Believe it or not the first time I heard about this book was when I was watching an interview with the greatest quarterback of all time. Tom Brady was talking about how he tries to live his life on these principles. After that I knew I had to read it. Not only am I a huge fan of his but also a fan of anything self help in the spiritual realm.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is probably one of the most important books I have read so far in my life. He comes from a Toltec background but these teachings can be utilized by any human from any background that practices any religion. To me it’s common sense stuff that could be explained to a child. That being said the agreements are no easy feat to master. There is so much a person can get from this book but I’m just going to go over the 4 main agreements that the book outlines and talk about them from my perspective. I believe they all work together and if mastered you have really found a way to live in complete inner peace.
The 1st Agreement
Be Impeccable with Your Word
This sounds simple right? Do what you say you are gonna do, tell the truth, keep your promises and always be kind with your words? Well yes but this is just the tip of the iceberg in agreement number 1. Being impeccable with your word goes so much deeper, especially when we are talking about our inner voice. How we speak about ourselves. If our inner and outer voice is always criticizing ones self and others this is not being impeccable with our word.
The metaphor in the book is great. He compares the mind to a fertile garden. Our mind it like soil and our thoughts and words are the seeds. What we hear and think and choose to believe will continue to grow. Can you see how powerful the word can be? Words are things.
Another big one is gossiping. Gossiping is so much more toxic then we realize. It’s difficult in my line of work as a hair stylist to get away from this. People love to do it. It is like an addiction. If you can remember a time in your life when there was a person talking negatively about someone you didn’t know or an establishment you had never been to, you already have a predetermined opinion about them or it. We say we don’t do this but we all do. We have these gossip columns in the back of our heads always running.
I can think of time when I was told never to go to a particular restaurant and how bad it was. I put off going because of this bad review even though I wanted to try it. One day we decided to try it for ourselves and now it’s one of our go to places.
I could also give several examples of gossip I have heard about people that ended up being totally inaccurate. The book gives a great example of this and I had a similar experience. My senior year of high school I was put in an American Lit. class with a less then desirable teacher. A bunch of my friends told me how horrible the class was and how the teacher was a mean old witch who needed to retire. I literally walked in dreading that class from day 1. I had a preconceived idea about it before I even experienced it. I have to tell you they were all dead wrong. That was probably my favorite English class I took all of high school and one of the best English grades I ever got. The teacher was older and a little strict but she was not a witch, she cared, and for some reason loved me.
We take other people’s word for fact without knowing really what was going on in their situation. I didn’t know if they were slacking in the class or if they got a bad grade. They may have not been interested in the material or liked English at all. We don’t know. So the next time you listen to gossip try to let it go in one ear and out the other and don’t engage. When you point the finger and judge another there are 3 more fingers pointing back at you.
The 2nd Agreement
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Ok then!! What the book is suggesting sounds absurd, I know! How on earth do we not take “ANYTHING” personally? What about when we get dumped or cheated on? What if we get fired or looked over for a promotion we deserved? What if we get screwed in a deal or a friendship? Well no, we shouldn’t take it personally and here is why. Every human is acting out of the head space of their own agreements that were planted in their lives from a very young age. Nothing anyone ever does is because of you. It is always without question, always about them. You are not the center of their universe. You are the center of your universe and they are the center of theirs. Taking things personally comes from your expectations that were not met. Just because you had expectations that were one way doesn’t mean the other party had the same idea. You can’t take anything personally because what people do “NEVER” has to do with you but with them and only them.
This book even suggests that if we got shot in the middle of the street not to take it personally. I know this seems really extreme but think of the peace we would have if we never took anything personally. To hold onto anger and resentment is only hurting us. One of my top 10 favorite quotes is “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Truer words have never been spoken.
The 3rd agreement
Never Make Assumptions
We make assumptions all day every day. Our brain does it automatically. When we keep making the same assumptions they start becoming facts in our mind. We assume we know what people are thinking. We assume we know how they are viewing us. We assume so much about others just from our outward physical perception.
Can we take a minute to acknowledge that we can not read minds. We have no idea what is going on in someone else’s head. If we really want to be honest and look at the analyzing we do in our own heads we can probably guess that the same thing is going on in another’s head. People are thinking about themselves more then they are thinking about you. People make their own assumptions. They are worried how they are being perceived and very little about what you’re doing.
Let’s talk about this in everyday life. We have all looked at someone driving a Benz or a Porche and assumed they have money. We have looked at someone with dirty cloths and assumed they are uneducated. We have all assumed at one time in our lives that someone didn’t like us or was an ass and really maybe they were just shy. Can we really know these assumptions were true? No!
I think of the movie Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts goes into the Rodeo Drive boutique and the sales lady makes her feel like trash and assumes she couldn’t possibly have the money to shop in her store. Then she comes back after spending thousands at other stores saying “You just made a big mistake, BIG, HUGE.” Love that scene!
If you find yourself assuming and the assumptions you are making are getting in the way of your peace wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to just ask? When I first read this part in the book my first reaction was “well people lie.” Then I thought “OH MY GOD ASSUMPTION!” Even if you ask a question and the person lies you got an answer so you can stop assuming and move on. If they are lying that is their karma not yours.
The 4th Agreement
Always do Your Best
So cliché! Yes, I know but how can you beat yourself up if you did your best? These agreements may sound easy but they are extremely difficult to follow. Have you done your best? If you notice that you were not impeccable with your word. Did you do your best? Maybe you took something personally. Did you do your best to let it go? Was there some assumptions made today? Well, did you do your best to catch yourself before they turned into fact for you? If you can say you did your best you can’t judge yourself.
Our best is always different. We are going to have an 8 AM best, 12 PM best and evening best. Our best will be different when we are heathy from when we are sick. When we are tired from when we are rested. When we have had loss or gains. We should not judge our best because it will fluctuate one moment to the next. We can only ask ourselves to do our best to our own capability in that moment. Your best in every moment is enough.
Think about if we could all put these agreements to use in our everyday lives how much more inner and outer peace we would have. Nobody is going to ever do it perfectly but if we take tiny steps in the direction of these agreements we could really be living a more genuine life with clarity and well being. Whatever our best is, you are a beautiful soul.