I just read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz and immediately read it a second time. It’s just that good. And frankly that short. Having immersed myself in Tolle, Troward and a host of “New Thought” authors recently this was refreshingly accessible in a much more immediate sense.
The book is said to be taken from ancient Toltec teachings, and does indeed have some interesting archival information on Toltec legend and how it leads into the main body of the work, which is made up of the Four Agreements themselves.
This part of the book is simple, straightforward and accessible without being tedious. This may be why it is such a small volume, but don’t be fooled it is packed with useful and usable insights and teachings. The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word. This may not sound like ground breaking stuff, until you consider what is meant by this. Ruiz stresses the vital import of being impeccable with your word to yourself. It is made quite clear however that this is not just self serving but beneficial to society as a whole. Seeking to do no harm by your words or actions so that your own path is not hindered is a vital aspect of the first agreement.
2. Do Not Take Anything Personally. A very difficult agreement for many to keep if you consider the animosity between people as a matter of course, but quite simple in application. Once you understand that people are reacting to their own internal dialog (or dream as Ruiz teaches us) it becomes much easier to separate the words and actions of others from ourselves. This agreement brought to mind the NLP thought: Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources available to them.
3. Do Not Make Assumptions. Closely related in some ways to the second agreement, this deals with our tendency to not take into account that there is almost always more to any situation than we are aware of. Acknowledging that we are not omniscient removes so much emotional detritus from our lives that this agreement alone will relieve a huge amount of stress from our lives.
4. Always Do Your Best. The part of this that makes it such a vital agreement is understanding that your best will be a dynamic thing. Your best will be better at some times than it will at others, and you must accept this! If you always to the best you can in that moment then you can be at peace with the results, knowing that your effort held all you could do with the knowledge and resources at your disposal. Notice the synergy with the previous two agreements?
An important aspect here is that these four agreements are ones that you are making with yourself. As such they require the cooperation of no other individuals, and are therefore adoptable by any one that chooses to do so. They are meant to replace agreements you have already made with yourself: agreements that are destructive to yourself on almost every level.
Integrate these four positive and constructive agreements with a life lived in the ever unfolding present moment and it will add joy to your life, and even more importantly remove pain and stress from your life nearly effortlessly.