*These agreements come from “The Four Agreements”, by Don Miguel Ruiz. For a deeper look into them, I highly suggest reading his book.*
Sometimes you read a book and it has no impact on you. Other times a book changes your life forever.
That is what happened when I first read The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. I actually never even planned on reading it, but the Universe has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need at precisely the right time.
With a week to go until I was supposed to give a presentation on a personal development book of my choosing, I scrambled to find a short book (I am a notoriously slow reader.) Lo and behold The Four Agreements is 129 page. Perfect. I planned to pummel through it and give my presentation.
I didn’t anticipate that this book would completely change my life, that it would be my most gifted book, or that it’d be the first book I read every year since.
This short, powerful book talks about four agreements, or four habits, that when implemented will remove suffering from your life. By practicing these, my life did in fact change. I became a kinder person. I became a more patient person. And I started to be a more empathetic person.
The Four Simple Agreements:
1. Be impeccable with your word
Being impeccable to your word means speaking with integrity at all times. Be honest with others AND with yourself. It also means keeping your promises and never gossiping about others.
If you implement just one of the Agreements, I suggest you make it this one. Being impeccable to my word forced me to give up white lies. It meant I had to keep promises, which made me think twice about agreeing to something. This naturally led to me becoming a more dependable and honest person, not only to others but to myself as well. Others noticed this change as I worked every day to be completely impeccable to my word. If I said I’d do something, I’d do it. I didn’t lie anymore, even with small, inconsequential stories.
2. Don’t take anything personally
This was the hardest Agreement for me to follow. When I really thought about it, I took EVERYTHING personally. Any critique was a personal attack. My ego couldn’t handle it. Learning that nothing anyone does is because of you was a totally different perception on life. People act because of their interpretation of the world, not yours. Knowing that and understanding that protects you from needless suffering. If someone is mean to you, instead of lashing out at them, you can simply choose to not take it personally. You don’t have to ingest their poison. This made me much less inclined to conflict (I used to be a bit of a hot head) and actually made me more empathetic. If someone is constantly rude or negative, how sad must their perception of the world be?
3. Don’t make assumptions
How many times has an assumption about a situation caused major problems? In my life, too many to count. “I assumed you knew” has caused many couples and friends to argue.
Assumptions also cause our brains to craft wild stories of fiction that alter our emotions. Have you ever thought about an impending conversation, assume how the other person feels and what they will say, then proceed to get angry at them, until you have the talk and their feelings were nowhere near what you assumed? How much needless suffering and anxiety.
Instead of assuming, draw the courage to ask questions and ask for what you want. Many people don’t ask questions because they feel like they are bothering the other person. How much more bothered are they going to be when mistakes happen?
4. Always try your best
Have you ever handed in an assignment, played a game, or gave a presentation where you knew you could have done better? This plants the seeds of self-judgment and regret. On the flip side, have you ever given something your absolute best? If you gave it your all, win or lose, there is no regret. Before every match in my wrestling days, my godfather would say, “Leave it all on the mat.” He didn’t say, “win.” He told me to leave it all on the mat because that is how all endeavors should be handled.
Your best is going to change, like when you are sick. And that is okay. This agreement ensures you stay kind to yourself because if you give everything your best, from your job to your relationship, there is no room for regret or self-judgment.
These agreements seem simple, and they are. In practice, though, they are much tougher. But if you try your best (see what I did there?) every day, then you will soon start to build these habits and with them, change your entire life.
These four agreements came to me at a crossroads in my life.
A time where I felt lost and alone.
The Four Agreements changed my life, and they can change yours.
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