Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dylan Broggio, LCSW, EWN therapist.
A few losing games of ‘Paper, Scissors, Rocks’ with my husband, and I was tripping over my bottom lip all the way to the laundromat to do the dreaded chore of washing comforters (boo hoo).
Feeling sorry for myself and beckoning the dryer to for-the-love-of-God! DRY FASTER! – I spotted a woman with a copy of “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
OH. MY. GOOD. THAT BOOK! We instantly struck up a lengthy conversation about the utter simplicity and sheer depth of these teachings. It was so impactful that we both re-read the book every few years for a refresher on how to simply live happier. Stress, depression, relationships, family issues, anxiety, job stress, you name it – this book taps into all of them and you close the book feeling lighter and, dare I say, happier? So, I took this serendipitous moment as a sign it was the perfect time to review it (holiday season stress and all) and share it with you…
The Four Agreements. Taken from ancient Toltec wisdom of the native people of southern Mexico:
1. Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say what you mean, and only that. Recognize that your words are powerful; they can make you feel great or crummy. Be aware of what you say to yourself and toward others, and work to eliminate negativity. This is the simplest and also the most difficult to uphold. Try it out for just one day!
2. Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is based on what is going on in their worlds, not yours. So, if your boss is being short and inconsiderate in a meeting, don’t assume it is because of you. It is most likely something going on with her, and that is her’s to own.
3. Don’t make assumptions. We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. However, when we do that we’re making things true in our minds that aren’t necessarily true at all. This causes a lot of suffering in the mean time. Don’t assume. Instead, clarify. Ask questions. Communicate as clearly as possible to avoid miscommunications, stress and unnecessary drama.
4. Always do your best. That old saying we hear our teachers and parents say “just do your best”, is actually super important as adults too. By doing your best in any given situation, you avoid any self blame, judgment and regret. Go easy on yourself too. Know that your “best” will be different in times of stress or illness than times when all is going smoothly.
There we go! Four ways to create a happier life. Sounds simple right? A book you can read in two hours and only four agreements? Sure, done. Next?
Well, I will say that as simple as they sound, it does take some work, awareness and willingness to change your thoughts and actions. Hence the rereading (a.k.a. kick-in-the-pants) once a year or so. 😉
Try just one out for a day, even half a day, and see how it feels. It just might make your season brighter!
Dylan Broggio, LCSW specializes in counseling teens and their families. She also enjoys working with adult individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression or are overwhelmed by life’s stresses.