The Four Agreements is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz that provides life advice to help readers live a happier life and reach a sense of freedom and enlightenment as they go through life. In a second companion book, we learn about the Fifth Agreement.
Ruiz believes that life is a system of agreements. Agreements you make with yourself, your loved ones, and potentially with a higher power if that is something you believe.
The agreements are as follows:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Your word is significant. Your word is you, and your word is what you put into the world. It’s your creation, and it’s your voice.
Being impeccable with your word means more than just doing what you say you’re going to do when you’re going to do it.
Being impeccable with your word involves more than being timely and honest with what you say.
Being impeccable with your word means that you don’t say things that aren’t true about yourself and others. It can mean an end to using self-deprecating humor in your communication, especially if it impacts your mental health. It might mean that you choose to be slow to speak, especially when speaking to or about others.
Using your word to build up rather than tear down is vital to living a full and meaningful life.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
-Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
This agreement means you need to know who you are and have a strong sense of self. Everyone has independent thoughts and opinions, and the only worldview you can truly understand is your own. When implemented correctly in your life, this agreement can help you find a stronger sense of identity and allow the negativity that you may receive in your daily life to roll off your back.
So, the next time someone makes an offhand comment that would usually offend you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to accept that what they say is their worldview at that time, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you. If you implement this into your life, you will find more peace with others and with yourself.
Don’t Make Assumptions
How often do you get into trouble for making assumptions about others, or how things will work out in the end?
When you make assumptions rather than waiting for understanding, you can create a false view of reality, negatively impacting your well-being and relationships with others. According to Ruiz in The Four Agreements, the best solution to avoid making assumptions is to communicate clearly, solving a host of problems including misunderstanding, negative thoughts, sadness, and drama. Assumptions can rob you of happiness.
If you’re unable to properly communicate to quell your fears or negative thoughts about a person or situation, the best thing you can do is tell yourself that you don’t know the whole story and leave it at that. If you don’t, you may rob yourself of happiness and fulfilling relationships with others in your life.
Always Do Your Best
Your best is not static, and as such, your best will not be the same every day. It is influenced by your mood, your health, the things that have befallen you in life, and the weight you may carry.
Your best might be incredible one day. You may be able to crush your goals and communicate well with others, but other days you may need to hide from the world to recharge. Yet, if you’re actively doing your best, whatever your best is, you will be able to find more peace within yourself and care for your relationships in a significant way.
Be Skeptical, But Learn to Listen
There is much to be distracted by and a lot to hear in this world. Not everything we hear is true. It’s okay to be skeptical, but there is also much to gain from listening and understanding why people believe what they do. Learning to listen and being skeptical isn’t all about what other people tell us and the things we hear in the news.
Being skeptical and attentive has a lot to do with how we speak to ourselves. Not every thought we have about ourselves and our being is accurate, and it is common for humans to speak to themselves negatively.
Yet, what if you listened to yourself a little harder? If not everything you tell yourself is true, why is it important to listen?
It’s important to listen to even the most negative of thoughts. They’re telling us something, even if it’s not what we hear right away. For example, if you hear that voice in your head telling you that you are a bad person and that you will never amount to anything, how can you listen to what you’re telling yourself and reframe it?
Reframing is a difficult task, and it does take practice, but maybe you’re learning that you need to take a break. Or perhaps you realize that you aren’t working to your fullest potential. Maybe you’re learning that you’re on a path that doesn’t serve you.
The real meaning of the fifth agreement isn’t simply that you need to listen more. The real purpose of this is that you need to accept yourself the way you are, and you need to accept others the way they are. You don’t have to agree with every person on every topic, but if you allow yourself to be open to listening, you might find out why a person believes the things they do, which enables you to give that person more respect.
Implementing The Five Agreements
While it may be difficult to implement every single agreement that you have learned about into your life right away, the good news is that you don’t have to.
You might choose to focus more on being impeccable with your word one day, and you might choose another day to focus more on not making assumptions. Start your day with intention and decide to embrace the intention you set for your day to the fullest extent. You will have a much easier time getting to a place in your life where you can use every agreement in your life every day, even if you can’t do it perfectly all the time.
You don’t have to have them all mastered to live a happier and more successful life. The fact that you now have an awareness of them allows you to grow and learn.
As with anything you take in or read, approach with skepticism; take what works for you, and leave behind what doesn’t serve you at this time.