I would like to share with you one of the best spiritual books I have ever read. The book is called The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz and it had a great impact on my life. TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recommended it to Oprah Winfrey, who was so impressed with the book, that she recommended it to her viewers. Consequently, I immediately purchased and read the book.
Below, I will state the agreements and then tell you how they affected me when I worked on practicing them in my own life.
“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.”
If you have read my past columns, you know how powerful our words and thoughts are. Watching the words we speak is never easy and it takes a LOT of practice to become mindful of what comes out of our mouth or the thoughts we think. One thing I try to never do is to say anything negative about someone else. I’m not 100%, but I continue to work on it. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I despise gossip. If someone starts people bashing, I will immediately stick up for that person or group of people, change the subject, or leave the conversation. Gossip is poison and it reflects more on the person doing the gossiping than the person they are gossiping about.
“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.”
I used to take everything personally. If someone didn’t react the way I thought they should, I would wonder why they were treating me that way. It’s true in that what other people do has nothing to do with you; it was about their stuff and how they were projecting that stuff onto you. Rev. Terry Cole-Whittaker has a great book called “What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business,” which I would also recommend reading.
“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.”
It is so easy for us to make assumptions. If an assumption crosses my mind, my inner Spirit asks, “Do I know this for a fact?” No, I don’t. If I think there was a misunderstanding or if someone might be upset with me, I ask them. Sometimes I have to work up a lot of courage to ask, but it’s better to find out than to fume over what could be nothing.
“Always Do Your Best ~ 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.”
I like this one. You can only do the best you can with what you know at the time. That goes for everyone. Even when someone screws up, they were more than likely only doing the best they could, with what they knew at the time. Their best is based on their upbringing, beliefs, experiences, etc. We never know a person’s state of mind. It also makes it easier not to judge people because you realize they were only doing the best they could with what they knew. When we’re not feeling well or we’re feeling negative, it’s easy not to do our best, but we still did the best we could at that time. Once you understand this agreement for yourself and others, you can find compassion and understanding, and not be so judgmental. As Oprah says, “If you could do better, you would do better.”
If you practice these four agreements and apply them to your lives, you will find that your life will go so much smoother and you will find more peace in your daily living. I know I have.
(The Four Agreements, Copyright © 1997 by Miguel Angel Ruiz, M.D. All rights reserved. Published by Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc., San Rafael, CA, U.S.A., Agreements printed with permission.)