Food4Soul: The Four Agreements

"Always do your best."

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

All ideas expressed in this blog post are those of the writer and do not represent those of PointePeople.  PointePeople does not prescribe a certain way of living and celebrates diversity of thought.

Why is this book so important to me?

The Four Agreements came into my life when I needed guidance.  I have always been tough on myself – if I am not number one, I am no one.  It even reminds me of the recent quote I read by Patricia Barker, “I like to tell my dancers, there is no excuse to lose.”  I am not knocking the renowned Ms. Barker, rather knocking the way society has conditioned us to think of winning and losing.  This book made me understand that the standards I had created for myself were those made by society and that in order to feel free I needed to create my own standards and make four promises to myself for sustainable happiness. 

The Book 

So what is The Four Agreements all about?  The agreements relate to four promises we must make to ourselves to feel unfettered from the pressures of society and more often we put on ourselves.  The knowledge of the Four Agreements comes from a way of living prescribed by men and women of knowledge from Southern Mexico called the Toltec.The book is clear in stating that the Toltec knowledge is not a religion.  It is most accurately described as a way of life, distinguished by the ready accessibility of happiness and love.  Moreover, my purpose in writing this article is not to profess religious teachings, nor is this an endorsement of the Toltecs.  My purpose is simply to relay the practical application of the Four Agreements in relieving us from the pressures we often put ourselves inside and outside of the studio.

So, the book talks about the “Dream of the Planet”, which includes all the societal rules we hear from the time we are born.  As children this Dream is thrust upon us – it defines for us what success and failure mean, what is acceptable or not.  Save for moral, ethical and legal rules that are important to run a peaceful community, these societal rules constrain our true growth.  As we grow older we see life from the paradigm of the Dream and it informs everything we do, especially as we pursue our passions.  So we must ask ourselves when we dance, are we dancing for ourselves or for someone or something else? Are we able to forgive ourselves for not being perfect or is our image of perfection the reason we may be rejecting ourselves.

The book states that by making four agreements to ourselves we can live outside this guilt-ridden, competitive life as we take on new challenges.

 The book very quickly delves into the Agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

Always do your best!

While it is the last agreement, Always do your best resonated the most with me.  This last agreement helps in ingraining the other three in our minds.

Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less.  But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next…your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be good.  To me, this statement asks to not judge myself and rather enjoy the process.  To forgive myself on days I am tired and want to take a break, or when my mood is off and I cannot focus.  The days I am frustrated and exhausted, I ask myself, under the circumstances am I doing the best I can and if the answer is yes, all negative energy escapes me.  I stop judging myself and the sudden burst of positive energy actually allows me to do even better at that moment.

How many times have we tried to overdo something in the studio?  In doing so, we deplete our body and go against ourselves thus further increasing the time it will take to accomplish our goals.  I am not saying don’t be ambitious and work hard.  You must learn from your mistakes; you must continue to practice, taking feedback from the results.  But do YOUR best and enjoy the process; do not worry or be afraid of the consequences.  Rewards are an eventuality but do not tie yourself up to those rewards.

When you do your best you begin to accept yourself and break away from the societal Dream.

And remember, doing your best will never feel like work because you enjoy whatever you are doing.

Have you read this book? What do you think of the fourth agreement? Please comment below.


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