Freddie and the Four Agreements
No, I didn’t start a band. I started a resolution: to practice the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, year-round. Let me tell you about the Four Agreements. But first, let me tell you about my friend Tony.
Tony’s a pretty cool guy, and he’s pretty smart. He’s the friend I seek out when I need to talk about life, and how best to live it. He’s brimming with interesting, philosophical, mind-blowing concepts. “The unexamined life is not worth living” kind of stuff, ya know? The last time we hung out, we debated Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a few hours and walked away feeling enlightened. Everyone should have a friend like Tony.
Anyway, Tony posted about these Four Agreements on Facebook, and because I hold Tony in such high esteem, I checked ‘em out. Here’s how the first agreement goes:
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.
I read this and immediately thought, “I want to do this. Every part of it.” For years I’ve tried to ‘underpromise and overdeliver’, but I always fail. Too often I extend myself past reasonable expectations, letting down the people who trust in me. Wouldn’t it be simpler, instead of rushing to fulfill every commitment, to be more discerning with promises in the first place? I don’t know when I started devaluing my promises, but it’s something I want to take back. And if, along the way, I can stop throwing myself under the bus and cut down those occasional bits of gossip, all the better. At first I planned only to pursue this first agreement, since I connected with it so strongly. The more I thought about it, though, the more incomplete that seemed. That’s when I decided to investigate the next three agreements:
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
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 misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. 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.
So there you have it, the Four Agreements. As far as resolutions go, it feels refreshing. In past years, I had giant, looming goals to complete before December 31. This year, by contrast, I just have to stay present. I’m committing to a way of living, not a finite achievement. If I fail in any given moment, it’s cool, I just have to pick myself back up and keep going. Is this easier said than done? Yes. But that’s what I’m looking forward to about the whole undertaking; to do what I say, to live proactively instead of reactively, and to keep it simple.
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