How to be Happy, Try This
Don't Take Anything Personally
“Don’t take anything personally because by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing.” From: The Four Agreements
I’d taken my car in to be serviced and was sitting in the waiting area trying to decide if I wanted to walk across the street to the mall or just take the opportunity to just sit and relax. I chose to sit and relax and then I remembered having tossed a small book into my purse to read while waiting. The book titled “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz was published in 1997 and I’ve had it for about 7 years, in fact, it was a gift from my oldest son, Tony. It is a small book, about 138 pages and I’ve read it several times--probably once a year in part or in total. It is one of those books that serve as a reminder to do the things that we know instinctively or have learned through life lessons or that our parents taught us. The four agreements are:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
That day, for whatever reason, I opened the book and the first words I read are “whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personally. If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful. It is not necessary to believe other people who tell you that you are wonderful….even if someone got a gun and shot you in the head, it was nothing personal.” Now I wouldn’t quite go that far I thought. If someone shoot me in the head I will think that very personal, but I kept reading and then I understood. I never quite got it before, maybe because I was too busy “taking things personally” or maybe because I just wasn’t ready to truly receive the message.
The author uses various levels of extremes (as in the shoot in head) to illustrate his points. Humans are very often addicted to suffering with various levels and varying stages of support for these addictions. When others do or say hurtful things to you it truly is not about you. They are dealing with their own feelings, beliefs, opinions and assumptions. The poison they spew does not have to harm you because if you take the poison it becomes yours--don’t take it. The poison they send is a projection of their reality. When we make the decision to be immune to the actions and opinions of others we won’t assume the victim role and endure unnecessary suffering.
I Send Love
My mother was a woman ahead of her time. She was at peace 99% of the time. She could lose her temper when push too far but it didn’t happen very often. She would tell us to be aware because there would always be someone trying to steal your joy. I was about 16 or 17 the first time I understood why she chose to surround herself with joy. We were in the grocery store when someone rounded the end of the aisle rather quickly and their carts clashed. It was an accident no one was at fault, things like that happen but my mother gave a sincere “pardon me please, I didn’t see you”. The other person went into a tirade and said some really ugly things. My mother held her head high and put a smile on her face and when the person finally finished she simply said “again, pardon me.”
I asked her why that person had done that and why she didn’t do anything to defend herself. She told me that there was nothing to defend. She knew she had not done anything to the other woman. She said “that woman is a hurt soul and she took her hurt and frustration out on me. It would have done no good for both of us to be upset and raging over something so minor. I send her nothing but love". So, long before the Four Agreements book was written my mother understood the principles of don’t take anything personally. Because when you understand this and make it part of who you are you can “be in the middle of hell and still experience inner peace and happiness. You can stay in your state of bliss, and hell will not affect you at all".
Don’t take anything personally teaches us that we can’t be hurt by what others say or do when we see them for who they really are. They can lie to us and we will be perfectly okay with it because we know they are lying to us out of their own inadequacy and fear. My mother told me that when someone shows you who they are believe them the first time. I wished that I’d believed her when she said it to me the first time. I would have saved myself from much heartache over the years.
The Ultimate Gift
“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her.” This jumped off the page stared me down. Wow, I thought, that is so true, but until now I'd never thought of it as a gift. If they don’t walk away you should walk away and not look back….a gift that you give yourself--the ultimate gift.
“When the student is ready the teacher or lesson will appear.” I was ready and didn’t even know I was ready. Since reading and understanding this second of four agreements I am experiencing a deep and joyful freedom. I typed the words “Don’t Take Anything Personally” in very large print and placed it over my desk where I will see it every day. I do not want to forget because I really like the way I am feeling right now. I declare myself immune to the poison of gossip and other emotional poisons. You can send it and I will not eat or drink it. But be aware that your poison may just become worst in you.
A Final Thought
Give yourself a gift and read the book and as you read keep both an open mind and an open heart. Remember, you are not--not now, not ever--responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. This is a surefire way to get to happiness and you really don’t have to work at it. Just decide. So, don’t take anything personally.
Love to all,