In the world of merchandising, “new and improved” is the popular catch phrase. We are a society that is always looking for the next best thing and new and improved just screams at us to get rid of the one we already own and buy its new and improved version. Nowhere is this more evident than in the electronics we own. Why else would the masses stand in a line that stretches around the block to buy the next cell phone release. I am always amazed and then humbled when I run into someone still using a flip phone. I am amazed that they haven’t fallen in step with the new and improved line but I am humbled when it is clearly demonstrated that their flip phone works just fine. If anything, I am envious that while they are less connected to the world, they are still functioning and more importantly, with a lot less stress. Admit it, you are probably reading this right now on your cell phone and feeling the burning need to check your emails and text messages, check the market on the internet and even get a little face time on Facebook. You are connected. But the guy with the flip phone, maybe not as connected electronically, still has that cool “Star Trek” look and hell, Captain Kirk was hip.
The message here is that we are always looking for the “best” in everything. We originally used our cars to get from point A to point B. Nowadays, they can do that on their own. I am willing to bet that if you look at the interior of your car, you could comfortably live in there. We electronicaly lock and unlock our car, run all the accessories from that 400 positions heated driver’s seat, start the car without a key and even do that from the comfort of our office. We can let it park itself and while it is effortlessly doing that, place a call, hands free with our best friends. Don’t get me wrong, I know this because I have one of those. And I like it when that sultry voice says “recalculating”.
So if we want the best in the things we own, my question is what about us? I mean am I the best version of myself? Consider how great life would be if every once in a while we were new and improved. Is that even possible and how would we know? Who would be the judge of that? Who records our progress?
Lets first consider the parameters. We can try to improve throughout our life and in fact we generally do as long as we are even remotely paying attention to the cues around us. The problem is we are human. As such we will have good days, even great days, but unfortunately we will also have days that just never come together for us. So lets be realistic, there will be days where we just aren’t the best version of ourselves. We are a flip phone when we were striving for the smart phone with the incredibly bright screen and beautiful memory taking camera. But here in lies the secret. If we have the capacity to continue to improve then there never really will be a point in time when we are THEE BEST version of ourselves. After knee surgery, the physical therapists would begin each session by asking me to rate my pain and then to let him or her know if during the week the pain had ever hit the top of the scale at ten. My response was how would I know? What if I claimed it had and then suddenly I experienced something that went beyond? Worse yet, way beyond. Being the best version of ourself is for that day and that point in time. If we decided we were, then the task would be to never waiver but the tendency might be “well that’s it, I’ve done it and now I can quit working at it.” I told each of my physical therapists that I was reserving the ten rating for my tombstone which would proudly proclaim “That was the ten. And then I died.”
The beauty of the argument is that each day begins anew and offers us the chance to be the best version for that day. If we would approach each new day with that resolve, what great things could we accomplish? Being the best version of ourselves starts as a commitment to having a positive can do and want to do attitude. Armed with that attitude we then focus on what we do with our energy and talents. Maybe we just finish something we have been putting off. Maybe we help someone else resolve a problem by helping with the solution. Perhaps we just are there for someone when they needed a someone to be there. It turns out that we are the judge of our character but the universe is the echo of just how good we were. If we listen for and hear that echo, then at that moment, at that time, by our actions, we were the best version of ourselves. Once we experience even one day of feeling that sense of achievement, we need to repeat the process and practice will bring progress. Who knows, over time we may even be “new and improved.”
I think I need to wrap this up for now. It’s getting late and I still need to get in line for that new Samsung 9. I heard it really is new and improved and who wouldn’t want that. Go be the best version of yourself for the rest of the day and then try to stretch it into the rest of the week. But remember this, never stop listening for the echo.