The road to a happy life

fall road

Carl Jung once said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

There is a big boatload of truth to that one. If we spend all of our time and energy pondering how much someone irritates us, what are we gaining?

I was given the gift of a slim book from a dear friend that seemed to be a quick read — until I started it and found myself pausing through its pages to consider the life-changing wisdom it contained.

The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz, is a study in human nature.

“How many times do we pay for one mistake?” the author asks. “Thousands of times. The human is the only animal on the planet that pays a thousand times for the same mistake … we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves … every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again,” Ruiz writes.

Though we live in good ways nearly every single day, this one mistake for which we berate ourselves carries far too much power. We make a silent agreement that we have done wrong, making us lesser. And to make matters worse, we assume others see us in this bad light, so we beat ourselves up even more, constantly.

This type of judgment is carried and mirrored in every relationship that matters in our lives. Mistakes made years in the past can be brought up and judged harshly by those who share our personal world, creating our own personal hell on earth. And with enough repetition, we believe this harsh, continual judgment as the truth.

We don’t see the actual truth because we have the need to be right and to somehow make others wrong, even about ourselves.

“We trust what we believe, and our beliefs set us up for suffering. It is as if we live in the middle of a fog that doesn’t let us see any further than our own nose.”

He describes this as living in a fog that is not even real.

“This fog is a dream, your personal dream of life — what you believe, all the concepts you have about what you are, all the agreements you have made with others, with yourself, and even with God.”

We hurt ourselves more than others can hurt us by living in this loop.

This author helps us reach a more joyful existence, starting with being impeccable with our word. Speaking with integrity, saying only what we mean, not speaking against ourselves or others, but leaning always toward truth and kindness.

Think how much we all could benefit from this one single, simple step. Believe the best in yourself and in others. Speak with honor and truthfulness.

Don’t make assumptions of what others mean or think, so often the bane of our existence. Live and let live, avoiding drama of misunderstandings. It is, quite simply, the road to a happy life.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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