The celebration of Bastille Day last week inspired the usual rash of articles on how to be more like a French woman with even the New York Times chiming in with advice on how to age like the Frenchies. This came on the heels of my reading a passage in The Happiness Project about the sadness of being one's self. The whole thing got me thinking: what's so wrong with just being you?
The French, as we've been told repeatedly, know how to dress, eat, and age better than we do. The Italians know how to seduce, the Danes know how to be happy. And it's not just cultural emulation. We want Jennifer Aniston's legs, and Cher's house. We want to know what Gwyneth Paltrow eats and how Christina Hendricks stays so freakin' gorgeous. Why don't we just want to be ourselves?
Author Gretchen Rubin argues that there is a certain sadness to being ourselves. In just being us, we resign to live only one life and work within our own limitations. Being ourselves means admitting we will never be an acrobat, an astronaut, or a Jane Austen heroine.
Granted, I pen a blog called Real-Life Makeover that includes lots of advice on how to live a better life and how to be your best self. To some, that might seem confusing. But that's just how I see it: being your best self. Not a celebrity's best self, not your best friend's best self, but your own.
Fact-finding can be really helpful. Learning how someone else manages to get dinner on the table every night or looks chic on a budget can help inform what might work for us. The trouble, it seems, comes when we want to cast off what makes us uniquely us in order to live some grass-is-greener version of someone else's life.
Being your best self is harder than it sounds. It's a matter or tuning in rather than looking out. What brings you a sense of fulfillment, confidence, and pride? When are you your happiest? What legacy do you want to leave behind? It seems doubtful that the secrets of French women on banishing cellulite will help you be your most authentic self. But they certainly are fun.
What do you think? Is there a sadness to being ourselves? Do we just want to be distracted from our own lives?
More from Real-Life Makeover:
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- 5 ways to get a better perspective
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