by Madeline Laughs
Years ago a good friend sent me a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In the front she wrote a personal note to me that read “I hope you like this book as much as I did. Thank you for a wonderful time.” I remember looking at this small book and wondering if it could change the way I thought about life. Could it correct misinformation? Would it allow me to move through the rest of my life with peace? I didn’t know that anything had that much power, but I cracked the binding and sat down to read and comprehend just exactly what Senor Ruiz had to share.
The four agreements are simplistic in their delivery. They are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
4. Always do your Best.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is not easy, my friend. In fact, it’s not even that easy for me to remember what all four of them are! Usually I can remember one of them; Always do your Best. That one seems to stick in my brain for some reason.
Be Impeccable with your Word. Mean what you say and say what you mean. I actually do practice this one without even thinking much about it anymore. I think that comes more with age and experience than with changing habits. Youth are always so worried about the exterior and how that elusive outside will affect their inside. Impeccability tends to go out the window with the bath water when you’re more concerned with what people will think of you than you are with what you think of yourself.
Even though I have an opinion and like to express it, I will show discretion about where I lay that down. A long time ago I realized that to continue to share my wealth with the masses was a waste of time. You have to YELL to be heard. That takes energy you can be spending doing something to make yourself or someone else feel good. What sounds preferable to you? So now my opinions are shared like nuggets of tasty morsels to be savored and appreciated by a fabulous dinner companion.
I am also honest. That doesn’t make me a saint. It does give me less to remember in the way of “stories” though. Hurting someone is never the object of being truthful. I think that’s where some folks need to buy a clue. There is a little thing called manners. Conduct yourself with decorum whenever you’re asked to critique someone’s world.
I shared with someone recently that words are very powerful, and they most surely are. Words can express every emotion on the planet, they can melt your heart or pierce your soul. Spoken written or signed, each and every one has it’s own orbit in our small universe. Use them wisely, use them with care.
On the flipside there are the words from others you allow in your memory chips ahoy. There is a lot to be said about that old saying “Don’t believe everything you hear”. You don’t have to move through your life as a cynic, but use caution with the words that have the ability to impact you. Being blown off your feet by something incredibly divine is always orgasmic. Being blown off your feet by something rapacious is not. No one deserves to be shot full of holes and syllables. Hold your tongue and wait for a better moment. You’ll find that this moment almost never makes a timely appearance and soon you’ll forget the anger and turmoil that generates the almighty word of hate.
Don’t Take Anything Personally. Oh yeah! I certainly struggle with this one! There are slices of my life I can recall clearly taking a word or two internally. The phrase; What the Fuck? comes to mind. Personal experience and observation allows me to share with you that everything is not always about YOU. There are always extenuating circumstances surrounding events that explode right before your eyes and sometimes they are more about the person regurgitating than they are about you.
In the book he writes about absorbing “emotional garbage” and that is exactly what you’re doing when you believe the negativity thrown in your face. Over the years I have come to understand that I am merely the mirror for someone that feels so bad about themselves they choose to attack me. When I go on the prowl for a victim to soak up my wounded pride I try to hold back the mean and deliver what I have to say with as much love as I can muster. That doesn’t always work out like I planned, but I can always go back and try again if I am so inclined. The same is true for them. Remaining open and forgiving is just as important for your piece of sanity as it is for the person that wants to try again.
Don’t make Assumptions. Another one that I struggle with, but one that I am improving on. I have been accused of over thinking. This is true. I will analyze and pick something apart until I am sure it makes sense to me. The people in my life are not always comfortable with this process, especially when they have something to hide. In earlier years I could jump to a conclusion faster than you can blink your eyes. I was always so sure I was right. Later I conceived the notion that perhaps I needed to do my homework a little better.
In relaxing the pressure I put on myself to be “right” I also allowed myself the comfort of sometimes being wrong. Being right is not always the preferable outcome. There are times when being right hurts so much more than being wrong. This can be a double edged sword so be careful removing it from your belt unless you’re prepared to get cut.
Finally my favorite and the one that stays with me everyday I wake up breathing; Always Do your Best. What does that mean? So pure in it’s message and yet so hard to comprehend what our best truly is. Your best will never be the same as mine, or as his, or as theirs. It is singularly individual and as unique as the nose on your face. It is Yours and should be discovered and nurtured as a child to the breast. As Senor Ruiz points out our best can change with the blowing of the wind, so you can not expect it to always be just the one thing you should heed for all of your days.
Those are the four agreements as I interpret them. Find a copy of this small book and read it for yourself. Let me know your thoughts and if this set of guidelines changes your perspective of how you’d like to spend the rest of your days here. I’d love to hear from you.
Everyone is born with the right to be happy.
~Don Miguel Ruiz
- Does unconditional love exist? (leeklover.wordpress.com)
- Impeccability, it’s easier (love-simple.com)
- Sharpening Your Saw…Summer Reading List (Non-Fiction) (danasmycoach.wordpress.com)
- When do you know you’ve truly forgiven? (myonepercentaday.wordpress.com)
- The Idiot’s Guide to Dealing With Idiots (psychcentral.com)
- My favorite quotes…… (lovingkarma.com)
- Be Impeccable with Your Word (karunamettacat.wordpress.com)
- Saying Something Nice – How Hard Is It? (thisoldcrone.wordpress.com)
- CrossFit Twist (crossfitovercome.com)