Living Your Best Life Is Actually Not About You At All, It’s About Others


Everywhere on the internet you’ll read about ‘living your best life,’ or ‘living the life you’ve always imagined’ or just ‘living a good freaking life’ and although all these articles and posts and Instagram photos and blogs and advice columns have our best intentions in mind, they’re narrowly focused.

They see our issues with our unsatisfactory lives as something we can fix on our own, as stemming from ourselves and changed by ourselves. And so they focus primarily, if not solely, how we can improve individually. How our existence can become better, and even more self-centered.

But all these ‘wise words of advice’ are missing one, huge detail:

Living your best life isn’t about you. At all. It’s actually about others.

Yesterday morning I was sitting in church, doodling on the corner of my weekly handout and thinking about the idea of truly loving others. The sermon was focused on generosity, how we, as Christians need to be generous with what we have because God is so generous with us.

The pastor stopped me in my tracks with a powerful verse:

“What do you have that you didn’t receive?”

— 1 Corinthians 4:7

Pointing to the fact that even in all we have gained, earned, and worked for, we still were given these bodies, still given life. It was not something we didn’t receive from God. Then the pastor said this: Generosity comes from a place of surrender, not surplus.

That stuck with me. I think so often our culture is consumed with our goals and our dreams. We live under the motivational phrases of ‘just do it’ or ‘this is MY year,’ or even things like ‘live your best life’ which seem so encouraging, but are really only focusing on how we can make our own lives better…for ourselves.

We live in a world that’s so selfishly-focused. That’s so quick to say me, me, me and soak up every resource for our own benefit. That truly believes living a good life is doing and getting everything we want out of it.

But generosity—What does it mean to be generous in a world that sees selfishness as power?

I spun the pastor’s line over and over in my head. Generosity comes from a place of surrender, not surplus. Meaning that we are giving when we are willing to let go of what we have—tangible or intangible—and give to others, even if we don’t have what we think is a ‘lot’. It means giving the resources, the ‘things,’ and the time we have to others without expecting anything in return.

Generosity means blessing others, freely and willingly. And in turn finding true happiness and purpose.

See, that’s what I believe is wrong with the ‘live your best life’ goals. There’s absolutely nothing negative about motivating ourselves, about striving for the best version of who we are, and about self-improvement in general, but there has to be an importance on what we can do for others. On what we can give back to a world that has blessed us with so incredibly much.

A truly good life is a selfless life.

A life that gives to others, that sees other people as important, that values things and people outside of a personal bubble. It doesn’t mean taking a back seat to your own needs and desires, but it means seeing that there is a whole world outside those needs and wants.

It means stepping outside of yourself to see that other people want to live their best lives too, but sometimes can’t and need our help.

Living your best life means living a life that is generous, that cares about other people and tries to help them achieve their goals, too.

A life that gives because God has given so much to us. Or even in a non-religious sense, giving because we are so fortunate with the things and relationships we have.

I love the idea of ‘living my best life,’ of being this human with a useful, purposeful existence that is headed in the right direction and growing every single day. But sitting in church yesterday, writing verses on my pages with my loopy, hard-to-read handwriting, I realized that I want to live a life that is not only good to me, but that blesses others.

A good life for not only myself, but for the people around me.

I’m not quite sure how to do that yet, but I know it means thinking of people outside myself, how I can be generous to them monetarily, physically, emotionally, or just with my time.

It means re-reading this verse for inspiration:

“What do you have that you didn’t receive?”

— 1 Corinthians 4:7

It means trusting in God to guide me in the right direction.

It means thinking of what I can DO rather than what I can GAIN.

And it means not looking so much inwardly, but outwardly. Believing that I am important, not because I am who I am, but because I can make an impact on someone else.

And in all honesty, that’s a better life than I ever imagined. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

Keep up with Marisa on Instagram, Twitter, Amazon and

More From Thought Catalog