The Four Agreements: Always Do Your Best
So far we’ve learned about the first three agreements in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; and don’t make assumptions. And, now, we have reached the fourth and final agreement: always do your best.
Always do your best means just what it says. No matter what situation you are in, no matter how you are feeling, physically or emotionally, if you always do you best then you won’t have regrets, self judgments, or feel guilty. Ruiz acknowledges that your best will change from hour to hour, day to day. Your best will be different when you are feeling ill versus when you are feeling well — regardless, just always do your best and you’ll feel satisfied.
Ruiz says, “When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people 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.”
As an example, Ruiz uses going to work with the reward being pay day. He says people go to work and think about their pay check — all the while suffering through their work days. He goes on to say that because people tend to be so focused on the reward (getting paid) that it can make them miserable, frustrated, and unhappy (even when the pay check arrives)! Ruiz says that when people do things (such as work) because they feel they have to do it (to pay the rent, for example), it blocks them from doing their best. But, when you do something just for the sake of doing it (without focusing on the reward), you will open yourself up to being the best you can be. Always do your best, because doing so will make you happy.â€¨â€¨Even if you are doing something that doesn’t necessarily bring you great joy — give your all, do your best. The fact that you did your best is what will bring you great joy.
I don’t like running. The task itself makes me unhappy because I believe that I’m not good at it. Recently, I ran my first 5K race. I chose to do a mud run for my first race (a bit ambitious)! I ran uphill, downhill, and through the woods, climbed over walls, walked across thin wooden planks, crawled through tunnels, and trudged through mud pits! I was a member of a 4-person team and each of them had done 5Ks before. I knew that early on in the race I would lag behind my teammates, and I did.
Throughout the race, I didn’t focus my thoughts on how much I hated running, how far behind my teammates I was, or that I wasn’t good at running. I focused on doing my best, and guess what? I found great joy (and accomplishment) in doing the race because I knew I had done my best. It took me an hour to complete, but I did it! It really was mind over matter. I pushed myself physically to run and complete each obstacle, and I pushed myself mentally to focus on doing my best.
Ruiz reminds us that repetition is what helps us form new habits. Practice, practice, practice! Each task you complete, no matter how trivial or how monumental the task, always do your best. Shift your focus from the task itself. Make your focus on doing the best that you can do. Can you think of a task that you dislike? Give that task your all — do your best. And, watch what happens.
Ruiz stresses that the first three agreements will only work if you always do your best. You may not always be impeccable with your word, you may not always remember to not take things personally, and you may make assumptions from time to time — but strive to always do your best. Remember, tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity for you to always do your best.
When I taught high school, this book used to be one of our go to sources for introspection. Love its message and powerful outlook!