101 Ways to Wellness
SIX : The Four Agreements
For those of you that tune in regularly, you may have been eagerly awaiting my exploration of “The Element” by Ken Robinson. That was indeed a transformational book and will definitely be included in this series, but I was reminded this week of another book that I felt was more appropriate for all that is going on in our world (or at least my world) these days.
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, is a book of wisdom passed down from the ancient Toltec society of Mexico after Ruiz had a near death experience and began his own journey of self-inquiry and study into these ancient traditions. While this is a short book, it is filled with rich pieces of wisdom, and well worth the read from cover to cover.
Here I will just provide you with a brief glimpse into what the Four Agreements suggest as “a practical guide to personal freedom:”
1) Be Impeccable With Your Word: The idea is to focus your thoughts and words toward things that uplift you and others. Our words can be one of the most powerful forces in shaping how we view ourselves and how we are viewed by others and can literally change the course of our lives. So choose wisely, and strive to align your words with truth and speak from a place of love.
2) Don’t Take Anything Personally: For me, this may be one of the most important and most challenging concepts to truly embed one’s life. As Ruiz says: “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…” When you can truly believe and accept this in your heart, there is a wonderful sense of freedom from not always being reactive to the world around you. The next time you find yourself hurt or frustrated by the words or actions of a friend or loved one, try reminding yourself that it all truly has nothing to do with you. It has been quite the gift for me when I can remember this truth!
3) Don’t Make Assumptions: This agreement focuses on communication – ask for what you want, take the time to truly understand others, and try to remember the concept of “beginner’s mind” that we discussed in the tenets of mindfulness. Don’t ever assume that you know someone’s story or that you can anticipate or understand their thoughts and needs without making some effort to explore them firsthand.
4) Always Do Your Best: This is something we may have first heard in Kindergarten, but the concept is tried and true. Many of us spend way too much time in self-doubt, judgment, and even regret. The simple anecdote to this is giving your best at each given moment. The key to this tenet is to allow your best to be fluid – when you are depleted emotionally or physically do not expect to perform as you do at your peak! Being true to yourself as you are in each present moment will allow you to put forth whatever your best entails at that time.
For this week, choose one agreement and post it on your mirror and see if it changes your views and actions in your daily life. If you like what you see, add in another agreement when you are ready and watch the transformations take place!
From wellness coach Julie Marks, Phd.