The One Book That Will Change Your Life

Jessica Lynn

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

If you are open, the universe will conspire to bring you the right book at the right time — when you need it.

A friend will suggest a book to you, or it’s sitting on a table at a yard sale, or the cover catches your eye as you walk by the endcap in your favorite bookstore. A book will come across your path right when you are ready to meet it when the wisdom within its pages speaks to a particular problem you’re struggling to solve.

I feel fortunate for books that find me at just the right time and spell out ways to simplify my life and underscore my values. Magic happens when you are open to learning something new and ready to take it in and implement its wisdom into your life.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by don Miguel Ruiz, is the book that found me just when I needed it.

I’ve internalized its knowledge and wisdom over the years.

It is one of five books in my library I revisit at least once a year to remind me of what is essential for living my best life — these four agreements.

I think about them often, and when I need a reminder, I’ll pull out the pocket-sized abridged version I carry with me.

The results that come from the mindful practice of these agreements are a more manageable life and more control of your life.

They bring you back to a place of personal power and get you out of reaction mode.

Living in a reactive state is not healthy, nor is it coming from a position of strength.

Being reactive to unfortunate events — even if it is just someone cutting you off in traffic — is a draining way to manage life.

Perspective is how you handle the roller coaster of life we are all on and how one maintains balance.

So many little things throughout our day are out of our control.

Mindfulness and awareness are the keys to re-conditioning our brains to a place of non-reaction and power. A new mindset changes our perspective. The Four Agreements help you achieve this state of non-reaction to bring you into your power, giving you balance.

The Four Agreements

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

Words have power. They have the power to seep into everything around you; they have the power to lift and the power to destroy.

Words become part of the furniture; they can hang in the air permeating every part of the room, so speak them with mindfulness. When you are “impeccable with your word” you,

  • Speak with integrity.
  • Say only what you mean.
  • Don’t gossip.
  • Don’t speak negatively of other people.
  • Don't speak negatively about yourself. Silence your inner critic. Rid irrational chatter from your mind.

How this agreement will shift your life:

You will experience less negativity in your life, and you will have less conflict with the people around you, whether that is with your partner, your boss, your friends, your family, your peers.

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

If you practice just this one agreement, your life will change.

When someone insults you, cuts you off in traffic, belittles your talent — it’s not about you. Let me repeat that. It is not about you.

It is about them.

What they are going through and what their reality is.

You do not have to accept their judgment. When you practice this agreement, you agree that other people have their own unique identity and their own reality that you don’t have anything to do with.

When you accept this, you recognize that the other person’s opinions of you do not necessarily describe you. Caveat: This applies to the good stuff they say about you also.

Taking things personally means you agree with what that person is accusing you of, and you don’t have to. You can choose not to allow it to affect you at all. You don’t have to give it any space in your brain. Being the only one in control of your thoughts is freeing and empowering.

  • Nothing others think or say is really about you.
  • Other people see the world with different eyes.
  • Everyone has a different truth. Your truth will be different than someone else’s truth.
  • If someone gets mad at you, they’re dealing with their own stuff.
  • You aren’t in other people’s minds that much, and you’d be surprised how little people’s thoughts are about you.

How this agreement will shift your life:

When you don’t take anything personally, you will be more open and loving and less fearful of being vulnerable with those you love. There will be a lot less drama in your life.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

The third agreement is the hardest one for me to maintain.

I have a terrible habit of thinking I can read everyone’s mind. When I assume I know why someone does something, it inevitably creates problems in my life, and nine times out of ten, I’m wrong.

Knowing you can’t read minds is freeing; you have no idea what’s going on in someone else’s head.

When a friend of mine doesn’t text me back, and I assume she is mad at me when really, she is just busy, this causes unnecessary negative thinking on my part. Usually, when I release the initial thought based on an assumption, I get a text from her saying, “so sorry, I was busy doing…”

When we make an assumption, we swear they are true, when our assumptions, most likely, are not true.

Assumptions cause misunderstandings between people. This causes unnecessary drama and chaos between our loved ones and us.

  • Be aware and mindful of when you make an assumption. If you aren’t aware you are making one, you won’t be able to stop the thought process.
  • Instead of making an assumption, ask.
  • Seek the truth from friends and family when you are wondering about something they did or said. However, be ready for the truth when you ask it.
  • Practice healthy communication. Communication is the key to healthy relationships. When you are able to communicate openly with friends and family, fewer misunderstandings happen.

How this agreement will shift your life:
When we stop making assumptions, we stop overanalyzing situations, and we start understanding the truth. Once we know the truth, we can make better decisions.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Sometimes I get overwhelmed. I don’t trust my talent, or I feel like I could be doing more, producing more, writing more. When my mind reels with this chatter, I stop and say to myself, “stop worrying, just do your best,” immediately my mind calms, and the negative chatter stops.

When you practice the last agreement, “Always Do Your Best,” it allows the other three agreements to become more deeply ingrained and useful.

The first three agreements can truly work only if you do your best, day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out, and will change your life if practiced and maintained.

Your best will change depending on what life throws at you. Your best when you have a sick child at home or when you’re sick will differ from your best when you are healthy, and your family is healthy.

Allow for your best to be different at different times.

  • Let go of past mistakes and judgments about how you handled the past. It is gone, there is nothing you can about the past. Let it go, and focus on new habits to make the future promising.
  • Learn to say NO. Say NO to those things you don’t want to do. Say NO to the non-essentials in your life, those tasks that aren’t adding value, but rob you of your energy. Say YES to those tasks that fill your life with gratitude, joy, and value.
  • Be present when you are doing the things you love.

How this agreement will shift your life:

You will be more loving to yourself. Practicing self-love will open you up and increase your feelings of love toward your family and friends. Your life will have more flow, and you won’t feel stuck, as if you are going against a wave fighting you. There will be more flow in your day-to-day. Things you want will come more easily.

Just reading The Four Agreements won’t be the magic bullet, and significant change doesn’t happen overnight.

You need to make these agreements a daily practice until they feel like they are part of your being. If your resolve is strong to make these agreements a part of you, through habit, miracles will happen in your life, and transformation will be noticeable.

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Writing on all things California and Texas. It unfolds here. Your daily dose of local news. From politics to food, from celebrity culture to current events. Follow me for the latest updates. Twitter: @girl_thriving

Los Angeles, CA

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