“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
I think this quote is a great place to start the last of my blog series based on author Don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements. Here are the agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
The idea is that if you are always trying to do your best then you are creating habits that keep you practicing being impeccable with your words, not taking anything personally and not making assumptions.
In order for your day to take shape, to live and to breathe you have to first wake up and then get out of bed. Everything you do once out of bed is up to you alone. You can decide with your very first step that today is going to be a better day than yesterday or an even better day than yesterday. You can decide that whatever challenges you faced yesterday will be met with more courage today.
Whatever you decide to do with your life minutes today give each one of them purpose and meaning and significance by being the change you want to see. EVERYTHING starts with you.
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
To look at my daughter you would never know that she struggles with having real, true, honest friendships in her life. Oh, she knows a lot of people and is always busy but true, trustworthy friendships, the kind that last a lifetime, are hard to come by. In my biased opinion she is life. She is always busy working at a job she likes that affords her the opportunity to meet new people and forge new acquaintances, she is attending classes at college that feed her imagination and desire to learn, she is going out with people during her personal time that she chooses to spend time with, and she volunteers her time to causes she feels connected to. Yet, through all of her activities and busyness she feels a sense of not belonging and at times a sense of loneliness.
I can’t imagine anyone having a hard time relating to this. There are times in our lives when we just feel like we are so disconnected from everyone and that we just can’t seem to find a place where we belong. When she starts to get down on herself for some unnamed flaw she thinks she has the only question I can ask her is, “are you doing your best today?”
What does your best look like?
Does your best look like smiling even when you don’t feel it? Does your best look like dropping all your to-do’s and helping a friend in need? Does your best look like getting take out for dinner so that you have more time to spend with the kids at night?
No matter what you are involved in during your day or week or month or life, always bring and do the best you can. No one, not even you, can ask more of you than your best and you will always walk away feeling good about yourself. Your legacy in every life moment is left behind in your wake when you give the best you can.
What if my best is not up to my standards because I’m not feeling like myself? That can happen at any time. Don Miguel Ruiz says,
“In your everyday moods your best can change from one moment to another, from one hour to the next, from one day to another. Your best will also change over time. Just do your best in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself harshly.”
How do you treat yourself, your work or your relationships?
This is an important question toward always doing your best because when you like yourself and treat yourself well you know the end result of what you want others to feel from you. Bringing your best self to your life moments means that you have the potential to bring out the best in someone else.
Here is Don Miguel,
“When you do your best you learn to accept yourself by learning from your mistakes and practicing toward increased awareness. Doing your best really doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy whatever you are doing. You do your best because you want to do it, not because you have to do it and not because you are trying to please anyone. You are taking action because you enjoy the action. It becomes about living fully.”
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
What are your core values, your character strengths?
When you are in the flow of a project or experience and lose track of time what actions are you taking that align with your values?
For me it is writing. I lose track of time and space when I am writing and reading and researching. I enjoy the discovery process and I enjoy what I am able to share with anyone who chooses to read what I’ve written. My values are enlisted when I am writing in such ways as authenticity; I never write what I myself am not interested in knowing more about, compassion; I always write about topics that I have experienced and want to share with others, and gratitude; I always write with gratitude for the life lessons I have learned or lessons I am still learning.
In the end Don Miguel says,
“The first three agreements will only work if you do your best. Your habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind.
- Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally
- Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption
But you can certainly, always, in all of these agreements, DO YOUR BEST.”
So the question is, how do we even get started on creating our best selves?
In the words of one of my favorite songs by the band Journey, “be good to yourself”. Only you can determine the many ways in which you can show love to yourself. For me, being good to myself shows up in cooking or baking or taking a time out to read in bed at night or writing.
In all things find a reason to say thank you. In the course of just one day whether the day overall was good or bad there is always at least one thing to be grateful for. I know my day was not a total waste when I can say a soulful thank you for something and connect with my own humility.
Ask for guidance. This guidance may come from a trusted friend or clergy, it may come from a beloved sibling or parent or it may simply come from the universe. The point is to ask. We don’t know all the answers so putting the questions out there may help us get clear on what to do next. Staying curious and open to new perspectives is one way to help create our best self.
Let go of expectations. Let go of your version of how something should turn out; let go of trying to control any outcome. See what happens when you do your best and the result is not what you expected. See what comes of a new experience or new perspective. What did you learn? How did you grow?
Mind your words. It matters very much the talking you do inside of your head and heart. Who do you love the most? Talk to yourself the way you talk to the one you love; hold yourself in the same love that you hold that special someone; believe in you the same way you wholeheartedly believe in the one you love.
Call to Action
Here is a different kind of call to action this week. I leave you with a prayer from Don Miguel Ruiz. Practice this prayer every day as often as you can until you believe in every single word:
“Thank you Creator of the universe, for the gift of life you have given me.
Thank you for giving me everything that I have ever truly needed.
Thank you for the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind.
Thank you for living inside me with all your love, with your pure and boundless spirit, with your warm and radiant light.
Thank you for using my words, for using my eyes, for using my heart to share your love wherever I go.
I love you just the way you are, and because I am your creation, I love myself just the way I am.
Help me to keep the love and the peace in my heart and to make that love a new way of life, that I may live in love the rest of my life. Amen.”