The fourth and final agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book ‘The Four Agreements’ is ‘Always do your best’.
Ruiz maintains ‘under any circumstance, always do your best, no more or no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next’. As time and circumstances change, so too will your ‘best effort’. The focus is not necessarily on the quality of the outcome but on the effort put in.
There is a misconception about how much energy and effort we must put in in order to receive the reward. We believe anything worth having in our lives must be the result of hard work. When you try too hard it depletes your energy levels and therefore you can no longer give it your best effort. Ruiz tells the tale of a man who wants to transcend his suffering so he discusses with a Buddhist how long he should mediate for each day. The Buddhist declares that meditating 4 hours per day would take him 10 years to transcend but that 8 hours a day may take him 20 years. This confused the man greatly to which the master declares ‘You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won’t enjoy your life’. This is also relevant in our relationships with people, when you endeavour to make someone love you, or people please to be accepted it decreases your energy level because it is a forced effort. If you do your best and don’t take people’s opinions personally you will live in a state of joy.
Ruiz also claims that the majority of people take action because they believe there is a reward at the end. They are not acting because of joy or happiness. They are going through the motions to get that pay check, the approval or the love they crave. Rewards may come, but when you act with your heart and not your head the reward is not your motivation. When you do your best, you are not anticipating a reward.
If you live by this agreement, the other three agreements should fall nicely into place. Maintaining the four agreements is not always possible, but if you maintain doing your best it will become easier for you.
If you’re doing your best, you will feel good about yourself even if you still make assumptions, still take things personally, and still are not impeccable with your word.Don Miguel Ruiz
Summary of the 4 agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
- 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.
- 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 dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
- Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.