Let’s Generate Some Light

There are some deep thoughts floating around this week and it seemed important to shine some light on them for Thoughty Thursday.

To go back a few days…

I cracked open my copy of The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz’ over the weekend during my time on the dreaded eliptical machine. What a mixture that book is! From one chapter to the next, I swing wildly between “Hell Yes” and “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding.”

Maybe the eliptical was siphoning all my oxygen out through my feet. Maybe I had PMS. I don’t know what made me have such wild swings, but I’ll tell you I was riveted through 30 minutes on the machine of torture.

Any book that can do that, especially on a second read-through, is definitely on my recommended reading list. Let’s talk agreements…

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word.

According to Ruiz, this is the number one agreement and if you follow this, your life will be measurably happier. Make just this one change and receive a vast return.

Writers are keenly aware of the importance of words. We think and dream and live inside of words.

What I get from that statement is:

  • Choose your words wisely.
  • Work to be diligent in meaning what you say.
  • Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

The next three agreements are really the support structure to help you keep agreement #1. The first on the list is a keeper, and was a definite “Oh, yeah” for me. In this world of “reality” TV and “staged” truth, I think people are thirsting for authenticity.

Agreement #1 speaks to being authentic.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

Ruiz makes a stellar point that nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. Their thoughts and perceptions of the world affect they way they act.

That’s fair…to a point.

We’ve been talking about Dirty Fighting here on More Cowbell and this is at the heart of why people fight nasty. They haven’t learned yet how to have clean discussions or how to surround themselves with clean fighters as an adult.

Of course you’re going to take some things personally. And you’re going to react to them. In understanding that people have their own crappioca to deal with, there’s a chance that you’ll react less. Consider the option that what that person just did is not about you. I swear it takes the weight off most discussions.

Think about Clean Fighting Step #2 – Leave the person an “out with dignity” by understanding that there may be facts you don’t know. Now, let’s think about how most people view the actions of others. How often have you heard an adult or a child say, “Look what you made me do!”

How often have you heard someone correct them with, “Look what you chose to do. Would you like to talk about why you made that choice?”

Following this principle cuts down on the pain and amps up the love, giving you that much more energy to achieve the goals and passions that are important to you and your success. I’m not saying, “Go forth and be a sociopath.” I’m saying, understand that most things are not about you.

3. Don’t make assumptions.
A challenge to our beliefs can give us that squinchy feeling in the belly (that’s fear, my friends, plain and simple). In essence, a challenge to our core beliefs makes us feel unsafe.

Whether it’s our family, our friends or – heaven forbid – our boss, we must be brave enough to ask questions and express what we really want.

It takes a great deal of courage to either defend or challenge our own beliefs and learn from the interaction. It takes even more to translate that new knowledge into words and actions.

4. Always do your best.
When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best means you undertake the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Trying your damnedest ensures that you live your life intensely and without regret.

My rockstar mama always told me, “If you do your best, that’s good enough for me.”

I feel lucky that I was blessed with a mama like that because I don’t see that message being transmitted to kids on a societal level. There seems to be a lot of conditional love (and conditional approval) running around the planet right now, jogging in the fast lane alongside that most heinous word, “should.”

These are some heavy agreements. I give Miguel Ruiz major points for not getting preachy about a subect that’s easy to get preachy on.  At its heart, this book is about living a life of integrity.

My favorite line in the book was: It is not the stars that create light but rather light that creates the stars.

As we move into a weekend that marks the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, I hope your heart is open to some light. I believe that everyone has the ability to illuminate the world, in ways both large and small.

In John F. Kennedy’s famous inaugural speech in 1961, he said:

I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

I hope you spend a moment this Sunday lighting a fire in your corner of the world.

What sorts of September 11th thoughts are on your mind this week? Are you participating in any remembrance activities this weekend?


REMINDER: Tomorrow is Life List Club Friday and I will be over at David N. Walker’s blog, with a post about achieving your dreams, even when they’re scary. Emily Moir will be guest posting here. See you Saturday for Risky Baby Business!

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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20 Responses to Let’s Generate Some Light

  1. letempspasse says:

    Loved your post. The Four Agreements has been a favorite book of mine for a while now. Those 4 pieces of advice really ring true to me. I have reminded myself of these lines on numerous occasions. “Don’t take anything personally” is probably the most useful to me, as it helps me remain “zen” in the face of frustration, anger, stupidity, etc. Reminding myself of this line gives me time to think of a more creative reaction to a given situation. It doesn’t prevent me from taking things personally completely, but it forces me to take a step back and take a look at the forest, not just the tree.


  2. I’ve always wanted to read this book. I’d see it in the book store and think, oh next time. Funny thing is for various reasons NOW is the perfect time for me to read it. Thanks Jenny for the warm and thoughtful post. Off to amazon.com now…


  3. Jess Witkins says:

    Jenny I really like this post, it hits home with my current reads which included The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, and one of my all time faves The Holy Man by Susan Trott. I agree with you on #1, I choose my words very carefully when speaking with people. It’s inevitable they get misinterpreted at times, but the more aware and precise I can be the better. And clean fighting is something that comes up in The Celestine Prophecy. It talks about people trying to control one another’s energy in a battle for power. But if we look to learn what they have to teach us, we can give each other energy versus take it away. It’s all really fascinating. I like discussions about this, so I can’t wait till my book club meets to discuss this one. I’ll have to ask if any of them have read the four agreements.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Jess! You know, I’ve never read the Celestine Prophecy and I keep thinking I should. You’re nudging me with this comment! I’d love to hear what your book club has to say about the Four Agreements…


  4. As I said on WITs FB, this is one of my favorite books, Jenny. You summarized it beautifully. Thank you!

    I thought I “got it” but am still a work-in-progress on those four agreements. MUST dust off my book and reread.

    September 11th will be a personal experience, list of gratitude, prayers of those we lost and troops still in harm’s way. I’ll shine my light here in Texas, Jenny. I mourn what we lost that day, but also miss the sense of unity and patriotism that united all of us with the world in the aftermath of the tragedy.

    For months, every business event I attended included a rousing patriotic song — and we all stood and sang along.

    Sherry reminds me that our neighboUrs to the north felt the horror and scrambled to assist getting planes safely on the ground in Canada — and looked after the stranded passengers while they were there.


  5. Jenny Hansen says:

    I agree with you, Gloria, that many Americans have let their patriotism become smothered by the wear and tear of politics. I think it makes it even more vital for each of us to take a stand and express some love, particularly on a day when love needs to be remembered.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment – i always love hearing what you have to say. It comforts me to know that some lights will be shining in Texas. 🙂


  6. Hartford says:

    Sounds like a great read – I will definitely add to my wish list (which is getting very long…LOL)! I loved Celestine Prophesies. Another goodie that changed my world was Conversations with God (book 1). Both life/idea/belief changing. Thanks for passing along the goods.


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  8. Catie Rhodes says:

    I’ve never read this book, but what great advice. Don’t take anything personally is something I struggle with. I know not to, but old habits are hard to break. The thing to remember–as you said–is that everybody comes to every issues with their baggage intact. Letting it bounce off is an art. Thanks for writing this. 😀


  9. Marcia says:

    Eloquently written, Jenny! I agree with your points and those may be heavy agreements, but definitely worth working toward living by. Love the JFK quote! Now I have to finaly read The Four Agreements and Jess’ suggestion, The Celestine Prophecy. Great post, Jenny!


  10. I’ve always tried to keep my word and do my best because that’s how my mother raised me. Not taking things personally is essential especially for a writer and one I work on all the time. You know what they say about making assumptions and asses, right? I try not to assume but I have to admit I’ve grown some long ears and kept making noises that sounded suspiciouly like hee, haw a time or two.

    You’ve definitely generated some light here. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Why does it have to happen on my birthday (I was born in Sept. 12 in the Philippines–which is a day ahead)? I intend to celebrate but at the same time, it gives a hint of somberness in the occasion.

    We did some remembrances at church. Somehow, it gives me goosebumps everytime people speak about it, which made me want to cry, too.


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