Several years ago, I came upon a book that had a very profound influence on my thinking. The book was “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz. The book came to me through serendipity, which made it that much more meaningful. I was reading an “Oprah” magazine and there was an article about Ellen Degeneres and how the book and Mr. Ruiz impacted her life. The next day, I received one of my book club pamphlets and it was advertising a sale on the book. Bingo! I bought the book and haven’t looked back.
In the book, Mister Ruiz teaches us four principles to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. He states that adopting and committing to these agreements is simple, but actually living and keeping the them can be one of the hardest things you will ever do. But if you apply the Agreements to your life, it can also be one of he most life changing things you will ever do. And so it was for me.
I would like to state those Four Agreements here and will give a commentary on what that particular agreement meant to me and did for me. They are as follows:
1. “Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”
Words have power. And, as I’ve discovered, the words you speak tell a lot about your character. I still have issues about saying only what I mean, sometimes, because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do know that I have come to despise gossip. Gossip is when someone says something negative about someone or bad mouths them. When someone gossips, it says way more about the person doing the gossiping than the person they are gossiping about. According to Mr. Ruiz, gossip is literally poison, and I agree. I’ve known people who can’t say a good word about anyone or anything. What I’ve found is that these people hate themselves so much, and have such low self-esteem, that the only way they can make themselves feel any better is to put someone else down. What you need to know, is that a lot of times, when you gossip, what you said will get back to the person you are gossiping about. Gossiping is just another form of bullying. Can gossip be good when you’re saying something good about someone? Maybe. My rule is that if that person wants others to know about something, they will be the ones to tell people, therefore, I keep my mouth shut. Am I perfect in not gossiping? I have to admit there are times that someone gets to ruffling my goat’s feathers so much that I just end up venting to a friend, but even then, I know that I’m better off keeping silent. This also goes towards the words we speak towards ourselves. It goes back to the saying that you become what you think.
2. “Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
This one was a big lesson for me. I used to take EVERYthing personally. Someone would look at me cross-eyed, and I would take it personally. Sometimes I can get very frustrated with human nonsense, especially if it were directed towards me. Once I learned this lesson, I knew that nothing anyone does or says is about me; it’s all about them. What they say or do still might sting, but I can usually talk my way through it. People say and do what they say and do based on their own belief systems and their past experiences.
3. “Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
This was another biggie for me. To give you example… On my last job, there were a couple of people who would sometimes completely ignore me. I would be passing them in the hall, and they wouldn’t return my greeting or my smile. I used to get in a snit, but after learning this one, I knew there was a bigger picture. Maybe they had something else on their mind and didn’t really think about acknowledging me or maybe they didn’t even notice me. Maybe they were shy, or intimidated by me. As in the second Agreement, it had nothing to do with me (even if it did). It was their choice to respond the way they did regardless of the reasons. I’m only responsible for my own thoughts and actions. Plus, in order to be in an important relationship, you have got to be brutally honest with the other person, though you can be kind at the same time. Just be totally honest.
4. “Always Do Your Best: Doing your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
That’s all you can do. The best you can with what you know at the time. If you realize that all anyone can do is the best they can, then it helps to take the judgment out of it. We don’t know why anyone says or does the things they do. As I said earlier, there is always a bigger picture. All decisions people make are based on their up-bringing, their beliefs, and their experiences. Many times, there are things in our subconscious minds and we don’t have a clue why we make the choices we do. But they are still choices and we need to be accountable for the consequences of those choices. So, lighten up on yourself, and realize that you’re doing the best you can with what you know at the time. The only mistakes are when you don’t learn from them. Otherwise, they are just lessons.
If you’re interested in learning more, please read the book “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz. Or, go to his website at: http://www.miguelruiz.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6:the-four-agreements&catid=13:books&Itemid=7