4. Always do your best.
In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz offers a template for conducting your life in a way that will bring you true happiness. Four simple agreements -- well, simple to describe. Maybe a little harder to practice.
On this day when we honor workers in America, I think of the Fourth Agreement: Always do your best. As Ruiz reminds us, your best will change from day to day. Some days you're on your game and other days you just aren't. That's okay and it's missing the point to think that you can't do your best on an off day (or week or month or much longer).
Doing your best means just that. Trying to do more, to overdo, will just deplete your energy and you'll wind up missing the mark. Doing less than your best, just pretending to care, leaves you subject to frustration, guilt and regret. No matter what your state of body, mind or circumstance, if you do your best at all times, no one can judge you harshly, especially yourself. By reducing and eliminating self-judgment, you eradicate a huge barrier to happiness.
Whatever you're working at this Labor Day -- from working at a full- or part-time job, to looking for a job, to retired from a job; whether parenting or painting or presenting; whether coping with doubt or pain or anxiety -- always do your best.
In the book, Ruiz tells the story of a man who wanted to transcend his suffering so he went to find a Master at the Buddhist temple. He asked the Master, "If I meditate four hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?" The Master supposed 10 years. Eager and wanting to do better and do it faster, he asked, "Master, what if I meditated eight hours a day; then how long will it take me to transcend?"
"Twenty years," came the answer.
"Why will it take longer if I mediate more?" the man asked.
The Master replied, "You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point and you won't enjoy your life."
Don't miss out on your life. Just do your best.