The Four Agreements was published in 1997. It has sold around 10 million copies and has been on the New York Times Bestselling list for almost a decade. In this book, retired surgeon and Eagle-Knight shaman Don Miguel Ruiz provides a code of conduct that we can follow to reduce suffering and find peace in our every day life.
Don Miguel Ruiz states that everything we do is based on agreements that we make. These are agreements we make with our selves, with our family members, bosses, colleagues, clients, even with God and with life, in general. By observing the four agreements; we can transcend the limiting beliefs that keep us bound to the rules and boundaries of our every day reality. It gives us a different perspective on how we can live a life of freedom, truth, happiness and love.
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
The way we talk to ourselves is the way we talk about others and to the rest of the world. Therefore, it is important be careful with how we use our words. Get in the habit of saying only what you mean and when in doubt, say nothing at all. This is especially important in the age of social media where fake news and gossip are easily created, distributed and consumed.
Words transform. Speak only with good purpose. Say only things that serve you and others. Choose your words wisely.– Robert G. Allen
Before you pass on information or to deal with information from others; keep in mind Socrates’ Triple Filter Test: Is it true? Is it good or kind? Is it useful? If you can’t answer YES to any of the 3 questions, then it’s best not to spread the word. Remember, think before you speak or before you click to share.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Remember that the words and actions of other people are the products of their own experiences. Keep in mind that if you were in their shoes; you might speak and act the same way that they do as well. You can always choose to avoid toxic people. You can always choose to not to behave like a toxic person yourself.
We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that your’s is the only path.– Paulo Coelho
Few people are conscious of their own actions and are not always able to control themselves in various situations.
People love to judge, get used to it and stop taking it personally.– Kathryn Budig
So, if someone reacted negatively to you; don’t take it to heart. They may just be having a bad day but that shouldn’t affect your whole day.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Assumptions are one of the most popular cause of misunderstanding. A lot of disappointments are often the result of people assuming things without asking the other person if it is true, if they approve of the information, if they agree to the conditions, etc. We often assume that we have a “mutual understanding” and then we end up suffering from unmet expectations. Of course, this is unfair to the other person who was not even aware that you had such expectations of them.
The most misleading assumptions are the ones you don’t even know you’re making.– Douglas Adams
Instead of assuming, look and listen without judgment. Be courageous enough to ask questions to clarify and to understand. When someone is giving an answer to your question, truly listen. Be aware of your own tendency to assume things about yourself and other people as well as about certain situations.
4. Always Do Your Best
We always want to be the best we can be, at all times. We forget that our best changes from moment to moment even as our thoughts and emotions change from moment to moment. Even our goals change throughout the day just as the people around us are constantly coming and going along. Not everyone can be the best at everything they want or do. Everyone has different abilities and is good at different things; so it is also not good to always compare yourself with other people.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.– Maya Angelou
Instead of aiming to be consistently good all the time; aim to do your very best with what you can, with what you have, from where you are, at the moment. It is not everyday that you can run a mile in the same number of minutes; sometimes you have to limp along in order to reach the finish line. The important thing is you accomplished something and progressed a little bit towards your goal instead of doing nothing to move forward.
It will take a lot of discipline and consistent practice to truly master observance of the four agreements. You will need to love yourself enough to recognize and accept your own self-imposed agreements. By being aware of these limiting beliefs you imposed on yourself; you can forgive yourself and create better agreements. Start with yourself so you can become more confident to do the same with other people around you.