. You can’t become the-best-version-of-yourself by yourself
As you continue on this journey, you might find it difficult at times to choose the-best-version-of-yourself. You might find that, even when you know what the-best-version-of-yourself would choose, you still resist that choice. Even when you know a thought, word, or action will lead you to the sadness that comes with a-lesser-version-of-yourself, you’ll struggle to choose what is good and right and noble.
This is where it is helpful to remember that while the world compares you to your neighbor, God compares you only to your former self. Every day, God wants to help you improve on that person. It is a constant invitation to join him in a dynamic collaboration.
Every moment of every day, in every situation, and with every person we encounter, God wants to help you become a-better-version-of-yourself. He wants to give you the grace, the courage, the encouragement, and the passion to get past your resistance.
Just try to be the-best-version-of-yourself in this moment, and let God’s timing take care of the rest.
Going to Mass on Sunday, praying before meals, reading the Bible, sitting with a lonely friend and just listening, taking a few minutes to pray at the beginning of the day, reading a good spiritual book, going away on a retreat or pilgrimage, and serving the poor at a soup kitchen are all opportunities to grow in awareness and become a-better-version-of-ourselves. And God is there to give us the grace that we need along the way.
There is timing to becoming the-best-version-of-yourself. If you try to make an egg fly, you’re going to ruin a perfectly good egg. In the same way, God has a plan for your life and a specific timing for that plan. He wants you to be the-best-version-of-yourself today, in this moment. Not some version of yourself five years from now or five years ago. Who you are today is perfectly suited for what he wants you to do today. Don’t be like the egg that tried to fly. Just try to be the-best-version-of-yourself in this moment, and let God’s timing take care of the rest.