The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

We spend so much time juggling day-to-day work, doing errands and maintaining strained personal relationships that we end up physically and mentally drained. So, how does one stay in control of one’s life? Don Miguel Ruiz, a renowned neurosurgeon and authorresponds to these questions, in his book The Four Agreements. Ruiz is from a traditional Toltec family in Mexico, and he has gone back to the age-old wisdom of his roots to come up with these guidelines.

The Word Is A Powerful Tool

The power of the word is often underestimated. Everything that we create, and even the people that we become starts with the word. Words can have a very powerful positive or negative impact, based on what we want to communicate. Don Miguel stresses the importance of using the word with integrity and love, so that we can attract these very same things back into our lives. He explains how words are like magic, and can be used to influence or “put a spell” on another person. If you use positive words while speaking to someone, positive things happen. And of course, negative words are just harbingers of negative things.

The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life. (…) The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Often we get offended by negative statements or insults directed at us by other people. Don Miguel asks us to take a step back and see that these are just projections of their own insecurities, fears and assumptions. We need to detach ourselves from the egocentric notion that everything is about us, and learn to accept people for what they are, with their beliefs and opinions. Taking things personally amounts to utmost selfishness, simply because we assume that we are responsible for everything.

(…) The second agreement is don’t take anything personally.

You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said.  As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. (…)

Don’t Make Assumptions

The root of most conflicts is assumption. When we don’t know something about a particular situation, we make assumptions to fill the gaps. We start second-guessing people, and assuming motivations that they may have. The author proposes that the simplest way around this is to just ask questions. If we just have the courage to ask questions, we can avoid all the miscommunication that comes with assumption.

It is very interesting how the human mind works.  We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe.  We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain.  It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe.  (…) We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions. 

 The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask (…)

Always Do Your Best

Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, give your best to it. Focus entirely on your efforts in dealing with the situation. Feel the satisfaction of having given it your one hundred percent. This way, no matter what the result is, you will not have any regrets.

Doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy (…) Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best.

The Four Agreements are aimed at enabling incremental transformations that will lead us to design a life we feel in control of, to have fulfilling relationships and a deeper sense of empowerment to attract new opportunities. Don Miguel encourages us to practice the agreements everyday in order for them to become habits and allow us to experience real transformation.

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