Change Yourself Change Your World
by Don Miguel Ruiz
An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz
The author of The Four Agreements reflects on what it takes to change the world―and yourself.
Q: So, how do we change the world?
A: Changing the world is not about changing the secondary characters of your story. If you want to change the world, the way you do it is by changing the main character of your story. Then, just like magic, all the secondary characters will start changing. Your children will change because the message that you deliver to them will change. The message that you deliver to your wife, to your husband, will change. Your relationship with your friends will change. Perhaps more importantly, your relationship with yourself will change. When you change the message you deliver to yourself, you are happier―and just by being happier, the people who live around you also benefit.
Your effort is really for everyone because your joy is contagious. When you are happy, the people around you are happy, too, and it inspires them to change their own world.
Q: So is that our big responsibility? Just to be happy?
A: You just exist, and you are here to enjoy life, and whatever you do, you are doing it because this is what you love to do, and that makes a big difference. We all come here with the same mission, and it is to be happy, to enjoy life. How we do it is seven billion different ways. One for every single human. Only you know what is going to make you happy and what won’t make you happy. Respect is part of what makes you happy.
I am speaking for all humans. Our legacy is love, is joy, is happiness. Let’s enjoy this world. Let’s enjoy one another. We are meant to love one another, not to hate one another. Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another.
Q: And how do we get more and more people to be part of the solution?
A: Awareness. We need to be aware.
Q: From The Fifth Agreement: “Once you recover awareness, you become completely responsible for your own evolution, for every choice you make in life.” So it’s the essence of your teachings that awareness makes us ultimately responsible for everything in our lives.
A: Well, the truth is that everybody’s really responsible [for themselves] even if they don’t want to be responsible. We can try to avoid responsibility, but there is no way. Only you can live your life. Nobody else can live your life. Sometimes we want to be responsible for somebody else and make decisions for them, but that is not our responsibility.
Q: So someone having trouble . . . How do they reach that awareness, to be able to say, “Let’s surrender”?
A: OK, they have to understand that it is practice that makes them master.
Q: Aren’t our habits, when we are not being aware, a kind of practice, too?
A: Yes―because, as you practice hate, as you practice anger, as you practice jealousy, that becomes automatic. But when you have awareness and practice being impeccable with your word―using the power of your words for love or truth― perhaps you don’t like to feel hate anymore, you don’t want to feel jealous anymore. You start changing it. And an easy way is by using these agreements.
Q: We often say we’re interested in transformation but we don’t want to transform―we want everybody to transform around us.
A: It will happen with or without us. Everything is changing all the time. Many times we are not aware of our own transformation because our attention is focused on the outside and we can see how everything around us is being transformed. But if we focus on ourselves, we can see our own transformation.
Q: You think we don’t notice this because . . .
A: Because we are living it. Because we are changing with all the changes. With awareness, we can facilitate and change as fast as everything changing. This is the main problem of humanity―that we resist the transformation. We don’t want to let go. We carry our past with us, and it is very heavy―like carrying a corpse. Like my son Jose says, “When the snake sheds his skin, he just lets go.”
That’s what we should do with our past. You don’t want to let go of the great moments of your life. But soon or later, they will go, and it will be fine.
Don Miguel Ruiz is a renowned spiritual teacher and internationally bestselling author of the “Toltec Wisdom Series,” including “The Four Agreements,” “The Mastery of Love,” “The Voice of Knowledge,” “The Four Agreements Companion Book,” “The Circle of Fire,” and “The Fifth Agreement.” The Toltec Wisdom books have sold over 10 million copies in the United States, and have been published in 40 languages worldwide.