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4 Agreements That Will Change Your Life

4 Agreements That Will Change Your Life

Are you interested in changing your life? Are you craving more love and happiness? Well, there’s a ton of advice out there on how to make that happen. There is one book, though, that really hit home for me, and I want to share what I’ve learned with the hopes of spreading the love and happiness to more people around the world. The following agreements are based on the brilliant and inspiring book The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The idea is that if you commit to these four specific agreements, you will change your life and be a happier, more loving human being.

I have been doing my best to follow these agreements, and I can definitely say it’s working.The message in this book helped me reach a higher consciousness and bring more love and happiness into my life — I think it can do the same for you.

So without further ado, if you are ready to change your life and bring more love and happiness your way, repeat after me:

1. I am impeccable with my word.

impeccableword

    Gossip. Trash-talk. Slander. Chitchat. Rumors. Scuttlebutt. (Yes, that’s a real word!) You know what I’m talking about. If you’ve been through middle school, chances are you’ve been both a participant in and a victim of gossip. I’m willing to bet that almost everyone has spoken poorly about someone else at some point in their lives. If you work in an office setting, you can be sure it’s filled with whispers about co-workers. Here’s the thing: Even if you think you’ve never said a negative thing about someone else, it’s likely true that you’ve said a nasty thing about yourself. And that’s just as bad.

    Occasionally, thoughts pop into our minds that we don’t control. (We can work on that, but that’s for another article.) Thinking something, though, is truly different from saying it aloud. Committing a thought to word brings the thought to life. It makes it alive and real. When you use your words to speak poorly about someone else, including yourself, you are bringing negativity into the world. That’s not cool. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you?

    Eliminate this kind of behavior immediately, and you will be on your way to transforming yourself into a happier, healthier, and more loving person. No more talking poorly about others or yourself! From now on, only speak about people as if they are standing right next to you. If you wouldn’t say it in front of them, then don’t say it at all.

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    Repeat after me.

    I am impeccable with my word.

    2. I do not take things personally.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 1.29.11 PM

      The things people say and do are direct projections of who they are, what they have experienced, what they believe, who they associate with, where they grew up, and so forth. Everyone has a unique way of looking at the world, and no two people see things the same exact way. Nope. That’s simply impossible.

      When people say and do things, they are doing so directly through their view of the world. This is the one and only way people can! This means that nothing anyone ever does or says is personal to anyone but themselves. It simply can’t be. You may be married to your best friend of 40 years and think you know every single thing about this person, but he/she still sees the world in his/her own unique way. There’s just no way around it. But this is a great thing! No matter what is going on in other people’s lives, what they say, what they do, how they act, you can bet that is has nothing to do with you and you don’t have to be hurt by their actions or words.

      Of course, when we think about not taking things personally, we usually associate this with negativity. But the same is true for positive things. Even when people say they love you, it’s still not personal to you. I do not mean they do not love you; they probably do! But even those words, directed at you, are being used to describe a feeling that was created within their world. Maybe you really rocked their world, and now they feel love. That’s wonderful! But, alas, it’s still not personal. Reel it in and feel the positive energy bouncing off each other as you share love, but remember: If one day it changes and they take their love away, that’s not personal either.

      No more taking things personally! Go on, now, say it.

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      I do not take things personally.  

      3. I do not make assumptions.

      noassume

        We all know that silly saying that goes with the word assume. You make an as — yeah, you know, that one. Also, this is important: Never assume the worst-case scenario in an unknown situation. If you don’t know the truth about something, assuming the worst is a one-way ticket to unhappiness.

        These both hold true, yes, but it doesn’t stop there. I want to delve even further into making assumptions. I want to talk about not making assumptions at all.

        Firstly, never assume you know and understand what people are saying all the time. Communication between people can be really tricky. Words can confuse things. If you are even the slightest bit unsure about what someone means, conjure up the courage to ask questions until you are confident you have a good understanding of their words. Positive or negative. It doesn’t matter. Always ask questions until you are certain you know what’s going on.

        Secondly, never assume people just know what you mean. How often do you hear “you know” when talking with someone? I know I say it all the time. But even if the person I am talking to responds with “oh, yeah!” that doesn’t necessarily mean we are on the same page. Be sure to communicate with people as clearly as you can. Do not assume they already know what you want or need. The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to be as clear as possible about your expectations and boundaries. You can always ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be open, honest, and clear. Be proud of you who are and speak up!

        So, no more assumptions about what other people want, need, say, think, or feel, and no more assuming people know what I want, need, say, think, or feel.

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        Let’s say it together this time.

        I do not make assumptions.

        4. I always do my best.

        dobest

          One of the biggest hurdles to jump when telling people to “do their best” is that they often confuse the word “best” with “perfect.” But perfection is not the goal. Doing your best means that you are giving it your all in any circumstances at any time.

          The truth is that your best changes from day to day. It even changes from moment to moment. While you are consistently doing your best, your best is not consistently staying the same. Your best looks different when you’re sick than when you’re healthy. You can bet it looks way different on a day you’ve experienced a loss than on a day you’ve exercised, done yoga or played a game of softball. No matter what, though, you’ve got to get in there, give it your all, and be the best version of yourself.

          So, ask yourself every once in a while: “Is this my absolute best self?” Then, see if there is anything more or different you could do. Keep in mind that as long as you can answer “yes, this is my best” to your question, then there is no reason for self-judgment, abuse, or criticism. Be your best friend instead. Support and encourage yourself just like you would a friend or a son/daughter. And don’t waste time with regret either. Just do your best. No matter what.

          Say it with me now.

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          I always do my best.

          Are you ready to make these four agreements? As soon as you do, you can begin to make them a part of your daily life. Too much time is wasted on beliefs that keep people unhappy. Let’s not waste anymore time suffering.

          Change yourself, change your life, and watch the people around you look at you with amazement and start to change as well. Then watch yourself transform into a happier, healthier, and more loving person.

          Namaste, ya’ll.

          Oh, if you’re interested, here’s the book I’ve been referring to: The Four Agreements.

          Featured photo credit: Close up portrait of a smiling woman looking outside through window via shutterstock.com

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          Last Updated on January 15, 2019

          How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

          How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

          Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

          In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

          Step right up, don’t be shy!

          Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

          The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

          Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

          Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
          So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

          A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

          Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

          Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

          When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

          Culturally Conditioned

          We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

          I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

          The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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          Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

          Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

          Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

          1. Broadens Your Network

          After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

          2. Improves Your Communication Skills

          I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

          Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

          3. Continually Learning

          So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

          Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

          4. Increases Self Confidence

          Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

          Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

          So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

          How to Talk to Strangers

          Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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          1. Say Hello

          Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

          Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

          Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

          2. Ask About Them

          Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

          You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

          As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

          3. Just Do It

          One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

          When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

          Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

          4. Don’t Take It Personal

          One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

          When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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          5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

          I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

          One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

          6. Detach

          A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

          Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

          7. Share Your Stories

          Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

          To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

          So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

          8. Give a Compliment

          Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

          When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

          9. Relax Your Body Language

          If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

          When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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          If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

          10. Practice, Practice, Practice

          Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

          Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

          After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

          The Bottom Line

          As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

          There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

          Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

          Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

          More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

          Reference

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