The Secret to Happiness
Life can be hard. People can be harsh. Situations can lead us down the path to Hell. In all my years on this Earth, I have learned a few things that have become unshakable truths.
No one can make you happy or unhappy. You are the source of all joy and all sorrow. The way in which you experience things comes from within.
That may seem like a huge weight to bear, as if you are responsible for simply everything. Not so. All you can do is decide how you will respond to what happens.
Don Miguel Ruiz, an international best-selling author from Mexico who embeds his beliefs in the ancient Toltec tradition, offers powerful guidelines to maximizing our happiness. I discovered his book, The Four Agreements, about a decade ago. They are simple truths that have helped me on numerous occasions when things seemed to be falling apart.
Taken from the Toltec Spirit Website, Ruiz’ agreements are listed below:
1. 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. 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 dream. 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 circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
As with anything new, applying these agreements to our lives takes time. We are entrenched in habitual behaviors that aren’t easy to break. While we may not always remember to honor these agreements, life seems to go more smoothly when we do.
Some of you may master several of the points well while struggling with the others. For years I took things personally, acted defensively when I felt attacked and avoided conflict as a result. With tons of practice, I have been able to free myself from taking on other people’s projections and making them a part of me. I see them now for what they are (raising teenagers has helped me tremendously with this issue. You simply cannot live with a teen and take everything they say to heart.) And they are not a part of me at all.
Healthy distance and a loving heart can heal the trauma that created our bad habits. Happiness, after all, is not a destination, but a state of being. I would love to meet you on your journey to peace.
The great news is we get to decide anew every day for – or against – our own happiness. How will you choose?
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