It’s July. We have a small but growing sense of hindsight on the EU referendum. Westminster is a shambles but Nicola Sturgeon has her shit firmly together. Opinion in the UK, as we never stop being told, is fractured and divided but we are starting to get our heads around Brexit.
The result had scarcely been announced when the hand-wringing started and a severe case of melodrama took hold of every pro-Remain news outlet and the 48%. Unapologetic gloating ensued on the part of the Leavers. Updates pinged every other minute on millions of smartphones.
The ink had no chance to dry on these initial reactions before a second wave of opinion pieces and social media hype rolled in. Pragmatic, cool-headed people who seemed unruffled by the result were scathing of what they saw as a complete overreaction from the media and the public.
Let’s not knock anyone’s outpouring of emotion or snide their demonstrations of dismay or triumph. Yes, some of the post-Brexit feeling was verging on the hysterical, fuelled by increasingly hyperbolic news coverage as the major papers competed to put out the most sensational headline. But there is a bright side – when before have so many people on this scepter’d isle been so passionately engaged in politics?
I believe passionate journalism, social media activism, marches, demonstrations and debates all have their place in navigating this brave new post-Brexit world. But maybe the most practical and useful course of action is to supplement these collaborative and communicative efforts with a bit of self-awareness. Gandhi tells us to be the change we wish to see in the world. The late, great MJ advised us to start with the man (or woman) in the mirror.
To this, I’m going to add my new maxim: live your best life. Stay with me – it may sound trite and cheesy at first but it’s worth exploring what it could mean in practice to live your best life. It could be a way to actually take back control and feel calm in the midst what appears to be political meltdown. Not in a ‘Brexity’ way, not with rhetoric or speeches, but with simple, everyday actions.
Living your best life puts you in charge and renounces the fatalistic belief that everything happens for a reason. It’s useful in any life choice, from deciding to switch off from Twitter for an hour to weighing up which candidate deserves your vote in an election. It is ambiguous enough to be flexible as the best way forward at any one time depends on myriad internal and external factors.
On one evening, living your best life might mean dragging yourself out of a well of self-pity, pouring a large glass of wine and asking how your friend’s day was. On the next it could be acknowledging that an evening in and an early night is exactly what you need. I’ve been living my best life for four days now and I actually feel better. I have definitely made good decisions – mainly small ones but meaningful ones nonetheless.
Like it or not, we’re all plugged into a stream of continual information overload encouraging us to pick a team, declare for a side, slot into a category. In doing this we allow ourselves to be drawn into a battle against all the other factions. Maybe it’s good to ignore it all for just a moment and look inwards instead to focus on the nuances and complexities that make up a life.