Ellen: You're going to make me cry.
don Miguel: They told you the way you should be, and they told you you're never going to be like that. And you believe it. That's the reason why we judge ourselves. That's the reason why we reject ourselves. We say, "I'm not perfect." Only God is perfect. It's a big contradiction, because if God is perfect, then I am perfect and you are perfect. So for us to say that we're not perfect is the biggest insult to God.
Ellen: I think one of the turning points in my life came a few years ago. I started going to sleep at night just talking to myself, saying, "You're perfect just the way you are," because I used to beat myself up about weight and working out, and no matter what I did I never felt good about myself. I decided to accept myself and know that I am good. Just those affirmations every night changed my belief in who I was because I had been told for so long, over and over, that I was something else. That brings us to another agreement: Don't make assumptions—because we assume that when people do something or say something to you, they mean just what we think they mean.
don Miguel: The biggest assumption we make is that the story we've written about ourselves is true. Whatever we do, we say, Oh, this is just the way I am. It's not true. We hardly know what we are. We are the biggest mystery. But whatever we are, you don't need to know. Your liver doesn't need to go to medical school to be a liver.
Ellen: I gotta take it out of there then. I sent it to medical school. What a waste of money! Yes, that's a perfect example of how something just is. It functions; it does its job. But I have to ask—don't you ever get frustrated? I mean, you seem so happy and so calm. When's the last time you gave someone the finger? Come on, when you're driving the car and someone cuts in front of you?
don Miguel: Let's see...once, my son—
Ellen: How old is your son?
don Miguel: Right now he's 22, but when he was 14, 15 years old, he started going in the wrong direction, according to my point of view. He rebelled and that was a frustration. But I caught myself and felt I had to respect his choices.
Ellen: You did? Because that's a really fine line with kids.
don Miguel: Exactly. That was a little bit difficult. The people who can really hurt you are your own children.
Ellen: I'd like to talk about how you were raised by your family, about Toltec wisdom.
don Miguel: Every philosophy in the world is just mythology. This is mythology that my mother and grandfather gave to me. I didn't always believe it, but I love it because it's beautiful. We love stories. In this story, Toltec means "artist." I consider every human an artist of the spirit. You create your art even if you are not aware that you do. But with awareness you can modify your way. In my mythology the greatest gift that comes from God is life. The only way for us to say "Thank you, God" is for us to really enjoy life—and to be able to say to someone, "Hey, I love you." And who cares if they love you back?