In the best-selling book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz gives four principles to practice in order to create love, happiness, and peace in your life. What are the four agreements?
Living by these simple yet powerful agreements can be one of the most challenging but also life-changing things you will ever do. The agreements are rooted in traditional Toltec wisdom, a culture that dominated a state centered in Mexico between 900–1168 CE. The Toltec strived for mastery of awareness through personal discipline.
The Four Agreements offer four steps to achieve personal freedom and a life of peace, grace, and love. The agreements are simple but profound.
Understanding the four agreements helps you get in touch with your authentic self. They have the power to transform everything you think you know.
At birth, you are a specific creature with specific characteristics. As you grow, you laugh, play, and utilize basic instincts that are pure and natural. Only until your parents start to imprint ideas and standards into your head do you begin to mold to society and its flaws.
In time, you forget the four agreements which enlighten your life as a human being.
“Society tames the wolf into a dog.”
What are the four agreements? Here is the essence of each of them:
The four agreements align themselves with who we really are. While they are not the easiest mindsets to master, they are the most influential in finding fulfillment in life. Since they were naturally there at birth, these four agreements are original blueprints of oneself that must be remastered.
1. Use impeccable words
The first of the four agreements is to be impeccable when you speak. Basically, this means to speak without judgment and without criticism but to speak the truth. Speaking the truth in this manner will help you act upon what is right. When you speak the impeccable, you can then act upon your positive words and really make progress in life.
There is great power in words, so you should strive to use them with care. Avoid gossiping about others or using your words to cause harm. Your inner thoughts are also words, so you should try to make sure they are not critical of yourself or others.
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Share your truth as clearly as possible and use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. By doing this, you will always be impeccable with your word.
If you are spiritual, you may find yourself taking on regret and blame for something you have done wrong by your beliefs. If you speak impeccably, you cannot blame yourself or condemn those actions. This allows you to move on much faster and heal the wounds of those sins.
This should also be used on others in the same manner. Here, you see forgiveness in action.
2. Don’t take things personally
It is easy to take it personally when others criticize or upset you. However, nothing other people do is really because of you. The things other people do are a projection of the conditioning they have received throughout their lives. Once you understand this, you realize that their opinions are not really about you at all.
When you become immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Moreover, being offended by others is the number one cause of blockages in our relationships and in our minds. First of all, when you are offended, you become bitter towards the other person, but you also do something much worse.
You may think bad of yourself because of what was said. If you are told that you’re ugly or dumb, you sometimes believe it. Maybe it’s because of past insults or your inability to love yourself. Honestly, the fault can be from many causes.
What you should do, however, is to realize that if someone is mean to you, that means they have the problem. If they say that you’re ugly, then they are being cruel – plain and simple.
You should never let these words frame who you are. How others act toward you is an indication of who they are. If you don’t take these things personally, you claim a power over your enemy and “their bad day”.
“Away with the world’s opinion of you, it’s always unsettled and divided.”
3. Do not assume
It is easy to assume that we know everything about a situation and that we understand the point of view of others completely. However, this is rarely true. We never really understand the true nature of any situation or know how it will unfold. In addition, we rarely know what it is that other people want from us.
When you assume something, you make an ASS out of U and ME. Get it? Yeah, it’s a lame joke, I know, but it does ring true, doesn’t?
What happens when you assume something when you think someone is doing or feeling something, and you’re wrong? Most of the time when you assume or misunderstand things about people, you create drama.
Unfortunately, we were taught to be little FBI agents, looking for clues and thus, filling in the blanks. But the truth is, we don’t have criminal profiling degrees, we’re just ordinary people… well, most of us.
When you communicate clearly with others, you can avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and drama. This agreement has the power to completely transform your relationships and your life.
As children, utilizing the four agreements, we asked many questions. It was just a healthy and innocent way to understand. So instead of making assumptions about what’s wrong or what secretive things may be going on, find the courage to ask the other person about it and to express what you really want from them.
Yes, people have the ability to lie, but, in order to live a life worthy of yourself, you must take the high road. You must practice asking questions, instead of assuming that you know the answer. Sometimes, you are wrong about what you think, no matter how many clues you think you have.
4. Just do your best
The fourth agreement says “Do the best you can”. This doesn’t mean that you will be highly successful every day. This just means that you will do what you have the energy to do each given day.
Some days, you might accomplish a number of things and feel energetic and proud. Other days, you might barely be able to get out of bed. Guess what? Both days are good enough.
It is hard to know what the best thing to do is in all circumstances. Your best may not be perfect and you might make mistakes. How you manage to do your best will change with practice and experience. Your best may fluctuate due to stress, illness, or tragedy.
However, if you follow the previous agreements as far as you can, you will be doing your best. Once you know you have tried your best, you can be happy with the outcome and know inner peace.
When you do your best, you can avoid self-criticism and regret. You will know that you tried as hard as you could and that no one can do more than that.
Not doing your best is being slothful or blaming others for the things you haven’t accomplished. No matter what’s going on, the right mindset will govern what you get done in a day.
If you’re thinking along the lines of the four agreements, whatever you accomplish will be your best. These thoughts and words just work well together. 😊
Why living the four agreements is such a challenge
We have been used to speaking without thinking through our words. It takes time and practice to change the habit of speaking without thinking about the consequences of what we say. We have learned to make so many assumptions that we aren’t aware of and it takes a new way of thinking to overcome these beliefs.
We assume that when someone has an opinion about us, their viewpoint is valid. It takes practice to overcome this habit of taking these opinions personally. Learning to look at these areas of our beliefs in a new way can be a challenge that takes time to master.
However, the fourth agreement comes to our aid here. We may not be able to follow all the agreements perfectly from day one, however, we can attempt to do our best to follow them. In this way, we can relax peacefully in the knowledge that we are doing all that we can to improve, day by day.
Excelling with the four agreements
Using The Four Agreements in your life can turn your experience from fear and anxiety to grace and love. However, it is not always easy to follow the agreements and we can sometimes feel disheartened when we fail to live by them all the time.
Not to worry, you will not be perfect at this life-changing strategy. Just because you adopt the Four Agreements doesn’t mean that you will immediately be able to live by them perfectly.
When you decide to adopt the Four Agreements, you are challenging the beliefs and habits you have learned and held all your life. The new habits will take time to become established.
You will fail in some areas, varying from day to day. One day, you might not assume anything and rather communicate beautifully. The next day, that could fail, but you could avoid being offended by an insult. Eventually, if you stick with this program, you will become a much better version of yourself.
Be aware, however, that you cannot improve your life until you see the truth of your inadequacies. Many people fail to make changes and fail to accept constructive criticism due to the blindness of their own faults. If you cannot see what’s wrong with yourself, then you cannot improve upon that, and thus, you will stay the same. Be warned.
If you are malleable, the four agreements will change your life in that it will take you back to your original blueprint of innocence as a child. Your strength and innocence combined have the incredible power to make your dreams come true. Let’s try this, shall we?
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