Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Fourth Agreement” is mandatory for lifelong happiness.
“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 circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”
No generation of humankind has ever enjoyed and suffered so much perfection; especially in the U.S.A. We are surrounded, bombarded, and suffocated with sensory ambrosia, which we can repeat at will.
We are stranded on an island of “I am not that good” and “I am not good enough;” and the fact is you are not and can never be that good at that activity.
At 5’ 7” I never expected to be drafted by an NBA basketball team. It just was never going to happen. All of us have limitations in some aspect of who we are and the gifts we were born with. But somehow people cannot accept that, at first. At some point, though, we find out we cannot be great at many things.
So, instead of exercising our strengths, and broadening our scope with learning, we expend our time and money to consume someone else’s perfection; we gorge, splurge, drown in an ocean of perfection every day; perfection we can never achieve. We are slaves to the masters of perfection: Advertising, Arts, Sports, Theater, Hunting, Singing, Dancing, Cooking, etc. ad nauseam. Unless we are one of the chosen, we are either deluded to think we rival these gods and goddesses, or we bow our heads and surrender our hope of ever being great.
This sad avarice for greatness drives us to seek glory by association. We buy recorded reminders of our caste; we wear the royal colors and wave the pennants of our lords; we gladly pay a week’s wages for three hours to bask in their radiance. Doomed as addict/slaves, we borrow power by joining fellow followers in preparing, attending, watching, celebrating, lamenting, and endlessly arguing the merits of our champions, as if we were part of the extreme excellence we love and worship.
For so many, this leaves despair, a desolation of value, and dearth of purpose in life. “Who are we?” we ask, unsure of our value to anyone, especially to ourselves.
Once upon a time, the best singer in town, the best dancer in town, the best cook in town, could feel proud and excellent. The small community was a context for excellence in which many could participate and win. Then, there were few replicable performances for comparison.
Enrico Caruso’s fabulous voice could be heard once, at each performance; then the magnificence was gone. The crude recordings of the time were nothing like the actual singing, but they were treasured for what they were; flawed reminders and faint samples of greatness.
We all need approval and love. We need confidence and pride in what we are equipped to do. Our happiness depends on our satisfaction with whom we are, and testing the limits of our best efforts. So, what does it mean “Do your best”? If you hope to live up to the perfect, and often “perfected” images we see every day, undoubtedly, you will be disappointed. Instead, ask yourself honestly, “What is my best?”
The “Fourth Agreement” gives us a sane view of having excellence in our lives. Your best is the best you can do under the circumstances. Not compared to being perfect. If you give your best without holding back, that’s it. Do your best and be happy about the result; that is the essence of the “Fourth Agreement.” Rejoice & and don’t hurt yourself;)