The Four Agreements - by Don Miguel Ruiz

A classic. Based on Toltec mysticism, this book contends that as children, we are subliminally indoctrinated into a culture of self-comparison based on the mistaken belief that we are the center of the world, with the ultimate result of losing our freedom and happiness. By following “The 4 Agreements,” we can loosen the strictures the outside world has over us, and learn to truly live again. Though new-agey, this book contains a deep truth, if you access it. Easy to read, incredibly hard to internalize, and massively rewarding if you succeed.

Raw Notes

Domestication

During our early life we began making agreements. Our parents rewarded us when we did what they wanted and they punished us when we didn’t. We also learned behaviors and habits in school, church, and from other adults and children on the playground. The tools of reward and punishment were often emotional and sometimes physical. The impact of other people’s opinions and reactions to us became a very strong force in the habits we created. In this process we created agreements in our mind of who we should be, what we shouldn’t be, who we were, and who we were not. Over time we learned to live our life based on the agreements in our own mind. We learned to live according to the agreements that came from the opinion of others. In this process of domestication it turns out that the choices we make and the life we live is more driven by the opinions we learned from others than one we would choose on our own.

The Four Agreements

  1. 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 Word in the direction of truth and love.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Understanding how to Integrate and Live the practices

Upon reading don Miguel’s wisdom many people have their eyes opened to a new possibility for living life. They get excited when they see the potential for happiness, love, and respect with themselves and their relationships. What they fail to see is the challenges and resistance the mind will have to living just one of the agreements. Don Miguel briefly mentions these challenges in his book, but people fixate on the four chapters with the agreements and seem to miss these other important points. This is often the set up for expectations that lead to disappointment and frustration.