In “The Four Agreements”, Miguel Ruiz calls his fourth agreement: Always Do Your Best. I have always had a hard time with that agreement, because to me, always doing your best implies that you have to always give it your all, do as much as you possibly can, and work like crazy. And that sounds extremely exhausting and not sustainable.
However, in reading Ruiz’s book, it is clear that is not what he means. He explains that your best will change over time, depending on your moods, your health etc. And he cautions not to do more than your best, because if you overdo, you deplete yourself and it will take you longer. He tells this story:
“There was a man who wanted to transcend his suffering so he went to a Buddhist temple to find a Master to help him. He went to the Master and asked, ‘Master, if I meditate four hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?’
The Master looked at him and said, ‘If you meditate four hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in ten years.’
Thinking he could do better, the man then said, ‘Oh, Master, what if I meditated eight hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?’
The Master looked at him and said, ‘If you meditate eight hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in twenty years.’
‘But why will it take me longer if I meditate more?’ the man asked.
The Master replied, “You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won’t enjoy your life. Do your best, and perhaps you will learn that no matter how long you meditate, you can live, love, and be happy.”
Now that makes much more sense to me. So since the wording of “Always Do Your Best” means something different to me, I realized I had to change it so I could remember and live this agreement. To me, that’s: “Always Do What You Can While Taking Care of Yourself and Enjoying Your Life.”
What does “Always Do Your Best” mean to you?