So, I’ve been reading and re-reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz on and off for the past six months. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically four concepts to replace the life-damaging ways of thought that become ingrained in us from childhood. By living your life according to these concepts (based on ancient Toltec wisdom), your life will radically change for the better. I usually read a little bit for some inspiration for setting an intention before yoga class. The agreement that’s seriously been doing it for me recently has been agreement number four: always do your best. It has radically changed the way I live my life day to day.
First of all, you should know that my spirit animal is without a doubt a cat: my “perfect day” consists of laying in one spot for hours very happily, getting up to eat, running around for a bit, then laying some more. This natural inclination has led to me spending more time than I care to admit binge-watching The Mindy Project and taking Buzzfeed quizzes to learn which How I Met Your Mother character I am (it’s Robin, by the way.) When I got to agreement four, though, a light bulb went off: “always do your best – this will help you avoid self-judgement, abuse and regret.” YES. My mind was blown with the simplicity but enormity of this concept. Was I doing my best? Was I giving my life the energy it deserves? The answer was a quick and definite “no.” My go-to excuse has always been that I’m not working my dream job so maybe I’ll work harder when I change careers. Cheeky Mr. Ruiz was on to me:
“Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a [paycheck]. Most people do exactly the opposite: they only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best. … If you take action because you have to, then there is no way you are going to do your best.”
I totally needed to apply this mantra to my life.
I first used the mantra as my intention in yoga class, and I found that I was actually capable of more than I thought. By holding myself accountable about whether I was honestly doing my best, I was able to resist the temptation to retreat into child’s pose when my muscles began to feel the burn. After feeling how radically it changed my yoga practice and my sense of accomplishment, I consciously began to keep this motto in mind throughout my day whenever challenges arose. It turns out, my best is a hell of a lot more than I’ve been giving! Now, when I want to hit the snooze button, the mantra pops into my consciousness: “do your best,” and I am inspired to GET SHIT DONE like a BOSS! (Beyonce, Anna Wintour, Lena Dunham, and Mindy Kaling come to mind if you need “boss-lady” inspiration.) My sense of pride and accomplishment have soared and consequently my whole outlook on life! I feel proud of the work that I do and the energy I put into my days, and that positive feeling reflects in my interactions with everyone around me. Imagine the ripple effect in the world if we could all be a little happier with ourselves and therefore nicer to each other. Wow.
Obviously, it takes time and practice to implement this into your life:
“When you do your best you learn to accept yourself. But you have to be aware and learn from your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results, and keep practicing.”
Be kind and patient with yourself.
Remember that everything you have ever learned to do was through repetition.
But you can start here: whenever the daily grind feels like it’s taking a toll, ask yourself honestly if you’re putting 100% into the tasks that you do. It’s such a simple question, but the answer might be the kick in the ass that you need to live a more fulfilling life!
Buy The Four Agreements on Amazon!