Do you consider yourself to be open-minded? Are you willing to shatter personal illusions in pursuit of personal freedom? If you haven’t had a chance to read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read but packs a powerful punch. In fact, I read the whole thing while sitting at an AutoZone one day waiting for my tire to be fixed.
Don Miguel Ruiz is a shaman of the Toltec tradition. More a way of life than a religion, Toltec wisdom embraces the spirit and arises from the same essential unity of Truth as other sacred traditions. The simple yet profound agreements about which Ruiz writes are summarized below.
If you can take five minutes out of your day to read through these points, you’ll quickly be on your way to experiencing personal freedom like never before. Write them down, share them with friends, or put them on your refrigerator. Do whatever you can to embrace and live by these four agreements and I can assure you that your life will be infinitely better for it.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
As human beings, the word is the most powerful tool that we have, and the tongue our most powerful weapon. Words are things. They get on your walls, your upholstery, your clothes, and finally into you. Our word contains all of our creative power. Through our word, we think, express, communicate, and ultimately act, thereby creating the events of our lives. With such power at our disposal, we really ought to be more intentional with our word (even impeccable, as Ruiz suggests). What does it mean to be impeccable with your word? Speak with integrity and say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or others. Instead, direct the power of your word towards Truth and love. Truth is the most important part of being impeccable with your word. And impeccability of the word is the starting point on the pathway to personal freedom.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
Your point of view is personal to you. It’s your version of the truth. In the same vain, what others say and do is a projection of their own reality. In other words, nothing other people say or do is because of you. If you can internalize this idea, you will become immune to the opinions and actions of others. When we begin to really see other people as they are, without taking it personally, we protect ourselves from needless suffering. We’re no longer hurt by what they say or do because we know it’s in no way related to us. Remember, we’re not responsible for other people’s decisions. We’re only responsible for our own. When we truly grasp this, it’s like a weight has been lifted and in its place is a deep, profound sense of inner peace.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
Ask. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. All too often we make assumptions by our own accord and wrongfully believe them to be true. When the truth finally comes out, we realize that it was not at all what we thought. Find the courage to ask questions. Perhaps you need to gather more facts about a particular situation. Real love is accepting other people the way they are without trying to change them. If you don’t understand, ask for an explanation. How much sadness and drama could be avoided if we simply practiced communicating with others as clearly as possible without making assumptions?
4. Always do your best.
Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you’re healthy as opposed to sick. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you are tired after a sleepless night. Under any circumstance and regardless of the quality, simply keep doing your best. By committing to this, you avoid the self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret that come from doing anything less.