There are many good and effective methods to improve our lives, but there is one which is unique in its simplicity, and it’s known as The Four Agreements.
The Four Agreements is a concept created by Mexican Doctor Don Miguel Ruiz. Ruiz began his professional career as a conventional doctor, stepping away from his family’s tradition of Toltec Shamanism. The Toltecs were ancient Mexican’s seers who possessed great knowledge regarding the human experience.
After suffering a near fatal car accident, Ruiz went back to his roots and made himself an apprentice Shaman. He resurfaced with a quest: to spread the important and vast knowledge of the Toltec tradition to the rest of the world. But ancient traditions are not exactly what you would call small talk, and so Don Miguel Ruiz came up with The Four Agreements as an easy instrument to improve our human existence.
An introduction to The Four Agreements
Our lives are perceived through words: any emotion, feeling or experience we have is translated by our brain into words. That’s just how we as humans work. Depending on the words we use to describe our lives, our reality could be positive or negative.
Our life is shaped by our words; depending on the words we use, our experience will be positive or negative.
Those words are being used by us to make what Don Miguel Ruiz calls agreements, and these agreements shape our lives. Let me explain: when we are kids, our parents define to us some standards of behaviour: what’s good and what’s not, how we should behave and what will happen to us if we don’t follow those rules bestowed upon us. Eventually, these standards become internalized into agreements or unconscious instructions for life.
In order to gain real independence, we need to break the chains of those agreements we have unconsciously made. But if we break every agreement we accepted at the same time, we might lose our ground. This is why Don Miguel Ruiz came up with four simple agreements we can consciously make so we can establish a firm ground before we start breaking those old agreements we have unconsciously accepted.
The First Agreement – Be Impeccable With Your Word
At any given moment, we can choose to use the power of our words in a positive or a negative direction. This goes for both our external and internal dialogue – we can gossip, criticize and be hard on ourselves, or we can be encouraging, emphatic and loving. It’s up to us, but you should know that our words create our reality, and we act upon this reality we have created.
By being impeccable with our words, we are choosing positive over negative: our hearts might be broken, but we’ll use kind words to soothe ourselves; a tragedy might occur, but we’ll only use our words to encourage ourselves and our loved ones; we might not always get what we want or like what we get, but we’ll use the power of our words impeccablly to move on and grow from any experience.
Looking at the bright side is not always easy, and for that we have the next three agreements.
The Second Agreement – Don’t Take Anything Personally
Byron Katie says that there are three types of problems: our own problems, other people’s problems, and greater problems associated with the reality we live in. The only kind of problem we can deal with is our own.The only kind of problem we can deal with is our own. Click To Tweet
Nothing others do is because of you. Every person perceives reality in a unique, personal way, and just because of that, the way others treat you says probably more about them than about you.
No matter what, don’t take anything personally. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be sympathetic towards others or that you shouldn’t help other people. It just means that in order to have a more peaceful life, you should deal with your own problems and with the things that you can manage and control.
The Third Agreement – Don’t Make Assumptions
We are always making assumptions based on our own personality and construction of reality.
Let’s set the following scenario. I go to work tomorrow, say hi to my boss, he doesn’t reply, so I suddenly assume the reasons: he didn’t answer because I did something he didn’t like or because he is not happy with my performance. I may go even further and take his attitude personally and think that he’s doing something directed to me.
Wouldn’t asking questions be better than making assumptions? Maybe the reason why he didn’t answer was because he was thinking on his own problems and didn’t even notice I was there.
Never make assumptions because they will based more on you and your perception of reality than on what is really happening. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings and drama.
The Fourth Agreement – Always Do You Best
No matter what, if you want to achieve your goals, you should always do your best. You should know that your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy and feeling well than when you are sick or in a bad mood, but as long as you always do your best, you will not be filled with guilt (which happens when you do less than you can), and you will not feel exhausted (which happens when you try to do more than you can cope with).
As you can see, these agreements are very simple. Adopting them could be pretty hard, but it could be one of the most life-changing things you will ever do.