In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. The book has been touted as a helpful spiritual resource to Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and even Tom Brady. Brady says the lessons in the book have been a “mantra for his life.” If it’s good enough for Tom, it’s good enough for me.
Ruiz claims that we all have made thousands of “agreements” with ourselves and with others: what you are, what you believe, what you think you can and can’t do, what is possible and impossible. Many of these agreements have been hardwired into our brains from family, friends and the media since we were young.
Ruiz says that if you can adopt these four agreements, “they will create enough personal power for you to change the entire system of your old agreements.”
So, what are the four agreements that can change our life?
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Ruiz says “Your word is the gift that comes directly from God…the word is the most powerful tool you have as a human.”
One way to take action on this is to treat others with love. The Golden Rule: treat others as you’d like to be treated. One word can change the world.
This philosophy becomes truly powerful when used internally. Being impeccable with your word means not using the word against yourself. Think this way: if I love myself, I will treat others with love. I will be more kind, truthful and present in the moment.
Entrepreneur Kristen Hadeed says that “hurt people, hurt people.” This means that people that have been hurt are likely to hurt others. Being impeccable with your word means treating yourself and others well. The first agreement is the core of the other three agreements.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
In today’s world, there is a lot of hate. Imagine someone approaches you and calls you ugly. Normally, this is something you would take offense to. It’s a pretty rude comment, and most people would spend the rest of the afternoon steaming about the insult, secretly wondering “am I ugly?”.
Ruiz claims that “you only take it personally if you believe what was said.” If you truly love yourself (see agreement 1), these words will wash right off of you. These words are an issue of the person who spoke them, not of you.
As soon as you realize this, you will be freed from caring of what others think and live a much happier life.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Assumptions are the cause of a lot of pain for most people. The vicious cycle is that we make assumptions, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating drama and being hurt without knowing the facts.
Think about a few things that have caused you pain recently. How many of them are tied to assumptions you’ve made? Assumptions about what your boss or what your significant other believes?
We make assumptions because we are afraid to communicate. The way to defeat making assumptions is to get clarity and communicate. If you want to know something, ask. If something is bothering you, talk about it.
This also ties to your self-talk. You assume that you can or can’t do something because of your current agreements. Oftentimes, this is negative self-talk that causes you to make excuses for why it can’t be done. Ignore those voices. Naivety can sometimes be a superpower.
Always Do Your Best
Work your hardest, be as kind as you can, be patient, help others. Nobody is perfect, but always do YOUR best.
The tricky piece is that your best changes from day to day, moment to moment. On some days your brain is on fire and on others it’s difficult to get out of bed. Do the best with what you have each day.
This is also about being present. In order to be your best at any given time, you have to be fully present in that moment. You’re not dwelling on the past or anxious about the future. As Dr. Michel Gervais would say, “be where your feet are”.
One Last Note
The reason why this works is that it’s all in YOUR control. You can choose to be impeccable with your word. You can choose to not take anything personally. You can avoid making assumptions. You can choose to always do your best.
Focus on what you can control and your world can change.
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