“People like to say that the conflict is between good and evil. The real conflict is between truth and lies.” - Don Miguel Ruiz
The author Don Miguel Ruiz had an interesting upbringing. His circumstances had placed him in between the diverging worlds of Mexican Toltec traditions and modern Western views of the world. Though is journey was long and required much introspection, he eventually came to trust in his destiny and unveiled some applicable wisdom in his book the Four Agreements. The Toltec wisdom offers a powerful code of conduct that can transform our lives into a happier way of being. The message is simple and easy to use on a daily basis. The Lifestyle Project wanted to provide a short summary of his principles.
1. Be impeccable with your word
Our words are important. What we say and how we say things can be interpreted in so many different ways. We don’t think about it much, but our words are the currency of trust. We exchange countless bits of information through our interactions and our words are the bridge of confidence in between actions. We use them to communicate our intentions with others so that the world can continue to operate in an orderly manner. We dictate our entire world views and our own mood based off of the words we speak to ourselves. Like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, our words can send messages of hope around the world. We think that we are all aware of some examples of the opposite.
The point is, we have to do what we say. We can no longer afford to squander our promises to ourselves or to others. It is true that actions speak louder than words, but our words can express the sensory result of the experience. As a result the words can inspire further action and than we get positive feedback loops of endless potential. One word at a time, we can build up a beautiful world of peace and trust.
2. Don’t make assumptions
We are wrong more often than we think! An assumption is a guess based off of our previous exposure to similar situations. Our brain wants to process the information before us in a way that is as efficient as possible and sometimes this means shortcutting. Shortcutting allows us to make decisions more quickly so that we can go about our jolly ganders as comfortably as possible! Lets make something clear though, an assumption is different than knowledge. Knowledge is confirmed already whereas an assumption is still unsure.
We probably do it all the time, and largely unconsciously. We may see somebody whose appearance doesn’t fit ours and we may project a made up personality on them. We may not communicate with someone properly and begin to invent stories in our head without really hearing their side of things. Assuming definitely makes things easier, but it doesn’t make things work properly. We can all do a better job of checking our assumptions by stepping back from our autopilot. When we take the time to understand things how they actually are, we will be pleasantly surprised more often than we could have guessed!
3. Don’t take things personally
Too often our Egos get in our way and we get a bit swept up with our own lives. Our goal is to survive and it is important to take care of ourselves. It wasn’t long ago that we thought that the earth was the center of the universe as well. We are all part of something a lot bigger than just ourselves, and every human is going through some sort of struggle. We interpret the actions and reactions of other people in way that helps us navigate the world better ourselves. Sometimes the negative actions of others can affect our entire day. Maybe somebody cuts you off in traffic, or someone gives a rude reply when you are ordering your coffee. True, some people are not conscious of their faults, but sometimes they are just having a difficult time dealing with the everyday sadness that everyone can experience.
Life is beautiful but everyone is still trying to figure it out and it is not always easy. It is hard not to take things personally sometimes. We care and so it is normal to have some self-reflective dialogues. The important thing is to be kind to one another and acknowledge that we have defects ourselves. By not taking things personally all the time, we are not only able to continue living a more relaxed life but we are also better able to empathize with others. Empathy creates connection, and we all wanted to feel more connected.
4. Always do your best
We set our own standards. Deep down inside of us, we all know our own true potentials and this is what we aim for. Nobody is in this themselves and everyone benefits from the actions of everybody else but we can only take responsibilities for our own actions. Our societies admire the “best” in each field. We love to idolize the best of athletes, the most wonderful artists and the most eloquent of scholars. We look up to them because they have all found a way to express their potentials in such a beautiful way. We can relate to their greatness deep down and we are all aware of our own possibilities, and this is the essence of inspiration. When we are lucky enough to be graced by the fulfillment of others, we want to live more fully ourselves.
The important thing is not to compare ourselves. It is always good to look at the accomplishments of others as a mere reminder of our own possibilities. Everyone gets to run their own race, everyone gets to reach their own levels of greatness. We have to be kind to ourselves in our ambitious pursuits, but whatever it is that we do, we just have to do our best. In the end, you are the only one who can judge your actions. Always do your best and leave it all on the field.
Ruiz has offered 4 agreements for us to consider. It is up to us now to do what we wish with them.
Let’s change the way we travel, together.
The Lifestyle Project