Sometimes I think our obsession with superlatives actually hinders our enjoyment of things.
“BEST. DAY. EVER.”
“BEST. BOYFRIEND. EVER.”
“BEST. FOOD. EVER.”
I’ve encountered plenty such statements (and their negative counterparts) both in conversation and on social media. If I’m being honest, I haven’t been immune to expressing that sort of thing myself.
The trouble with making everything a superlative is that the “BEST ________ EVER” becomes the standard by which we measure all similar experiences. We’re judging whether this piece of chocolate is a god among confections, rather than simply enjoying the chocolate for what it is. And if this chocolate is not a god among chocolates, whether we realize it or not, our experience is tainted by some hint of disappointment, some sense that we did not get as much enjoyment as we could have.
Maybe it’s a quirk of Western culture, which thrives on competition, on striving for the best. Striving, of course, is not a fault in itself; it’s how we progress. But every virtue can become a vice without moderation, and especially in an era when individual happiness is the highest good, moderation often falls by the wayside. Temperance means self-denial, delayed gratification, neither of which are in vogue in a world that insists we must have the BEST, and we must have it NOW.
At the heart, the need for things to be the best is, most often, rooted in discontentment.
It’s a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. And I wonder how often in our striving for the BEST, we completely miss out on what is good. We miss the worth of good things for our discontentment that they are not what we perceive as the best things.
What does it matter whether you are the most beautiful, or even whether you are more or less beautiful than someone else? You are beautiful.
What does it matter whether this is the most moving song you have ever heard? It moves you. Let it move you without comparing it to another song.
What does it matter whether this is the sweetest fruit you have ever tasted? It is sweet, and that is important enough regardless of whether another fruit is sweeter.
What does it matter whether this is the best day you have ever had? There will be other days that will be both worse and better; appreciate this day for what it is.