Some Words to Live By

“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

I’m not usually a huge fan of new-age, inspirational, self-help books and speeches but there are a few messages that can really make a difference if they make sense for your situation.

When I was in college, my Dad gave me a one page copy that listed The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It didn’t really register at the time because I was a college student without a care in the world.

But I kept it in my files and somehow it stayed with me through multiple moves over the years.  Any time I become frustrated or annoyed with my own trivial problems I took a look at this simple document.

It really did seem to help change the way I viewed the big picture.

The problem is that these kinds of advice rarely ever work in the heat of the moment. It’s usually only after the fact once you’ve had a chance to clear your head that you can put things into perspective.

Over time you can build up the correct outlook and not let the little things you have no control over bug you quite as much.

Levelheadedness has a way of compounding over time as you learn, grow and mature. It’s a process and it takes time (One I’m trying to work through on a daily basis).

I discovered my one-pager of The Four Agreements again last weekend while cleaning out some old paperwork. Here they are:

(1) Be impeccable with your work.

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

(2) Don’t take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Their own dreams. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

(3) Don’t make assumptions.

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

(4) Always do your best.

Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Living by #2 alone will save you a lot of frustration and heartache from the actions of others.  And #3 can be a huge help on the career front.  Asking questions shows that you care and that you are willing to learn.

Hopefully you find these helpful.

The four agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom

Further reading:
How to choose yourself


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  1. My Own Advisor commented on Feb 25

    #3 and #4 are critical. Hard to follow #2 all the time, we are human beings after all so our work is a reflection of ourselves.:)

    Nice rules for sure…to strive for!


    • Ben commented on Feb 25

      Exactly. That’s what makes it so hard. I think you’re right that 3 & 4 are the most important. Seems common sense but many people forget this stuff.