The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, is one of the most popular personal growth books ever written.  I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time at the semi-annual Transformational Leadership Council (TLC) meeting last month.

Don Miguel is one the most “present” and alive individuals I have ever met.  His eyes seem to twinkle with joy.  On the second day of the meeting we spent some time together.  Whenever he saw me after that, he got up from his chair, walked across the room, and hugged me.

Because I knew I would be meeting him at the TLC meeting and because I had never read The Four Agreements, I decided to read it before the meeting.  I was amazed how similar it was to so much of what I believe and have written myself.

Because so much of what he says mirrors my own thoughts (although our writing styles are very different), I want to quote a few passages from his book in order to emphasize some ideas that I think are particularly important to insuring your happiness.

Passages from The Four Agreements

Nothing other people do is because of you.  It is because of themselves.  All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.  When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you.  What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.  Their point of view comes from all the programming they received during domestication.

If someone gives you an opinion and says, ‘Hey, you look so fat,’ don’t take it personally, because the truth is that this person is dealing with his or her own feelings, beliefs, and opinions.  That person tried to send poison to you and if you take it personally, then you take that poison and it becomes yours.  …

When you take things personally, then you feel offended and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts.  You make something big out of something so little, because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong. …

It is not important to me what you think about me, and I don’t take what you think personally.  I don’t take it personally when people say, ‘Miguel, you are the best,’ and I also don’t take it personally when they say, “Miguel, you are the worst.’ …

No, I don’t take it personally.  Whatever you think, whatever you feel, I know is your problem and not my problem.  It is the way you see the world.  It is nothing personal, because you are dealing with yourself, not with me.  Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, but nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them. …

If you live without fear, if you love, there is no place for those [negative] emotions.  If you don’t feel any of those emotions, it is logical that you will feel good.  When you feel good, everything around you is good.  When everything around you is great, everything makes you happy.  You are loving everything that is around you because you are loving yourself. … You live in that state of bliss where everything is so wonderful, and everything is so beautiful. In that state of bliss you are making love all the time with everything you perceive.

Don Miguel walks his talk

Based on my personal experience of him, Don Miguel lives in this state of bliss.

What about you? Could you imagine not giving meaning to what others say?

Could you imagine living without negative emotions?  Could you imagine living in bliss?

It is possible.  Try making a clear distinction between what people say and the meaning you give it.  Make real to yourself that nothing anyone says or does has any inherent meaning.  Events only have the meaning you give them and that meaning exists only in your mind.  When you make that distinction clear enough, the meaning will dissolve along with any feelings that the meaning had created.

Create your own life of bliss

Try it.  No, don’t think about trying it some day.  Really try it.  Right now. And then write and tell me what it feels like to, as Don Miguel puts it, stop taking personally what others say.

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