The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

Just finished reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed it! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a positive and inspirational read.

It is not a long book – I was able to finish it in two commuter rides to work!

The First Agreement is: “Be Impeccable with your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your words in the direction of truth and love.”

The author believes the path to peace and happiness start with the first agreement. It’s not that you have to be perfect in everything you say. It’s more about silencing the negative internal dialogue that often causes people to give up before they even try something. Basically, if you think something negative about yourself, replace it with something .positive. Instead of “I can’t do this”, say “I will do my best, and that is good enough.”

The author also warns against gossip and speculation about other people. Really, until you have walked in someone else’s shoes you don’t have enough information to bring meaning to or to make a judgement on their actions. You simply don’t know, so don’t discuss it. A lot of wounded feelings, conflict and broken relationships can be attributed to gossip and speculation about others. And once a relationship is broken – once trust has been lost through ungracious words and thoughts – it can never  be put back together as it once was. And this is a loss for all involved.

The Second Agreement is: “Don’t take anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

I learned to appreciate this agreement the hard way. Sometimes people say and do things that are really difficult to bear. And it’s very easy to take these things personally. But, when it comes down to it, we have no control over other people’s thoughts, words and actions towards us. We have no responsibility for these thoughts, words and actions, either. Other peoples’ opinions of us really are none of our business. We can just rest in the fact that we do our best, and that we endeavour to  treat others the way we would like to be treated – and leave it at that.

We should never internalize the behaviour of others towards us. It is the seeds that they plant in their garden – not ours. Instead we should fill our lives with good thoughts and positive actions – to have a garden filled with compassion and love. This way, we live life actively in peace and not as a victim or people pleaser.

The Third Agreement is: “Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and DRAMA. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”

I love this agreement! There’s an old saying: “When you assume, you make an Ass of U and Me”.

Enough said.

The Fourth Agreement is: “Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance simply do your best, and you will avoid self judgement, self abuse and regret.”

I love this final agreement, especially the fact that it acknowledges that your “best” changes according to where you are at on a particular day. If we are well rested and feeling healthy, our best is different than if we have had little sleep after having been up all night with a flu bug. Acknowledging this helps us to not be hard on ourselves. At the end of the day we can say “I gave it my all – did the best that I could at the time” and find peace in that.

The author also points out that we should avoid trying to do more than our best. The way I understand this is, we don’t push ourselves beyond our capacity. As a former people pleaser, I would often push myself too far and expect and do too much, coming away from situations feeling empty, depleted and exhausted. It’s good to have the confidence to know it’s okay to simply do your best – that your best is enough, and that it’s okay to say “no” without an explanation.

I would highly recommend anyone who wants a quick, positive and inspirational read, to pick up this book.