Q: You often talk about a "best self" and the ways people should either live that themselves or permit others to do so. I can guess what a best self might be, but I wonder what your definition is.
A: It's when you like yourself.
Or, when you're getting the most out of your strengths and succumbing the least to your weaknesses. It's highly personal, but here are some ideas for cultivating strength:
Are you doing things that are meaningful to you; well-suited to your interests, skills and talents; and challenging enough to keep you humble?
Are you with people to whom you want to be kind; who reinforce your good choices; and who don't inspire persistent doubts about whether they're dependable, genuinely fond of you, free of ulterior motives, honest with you?
Are you that person to those you love?
Do you take responsibility for your choices and their consequences?
Do you honor your promises and commitments, to yourself and others?
When you are impressed by, grateful to or concerned about someone, do you show it?
Do you forgive?
Do you take care of yourself? And do you put yourself first in ways that sustain you, to minimize your burdening of others?
When you're unsure, do you admit that and seek help?
Since all of these questions hinge on solid self-awareness, I'd call Step 1 a brutally honest assessment of what you bring to the party — and how you're most likely to wreck it.