The Fifth Agreement

Joe: Good morning Calliope.

Calliope: …

Joe: You must be sleeping in this morning. I thought I would share with you my latest newsletter. Hope you like it. I did include this in my new book on stress as well.

The Fifth Agreement for Our Lives

Beach sculpture- Martha's Vineyard

Beach Sculpture- Martha’s Vineyard

During all the years that we grow up, we make countless agreements with ourselves,

with society, with everybody around us.

~Don Miguel Ruiz~

 I wrote about the four agreements some time ago. In case you missed them, Don Miguel Ruiz described them in his book The Four Agreements. They are: being impeccable with your word, not making assumptions, not taking anything personally and always doing your best. Recently he completed a new book, The Fifth Agreement. This agreement is to be skeptical but learn to listen.

You are a skeptic if you don’t believe the truth of everything you hear. Why should you be a skeptic? You risk deluding yourself by being too gullible. You can end up looking foolish or get yourself in trouble if you are not careful. I am not suggesting that you go to the other extreme and become paranoid. Your sanity lies somewhere in the middle.

How do you know if someone is telling you the truth? That’s easy. They are not. People use words to say things and use other symbols to convey meaning in the fine and performing arts.

These words or other symbols represent what another person sees as the truth. Or maybe the other person tells lies to deceive you or just wants to get your attention, perhaps to sell you something. Even if others believe what they say or show you, this is not the truth but only their interpretation of it or the truth as they see it.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to listen carefully, respect others’ opinions if they are honest ones and interpret what they convey according to your view of the truth.

Are you following me so far? If so, you can see why human communication is so complicated and why it so often leads to misunderstanding and conflict. You can take what others say at face value and then outright reject or accept what they have to say. The fifth agreement is another approach. You can accept the words or other symbols, realizing that they might have different meanings depending on who says, writes, paints or acts them out. Your truth might not be the same as someone else’s. Just because they don’t see things the same as you do is no reason to become upset or judgmental. Their reality is most likely a little different from yours or perhaps greatly so.

With this understanding, it might be easier to accept how others act and respect it, especially when they differ from you. Walk gently among others and don’t react too strongly or too quickly to what you encounter. Weigh what you hear and consider what you find to see whether it can enhance your view of reality and of the truth.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Don’t believe everything you hear or see.
  • Reserve judgment on others who differ from you.
  • Try to understand them through dialogue.
  • Respect their interpretation of reality.
  • Use what you can for others’ views to clarify your own view.

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