Throughout our lives, there are books that can have a deep impact on us, helping us have a better understanding of the world we live in, those around you, and even ourselves. One of those powerful books is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, a Toltec Wisdom Book, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Inspired by the philosophy of the Toltecs, an ancient civilization that lived where now is Mexico, Miguel Ruiz offers a set of principles that would lead the reader to find a powerful transformation in their lives. These are the four agreements:
- Be impeccable with your words. Words have to power to transform the way we think of ourselves, about others, and about reality. Therefore, we must be mindful of what we say, how we say it, and the impact it will have on those around us. “Speak only with integrity and use the power of your words in the direction of truth and love” says Ruiz in the first agreement.
- Don’t take anything personally. When the first agreement suggests that we don’t hurt others’ feelings, the second one offers great advice to avoid being hurt. More often than we may notice, we tend to take things personally, thinking that the actions of those around us are directly influenced by us and how we will feel, whether good or bad. However, we must remember that “nothing others do is because of you. It is a projection of their own reality, their own dream”.
- Don’t make assumptions. Communication is an essential part of human interaction and being able to clearly communicate to others what we think and feel is a very useful skill. On the other hand, when we try to guess what someone is thinking or feeling, we tend to make assumptions and believe these assumptions are real. This will result in “misunderstandings, sadness, and drama”, leading to discussions that could’ve been easily avoided. “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want” suggests Ruiz.
- Always do your best. The Fourth Agreement states that “under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret”. Even when we might forget about this from time to time, doing our best every time is the only way to achieve our goals. Yet, Ruiz acknowledges that our “best” will change from time to time, depending on how we are feeling. Nevertheless, we must avoid pushing ourselves too hard, which could result in our inner judge being particularly and unnecessarily harsh.
“You need a very strong will in order to adopt the Four Agreements —
but if you can begin to live your life with these agreements,
the transformation in your life will be amazing.”
Don Miguel Ruiz