New Year’s Wishes & The Four Agreements

December 31, 2011 in North America, Travelogue, United States

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. It seems they’re little more than guilt inducing commitments to failure. If I did make some, I surely wouldn’t share them with anyone. The only thing worse than not losing that last ten pounds of pre-baby weight would be all of you knowing I’d failed on that front, again.

I do, however, make New Year Wishes, or Intentions. These seem less harsh than Resolutions, to me. More forgiving. I know myself. I know I can’t follow through perfectly.

If you’ve been reading for a while, perhaps you remember last year’s wish: To Live Life with Presence, Purpose, and Joy. I’ve had relative success with two, there’s one I’m still working on. I won’t give up on that project just because the number on the calendar changes.

I read a book this year that I’ve been noodling again recently, as the New Year is approaching and I’m pondering my wish for the coming year. It’s called The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. I found it in an English language bookshop in Panajachel; the one back inside the tourist trap restaurant by the Chicken Bus stop, not the one down in the pink building by the post office. I would have passed it over completely if it hadn’t just been recommended by a friend. I rented it for two weeks (yes, you can rent books there) and tried to keep it dry reading the first chapters on the long, choppy lancha ride to the far end of the lago that afternoon.

If you don’t know this about me already, you’ll know it now: I’m a skeptic.

At this point in my life, there’s not a whole lot that I whole-heartedly believe in. I’m not easily offended. It’s okay if a friend, stranger or author doesn’t agree with me, or believes passionately in that which I find utter nonsense. I don’t mind. I pick out the meat I find and I leave the bones. I found a lot of meat in this book. But there’s a double handful of bones as well. If you read it, don’t get freaked out by all of the stuff you think is nuts, just look for the good stuff. It’s there.

It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m rambling. There’s not enough time left in this year for rambling.

My wish for this coming year is to be more mindful of the Four Agreements and work towards reevaluating the agreements I’ve already made (you’ll have to read the book to know what that means!)

What are they?

The Four Agreements are:

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.

This year has been an amazing year in so many ways:

  • from the first night of January sitting in our front yard with young friends watching fireworks in every direction around the lake
  • to visits with all of the great grandmothers
  • to a cross country adventure with friends that the children will never forget
  • to fishing and rain at my brother’s wilderness shack
  • to the parade of traveling friends who’ve found us from all corners of the continent in our little cottage on Cape Cod. 

In other ways, it’s been one of the hardest years of our lives. As it draws to a close and I take one last look back over my shoulder I see a lot of smiling faces, many of them are smiling ahead of us too and beaconing us on with open hands.

In a few short hours people on the other side of the planet will begin to step ahead of us over the threshold of the future. There’s no way to know what the next year holds. In fact, I don’t want to know. Instead, I want to begin each day with The Four Agreements in mind and walk patiently to meet my destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited!