Excerpted from The Four Agreements
The fourth agreement — Always Do Your Best — is the one that allows the other three agreements to become deeply ingrained habits.
Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you are tired at night. Your best will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick; it will depend on whether you are feeling wonderful and happy, or angry and upset.
In your everyday moods your best can change from one moment to another, from one hour to the next, from one day to another. Your best will also change over time, but keep doing your best — no more and no less than your best. If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best will not be enough. When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself, and it will take you longer to accomplish your goal.
If you just do your best, there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. If you have done your best and your inner Judge tries to judge you, you’ve got the answer: “I did my best.” There are no regrets. That is why we always do our best. It is not an easy agreement to keep, but this agreement is really going to set you free.
The Four Agreements are a summary of the mastery of transformation, one of the masteries of the Toltec. The dream of the planet is transformed into your personal dream of heaven. If you do your best always, over and over again, you will become a master of transformation. The knowledge is there; it’s just waiting for you to use it, but the first three agreements will only work if you do your best.
By doing your best, the habits of misusing your word, taking things personally, and making assumptions will become weaker and less frequent with time, but don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word. Your routine habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind. Just do your best. Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally. But you can do your best. Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption. But you can certainly do your best.
If you break an agreement, begin again tomorrow, and again the next day. It will be difficult at first, but each day will become easier and easier, until someday you will discover that you are ruling your life with The Four Agreements. And, you will be surprised at the way your life has been transformed.
Excerpted from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Copyright © 1997 by Miguel Angel Ruiz, M.D. Reprinted by Permission of Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc., San Rafael, California.