The Four Agreements

I read this beautiful little book by Don Miguel Ruiz a couple of years ago, but was reminded of it recently. Because I am struggling. That’s usually when something bigger intervenes, and sends me these reminders.

In the book, Ruiz describes a code of conduct for life based on four agreements:

1. Be impeccable with your word (watch what you say, how you say it, and that you live what you say)
2. Don’t take anything personally (this one is about not letting ego interfere, one of the toughest ones for me)
3. Don’t make assumptions (assumption and judgement…we do it all the time and it inevitably predisposes our mind in a negative direction…another tough one for me)
4. Always do your best (in all things, drop the walls and filters, and let your true self and essence shine)

Four simple little rules that are so powerful when I really think about them. In fact, when things are not going so well–when I am feeling anxious, unsettled, edgy, or just plain off–I can usually trace it back to being out of sync with one or more of these agreements.

I think what these agreements are really getting at has to do with living our lives in alignment, from a place of peace and tranquility. Easier said than done perhaps. Especially in the moment when life feels like it might be going off the rails. Having the awareness to recognize that things are off and the discipline to try to bring them back into sync.

What is perhaps most profound is that fundamentally, at our core, I think we all have these built into us from birth. But somehow many of us become distant and estranged from them as life unfolds.

So it’s not about learning a new way of being, it’s really about discovering, or rather uncovering, what’s already there.

6 thoughts on “The Four Agreements

  1. The four agreements changed my life! I remind myself of these 4 simple, wonderful agreements DAILY. I ask myself, in tough situations, “Which agreement am I breaking?”….most times I’m breaking (or at least bending) one of those 4 simple agreements. Once I recognize that, I can readjust myself, and move forward in a positive and productive manner. Living this way (always mindful of and honoring the 4 agreements) has brought me so much calm, peace, and contentment. Others notice it in me also and ask things such as “how are you able to deal with _____ so well” or “I wish I could be as calm/patient/effective as you”. I always respond by citing the 4 agreements and recommending the book & lifestyle wholeheartedly (this happens at least weekly!).

  2. I like these generally, although I think it’s very liberating to give myself permission to “take something personally,” at least in the way I understand that term. I think I’ll always be sensitive to people’s reactions to what I say and do, in that there’s a distinct sensation that comes up for me when it seems like someone is turning away or abandoning me. I used to think that this sensation was sort of my cue to leave the conversation, or call myself weak or “overly emotional” for having it. Now, at least ideally, my orientation is toward accepting that it’s there and moving on.

  3. Thank you Chris…great observation. As with most things, there is always a double edge element I find, especially on taking things personally. It can generate such positive feelings on the one hand, but can also lead to negative emotions. Sounds like you have figured out a great way to navigate these.

  4. I actually just re-read this book ( needed a bit of a refresher) and also read “The Fifth Agreement”..Great books!

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