In 1997, Don Miguel Ruiz came out with a book called "The Four Agreements" - a best seller on the NYTimes Bestseller list for over 8 years. Ruiz says "Everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth." The Four Agreements are:
- 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.)
- 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 view yourself as a victim of needless suffering.)
- 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.)
- Always do your best. (Your best can 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.)
Recently, Ruiz wrote "The Fifth Agreement." In it, he adds
5. Be skeptical, but learn to listen. (Understand that everyone has his or her own perspective and agenda reflected in their words. It is up to us to discern the truth behind the words, but always to be respectful of another's right to his or her views, even if we don't share them. Each of us is the artist of our own life, the director of our own play, and we can make it an adventure or a drama - heaven or hell, it's up to us.)
AND NUMBER 6:
Always keep your sense of humor (or develop one). We all live each day with uncertainty. We can face anger, rage, worry, panic. None of it easy during difficult times. But when things are so serious, it's really good to give yourself a break and smile and laugh. It may help you get through the day. Humor can be a great antidote so try to be around upbeat friends. These people can lighten your mood. Find them, listen to them and see how they can change their perspective and yours. Or read a funny book. Watch Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart if politics really gets you down. They have a way of making you laugh in the midst of the craziness going on around you.
These are some great agreements to live by. We, all of us, can benefit from incorporating these ideas into our everyday life. The Fifth agreement is deceptively simple, yet incredibly profound. While the first four agreements deal with our relationship to ourselves and how to create a happy life, the fifth agreement deals with our relationship to others, and how to create a better world.
It's a good start if you want to make a difference in your own life or the lives of others.