The Four Agreements: Driving Edition

I used to be a pretty wild driver. Speeding around people who weren’t going fast enough for me, honking, eating, texting and do other asinine behaviors of the like. 

When I was in high school, my friend’s mom, Jackie, was driving us to one of our basketball games. I don’t know what transpired to make the driver next to us so angry but she sped up, was yelling and waving her arms out the window, and physically threw something at our car. I was in the back seat ready to light torches, gather the village and see to it that this psychotic woman have her license revoked.

Without flinching or missing a beat Jackie said, “Wow, she must be having a bad day or something.”

I wasn’t in the right headspace to absorb this at the time, but I thought about it a couple of years later and it really changed me. I made a new rule for myself to stop getting angry at other drivers. It wasn’t long before I noticed how it improved my attitude towards driving as well as my attitude when I got out of the car. 

I finished The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz last week - a great book recommendation from my brother, Pete. It’s a quick read that in my opinion everyone on planet earth should be required to read. 

Here are the four agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

They seem so simple, right? I really can’t stop thinking about these four simple sentences. 

I read a lot of non-fiction and tend to get pretty overwhelmed with all the information I’m taking in. I want to tackle it all at once and become a combination of Mother Theresa and Buddha overnight. When I come back to earth and realize I am not doing myself or anyone else any good by being so overwhelmed - I start small. 

So let’s start small with these Four Agreements. Instead of perfectly applying all four agreements to my entire life, I’m going to take my “don’t get angry at other drivers” rule one step further with the help of this book.

Be impeccable with your word

“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love."

When I’m driving by myself, the only time I’m speaking words is probably to say some variation of “Ummm hello? Are you serious? Move over. What the %$#&.”

So this one is easy to tackle while driving. If I’m being impeccable with my word, I am not using my words to say nasty things about other drivers. I am only using my words to sing.

Don’t take anything personally

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.”

You know how after someone does something frustrating, it’s hard not to pass them and send them an angry/confused look to let them know how much of a monster they are for doing that thing they just did.

Solution: don’t do that. Challenge yourself to move on. 

They don’t need your sneer. They don’t need to know they’ve wronged you. It’s not about you. They weren’t trying to inconvenience or hurt you - maybe they sneezed and swerved a bit into your lane.

Move on. Figuratively and literally, you’re holding up traffic if you don’t.

People are not trying to make me late for my meeting, they’re not taking “my” parking spot, I’m not a bad person if someone honks at me. It has nothing to do with me actually. 

Jackie didn’t absorb what the woman did to her, she simply said “she must be having a bad day.” See? It’s not about her. It’s not her problem. She must’ve read The Four Agreements years ago. You rock, Jackie.

Don’t make assumptions

“The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking ...then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison. Whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems.”

In reality, we don’t actually know...anything…about other drivers. We might have assumptions about who they are based on the car they’re driving, the way they’re driving, what they look like, etc. But we don’t know for sure. And in the scenario where we’re all in our cars trying to get from point A to point B, it’s not our job to know. 

Let’s say someone has a political bumper sticker you don’t agree with. You immediately draw up an entire profile of who this person is and how you feel about them, all based on assumptions. The second you start to do this, you are creating a story and running off with it as if it were truth. Even if you don’t act on it and cut them off in hopes that’ll show them not to support that politician next election, you’re still poisoning your mind with these toxic thoughts.

Whatever the reason someone is doing something you don’t agree with, it is not your job to assume why or make sense of it. Don’t run off with assumptions that you will truly never know to be true or not.

Always do your best.

“Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret."

This is a really good one to start practicing in the car. For me personally, doing my best while driving means keeping my phone out of my hands, not putting on my makeup while driving, and not using my horn. I made a massive change in my life to make sure I can achieve these 3 small goals: I leave my house 5 minutes earlier. 

I saw a meme the other day that made me laugh. It was a picture of a person tucked in bed and it said “me risking my entire career for an extra 8 minutes of sleep.” This is so me. If you’re reading this and saying, “Cait, I just saw you eating a burrito and playing sudoku while driving the other day.” You are unfortunately probably right. But hey, we all have to start somewhere. I’m starting with these 3 goals to always do my best while driving. Starting now.

The Four Agreements is a must read. And trust me, you can knock it out in a week easily. Click here to have it magically appear on your doorstep. 

Let me know if this starting small challenge works for you. Once we master The Four Agreements in the driver’s seat, imagine what we can accomplish when we step out of the car.

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