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What If You Only Had One Week Left?

If you visited the doctor today and were told you have one week to live, what would you do?

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These past couple of weeks I have been entertained reading a book inspired by the wisdom of my ancestors, the Toltecs.

Toltecs were the predecessors of the Aztecs in central Mexico and were seen as a source of spiritual knowledge and wisdom.

They were called ‘the men and women of knowledge’ and dedicated their time studying the spiritual and mystical aspects of life. Now, if you believe only in what science considers as fact, some elements of this book might not be for you. However, their learnings can still be understood and applied in our modern times.

The men and women of knowledge

The book is called “The four agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. The main aim of this book is to help the reader leave aside the self-limiting beliefs and societal conditioning that we have been preconditioned with even before we were born, in order to achieve true happiness and love.

The four agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity, avoiding gossip or harmful language.

2. Don’t take anything personally: Understand that others’ actions and words are a reflection of their own reality, not yours.

3. Don’t make assumptions: Communicate clearly and ask questions to avoid misunderstandings.

4. Always do your best: Put in your best effort, recognising that your best may vary from moment to moment.

Seeing death as our teacher

Ruiz suggests that by accepting death as a natural part of the human experience, we can free ourselves from the fear of the unknown and appreciate life more deeply.

We should be aware that we just have the present, not the past, not the future. Just the here and now.

I find it fascinating that our ancestors, philosophers and modern psychoanalysts all agree that contemplating and accepting mortality is the key to a more fulfilling life. Yet, here we are often avoiding these thoughts and conversations. Why?

How can I use the four agreements to support someone I love?

1.Be impeccable with your word

I am the loved one of someone who’s dying:

It can be difficult to find the right thing to say. Speak with love and kindness. Offer words of comfort and support.

I am dying or preparing for my death:

Communicate openly about your feelings and needs. Use words to express love and gratitude. Your loved ones will need comforting words too.

2.Don’t take anything personally:

I am the loved one of someone who’s dying:

Understand that your loved one’s emotions and reactions are influenced by their condition and not a reflection of you.

Approach every situation with compassion and patience

I am dying or preparing for my death:

Show empathy and patience, recognising that everyone copes with difficult news differently. Understand that your loved ones might react in various ways to your illness, including sadness, anger, or denial. 

3.Don’t make assumptions:

I am the loved one of someone who’s dying:

Ask questions to understand their needs, wishes, and feelings. Don’t assume you know what they want or how they feel.

Encourage them to express themselves without fear of judgment or misunderstanding

I am dying or preparing for my death:

Share your own needs and preferences clearly, without assuming your loved ones automatically know how to help you.

4.Always do your best:

I am the loved one of someone who’s dying:

Offer your best support, knowing that your best may vary from day to day

Take care of yourself as well, so you can continue to provide the best care and support possible.

I am dying or preparing for my death:

Strive to live each day to the fullest, doing the best you can given your circumstances.

Allow yourself and your loved ones to have moments of vulnerability. Doing your best doesn’t mean being perfect; it means being true to yourself and your situation.

Practice makes perfect; remember that you won’t get it right all the time. These are baby steps and could take years, but the important thing is that you are taking action. If you feel you’ve failed once, there is always a next time. Never stop trying.

I have a little notebook where I have these agreements written down. Every day, depending on how the day went, I tick off the times I felt I was successful and reflect on the ones where I was not.

Reflect: If you visited the doctor today and were told you have one week to live, what would you do?

Reply to this email if you feel like sharing!

See you soon,

Fernanda

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