I just got done reading two books that I feel have helped put things into perspective a bit. The first book I read was The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. Although I felt like this book was kinda poorly written, and the things said in it were pretty repetitive, I still think it got a great message across. The four agreements are agreements you should live by in order to be happy and simply live life.
The first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word,” basically meaning say what you mean and mean what you say, and don’t use your words to speak against yourself or others, because it really does no one any good.
The second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally,” and by this he means that anything anyone ever says about you is actually a reflection of their own life and how they would like you to live it. This one agreement to me is so powerful, because I find myself trying to live my life to other people’s standards so that I’m not made fun of or someone doesn’t say something negative about me. Everyone has a certain image of what a “perfect” life is and it’s never the same for every person, so when someone gives you their opinion on how to live your life, it’s just a reflection of how they think you should live your life according to their own standards, values and goals in life. If you don’t agree, that’s OK! And often the things we get offended about are the things that we struggle with ourselves, and don’t want other people to see or realize, because we all think we should be perfect! No one is perfect, and we all try to hide it from everyone else some way or another. I find that the most influential people are the ones who are open about the things they can and cannot do, but instead embrace it and help others realize their own potential. Someone who is truly happy with themselves will NEVER look down on another person. In fact, quite opposite, I believe! I think it’s that person that is out there helping others see the beauty in themselves. I have so much to say about this one agreement, because I think that if everyone lived by it, things would be much different and more people would be a lot more confident in themselves.
The third agreement is”Don’t make assumptions.” This is one of the things they taught us in EFL to work on. All too often we assume that what some person said meant exactly what we thought it to mean, when in fact, it was just a breakdown of communication. Drama often stems from assumptions. Let me give a little scenario. Let’s say you met someone that you were interested in and you both exchanged numbers. This person told you that they would call you the next day, and tomorrow rolls around with no phone call. You assume the person either didn’t like you, was too afraid to call, was busy doing something else, etc. But because you like this person, you then assume the worst. They don’t call you because they actually didn’t really like you. Well the other person is actually at home thinking that you aren’t really that interested in them, because they assumed your body language wasn’t giving out the right signals. Both made assumptions that were incorrect and resulted in low self-esteem, and the missed oppurtunity of a great date. So never assume! If you’re unsure of why a person is acting the way they are or they said something you aren’t sure should be interpretted in a negative manner or not, ASK!
The final agreement is “Always do your best,” and your best is always changing. One of the things they told us in EFL is that you must forgive your parents for anything they ever did to you that hurt you. Your parents did the best that they knew how. If they could have done it better, they would have. Even if they knew that there was a better way, something kept them from doing it….often fear. Parents make mistakes also. No one is given a handbook on how to raise kids, and even if they were, every child is different. Every situation is different. Raising a child off of only 20k a year is very different from raising a child off of 200k a year. And you must remember that if you become a parent, you too will make mistakes in raising your child, and you would only hope that your child forgave you. So forgive your parents! And always do the best you can every single day. If you fail at doing your best, don’t give up! Something kept you from doing your best that day, and it by no means gives you permission to give up! Just do your best the next day!
This brings me to the next book that I read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. This book is simply amazing. He starts the first half of the book by recalling his experience as a Nazi concentration camp prisoner, and he does this to make the point that through all suffering, there is something to learn from it. You can make the best of your suffering, otherwise it went in vain. You can look as suffering as an actual blessing, because it can make you stronger and wiser! And often through suffering, you find meaning to live! This is so true for me! After my mom died last October, I thought I was fine and had accepted it but it actually was eating me alive. I was depressed, and I kept wondering why it was me that had to have her mom die. What did I do that deserved this? And everyone says “it happens for a reason” but I’ve still yet to believe that in full. However by saying that, one implies that this tragedy has happened and that there is something to learn from it. I agree 100% that there is something to learn from it, but I don’t think it happened IN ORDER for me to learn this. I think it happened, because that is life. People die. Simple as that. But the glass is either half empty or half full. The way you choose to react to it will determine your quality of life. I can look at my mom’s death as being unfair. I now have no mom to be there with me when I have my own children. I don’t have a mom to go to when I need advice about certain things. There’s lots of BAD that comes with this suffering. But what I didn’t see before is that there is even MORE good. And though I don’t think it takes losing a parent to figure this out, it actually just helped me figure it out faster!
For one, the most important thing I have learned from her death is that at any moment, my life can be taken away. I could die tomorrow or I could die 90 years from now. In any moment, I would like to die knowing that I did my best, that I helped others, that I made sure others knew how much I loved them, that I did my absolute best that I could given my situation. I can sit on my ass all day long and wish that life would be better for me and for someone to rescue me, or I could put myself in a position of power and DO IT MYSELF! And by doing better for myself, I consequently increase my self-esteem because I feel capable and powerful. And by doing it, that means I feel worthy of it! So knowing how short life can be and how unstable it is, I have learned to do my best every single day and not take for granted all the beautiful things in life that make me happy.
I have also learned to never ever date someone like my mom’s husband…my step-dad. I won’t get into all the bullshit that he has caused and still causes, but he is seriously the scum of this earth. But I can’t change him! He is what he is, and after all this crap is done with, I never have to speak to him again. I can simply learn to never date someone like this asshole. And my mom knew he was an asshole. She once told me she stayed with him, because she was too old and fat to date anyone else. No one else would love her. Which brings me to another realization from her death. She died unhappy. My mom had low self-esteem, and it really makes me sad to know this and to know that I didn’t help her out any..if that were even possible. I don’t want to die with low self-esteem. I don’t want to die unhappy. I don’t want to feel as though this one life of mine was wasted playing the victim role and feeling sorry for myself.
There’s so much to learn from your suffering, and I think that once you find meaning in your suffering, you no longer suffer! Though I would give anything to have my mom back in my life, I feel as though I’ve been blessed with this situation because it has given me insight and knowledge that I think most people my age don’t have. I think most people ages older than me haven’t figured this out yet either! And so this in itself has given me so much potential to make my life something amazing for myself! I have so much to live for and I’m excited about living this life that I’ve been so blessed to be given!
I have a meaning in life! I have a goal! I have something to live for that keeps me going every single day with a smile on my face! I know that some days I’ll fall backward and feel like giving up. That’s called being human. But I have the knowledge now. I know that it’ll pass, and soon I’ll be back to myself again! Never give up on life and always look at the positive side of things. And believe me, there’s ALWAYS something positive! Making your glass half full will COMPLETELY change your life, and I can promise you this.