Finding and Living Our Best Life
In September of 2022, my wife Helen and I were traveling around the Greek Islands as part of a bike riding tour. We were traveling with around 20 other cyclists on a boat that bore a striking resemblance to a pirate ship.
At one point, our tour guide had us ride up a mountain and he then stopped us at a viewing point where we could see another island on the horizon. He told us that the island was owned by the Onassis family and then proceeded to tell us the Aristotle Onassis ”success” story. Onassis was born into poverty; he initially made his money in the tobacco black market where he then invented package cigarettes. He made a fortune. Then went on to expand his empire into shipping and became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He also had a string of failed relationships and affairs including marrying JFK’s widow, Jacqueline. The guide finished the talk by saying Onassis was reported to have said “They say money can buy love, but I want to tell you it is not true. I am the richest man in the world, but I have never found true love”.
I couldn’t help myself from raising my hand and questioning this definition of “success”. I pointed out that Onassis had invented a product that has killed millions of people and caused widespread suffering for many more, alongside never finding true love. I argued that someone who was poor but had strong connections and close relationships was in my view far more successful.
I kept thinking about this interaction over the next few days. When we arrived back in Australia, I woke up early the next morning, jet-lagged and with a concept of “finding and living our best life” in my head. Initially, for my own benefit, I developed a single diagram to capture my thinking. It showed the typical life journey following birth that starts off heading towards what I defined as our “best life” and then due to many factors, mostly negative, we are diverted. Worse still, most of us die without giving much consideration to what our best life would look like.
The definition of our “best life” that I arrived at was where we “use our talents and experiences to positively impact the world around us” and I believe this is where we experience “genuine contentment and fulfillment”.
Unfortunately, many things divert us from seeking or living to our potential. This may include advertising-led materialism, abuse, trauma, sickness, relationship breakdown, addictions, and many, many more.
There is a related Mark Twain quote that resonates with me:
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
I hope you decide to seek and then live your best life.