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How to be Happy, Try This

Updated on August 18, 2011

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:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. 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,

Nonna


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    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      This is very inspirational. I love your mother's point of view that others are just trying to steal your happiness. I think that is so true, and unfortunately sometimes (many times lately) I let them succeed at doing that. So thanks for the uplifting ideas. You might want to get a copy of "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" to drop in your purse. It is a really quick read, but very powerful, as well. If you're interested you can read about it in this article I wrote last week: https://hubpages.com/health/short-guide-to-a-happy... .

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      I so loved this hub and agree with the power and wisdom of not taking anything that anyone else says and does personally. It's important to examine our own beliefs, actions and reactions and we need to take responsibility for our own beliefs, actions and reactions, but when we absorb and take to heart the things that others say and do to us it is a recipe for unnecessary suffering.

      I loved the examples you gave about the things your mother taught you not only through her words, but through her actions.

      I've also read "The Four Agreements" more than once, but your hub expounded on it nicely. Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Hey ktrapp. I didn't want to wait so I jumped over and read the hub you suggested. Thank you and I am definitely getting the book. I constantly surround myself with anything to remind me of wonderfulness of life. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting...you and your thoughtfulness are very much appreciated.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Hi Happyboomernurse, I always love it when you drop by and leave a comment. My mother was a very wise woman and it took me awhile to truly understand and follow her example. I think I am going to give myself a treat and hop over to read one or more of your hubs. Thank you!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Your hubs are so practical and so touching. You inspire me. I needed to be reminded today that hell will not affect me in my state of bliss.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Isn't that a wonderful statement? I am so very happy I discovered it...or maybe it discovered me, anyway I am happy. Thank you MsDora for your wonderful and encouraging comment.

    • ErinPittman profile image

      ErinPittman 5 years ago

      Lovely all around. Thank you for sharing!

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Thank you Erin for stopping by and reading and for leaving a comment. I really appreciate it.

    • maxravi profile image

      Ravi Singh 5 years ago from India

      lovely and nice thinking.thanks for your hub.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      You are very welcome and thank you for reading and leaving a comment. It is very much appreciated.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Well written, Dee, In my life I have recognized that my enemies have had a way of disappering from my path. I do what is right and do not return reviling for reviling and be patient and before you know it that situation is no more. If you let the stuff run off you like water from a ducks back, you improve your health and well being. STRESS Kills. Let the other guy allow the poison and vitral rot out his or her insides and find themselves on a hospital gurney. Great reminder, thanks again...Cred2

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Thank you very much Credence2. It truly is amazing how it works. It simply change my life...I used to suffer from terrible, terrible headaches...when I learned to do this the headaches disappeared. Whenever I had a lapse in judgement the headaches returned. Thank Cred2 for stopping by and I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

    • moneycop profile image

      moneycop 5 years ago from JABALPUR

      amazing hub..really blessed to have alike thinking...just i made it very deep and scientific...but u added logic into it

      my entire hub visit will only talk about happiness...i am sure u will appreciate my efforts and u are also on same track...

      i like the blessed point u made to pinch ones mind..

      again thanks

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Thank you moneycop for stopping by and commenting. I love the feeling of being blessing by other, by what I read, by what I hear... I will definitely go over and read your hub(s)

    • Momma Mia profile image

      Momma Mia 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! Voted up and more ! You and your mom are very smart ladies.... I bet it truly runs in that lovely family! Great advice and article, I feel blessed to have read it today!

      wishingUwell

      Mia

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Momma Mia, I so, very much, appreciate your words of praise and encouragement. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving me feeling joy!

    • waes-hael profile image

      waes-hael 5 years ago from The Netherlands

      Amazing words of wisdom. Your mother's point definitely deserves attention. There are millions upon millions of situations and people during one single day in our lives whom can steal our joy if we allow them to..

      I have someone in my immediate surroundings that perpetually complains about most trivial things. I told her to either do something about her problems or stop complaining because her complaining only repels people from her. She got angry. I saw she didn't get it. I will order the Four Agreements for this lady as a little Christmas gift. Thanks for your recommendation!

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      waes-hael, you are very welcome. I do hope your friend is able to take the book and find a way to joy. Thank you for stopping by. I really, really appreciate you leaving a most encouraging comment.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Rated up, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting! This is a fantastic hub on a subject that affects us all. I've never thought about these four rules together before, but wow are they important. So I have half of them down, just two to go (taking things personally, and sometimes making assumptions.) I'm so glad to have read this--it's getting bookmarked! :)

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Your comment has encouraged me as I read it this morning. As I look up at my little sign that says "don't take anything personally", I am reminded that it is at times like this and the encouragement I receive, the rouge spots are made a little easier. Thank you for stopping by and please visit again.

    • profile image

      MP50 5 years ago

      Dee aka Nonna, thank you for sharing this constructive information on self help. I feel you, voted up and socially shared

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      MP50 thank you so much. You words encourage me and have definitely lifted my spirits. Today has been very long and I was very tired until I read your comment. Thank you for dropping by and thank you so much for your vote.

    • sasanka7 profile image

      sasanka7 5 years ago from Calcutta, India

      It is a very useful hub considering the present behavioral aspect of the society. Waes-hael has rightly said “There are millions upon millions of situations and people during one single day in our lives whom can steal our joy if we allow them to.” We can see how people have become intolerant in each steps of our day to day life. They debate for most trivial issues. It is true that when some close relatives are purposefully want to oust you from them it becomes a hell like situation and if there remains no alternative you have to suffer till death. Voted up.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      sasanka7, I actually wrote this hub because I was needing encouragement and was not getting it from people. Something caused me to put that book in my purse and reading it (although it was the 4th or so time) changed me for the better. I look at my little framed poster of the words Don't Take Anything Personally" and remember.....your words are so correct people have become intolerant and they don't seem to notice.

      Thank you so much for your vote and from stopping by and leaving a wonderful comment. Please visit again.

    • Mary Neal profile image

      Mary Neal 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, USA

      I don't think so. Some people are actual sociopaths who participate in a cover-up regarding the secret arrest and murder of one's handicapped relative and actually feel violated when one does not thank them for the murder but seeks justice instead. I am quite serious. The profile of a sociopath is in this article: http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html - Of course, when a relative is murdered, sociopaths involved are not able to resurrect the dead. Survivors can only seek a wrongful death settlement in a court of law that should be presided over by a fair, impartial judge. Additionally, one might assume that police and justice officials will do their jobs and investigate and prosecute whoever is responsible for the crime. What if they ALL get together and suppress information about the murder instead? What if they send cyberstalkers to keep survivors suppressed online and in-person stalkers to follow survivors to prohibit their access to computers that are not directly under the cyberstalkers' control like the survivors' home computers are? What if sociopaths send cyberterror to survivors continually, steal survivors' emails, and surreptitiously edit survivors' blogs and posts on social networks to curtail communication about the murder? What if they somehow have power over Internet sites? What if they follow one to the post office and somehow can interfere with mailings? How does one undergo such criminal conduct and not take it personally? Who would "send love" to such people? Frankly, I do not think sociopaths care whether or not people like them. They are completely devoid of human emotion and possibly have altered DNA - Gen.6:2,4 people. They know how to mimic smiles, tears, etc., but they feel nothing. What if a number of people like that unite in key decision making positions?

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Although I agree with much of what you say my reason for writing this hub was to address those things that crop up in an average day with people doing things that can really throw us off balance when it shouldn’t.

      I was watching an episode of CSI: Miami yesterday that involved a little boy losing his mother through the senseless act of a drive-by shooting supposedly for the “fun-of-it”. Lt. Horatio Caine (lead investigator of the CSI team) took it very personally. Not only did he have to find an idiot with a gun but he now felt it his job to keep a little boy safe while doing so and, he took it upon himself to find a safe home for him as well.(Wish more police officers felt this way).

      After reading what you had to say in your comments then going to your site to see what you are involved with I am impressed and I understand completely what you are saying to me. I totally agree. I think you are doing just that in your advocacy (amazing). We do need to lift our voices and do whatever we can in our little world to bring attention to all the things your mentioned.

      I don't know but, I think it may be possible to love the sinner and hate the sin. It may even be possilbe to love someone and not like anything about them or their actions. I think that is what Jesus was saying when he asked forgiveness for the men who nailed him to the cross "Father, forgive them for they do not know what that are doing." (Luke 23: 34)

      My intention was trying to help people navigate those little things that can blow up and become big things and keep us from enjoying precious moments and losing precious time.

      Thank you again Mary you really made me think beyond just the little everyday. Please visit again.

    • profile image

      bri36 5 years ago

      I have read this book several times and come away with something new every time. One of the things that it taught me was simply "You don't make me mad, I make me mad!" with all the different levels of strife in the world it would be a great thing if we all stopped and took a look around at ourselves to see what needed to be changed to live in harmony with ALL. This is a very important message you are spreading here Dee aka nonna and I for one am grateful for the chance to share in it.")

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image
      Author

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Brian, I again, thank you so much for your support. Like you, every time I read it I find something new. It is truly a book that never stop teaching. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

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