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.
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. Here is the essence of each of them:
1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
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.
2. DON’T TAKE ANYTHING 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.
3. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
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. Instead of making assumptions, find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
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.
4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
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 an 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.
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.
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.
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.
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