This post is based on a book titled The Four Agreements (shocker title?) by Don Miguel Ruiz. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, perhaps not, but it’s something my mom brought to my family’s attention years ago and I wanted to share it with you all. The 4 agreements will change your perspective on how to gain a healthier mindset.
The 4 agreements, as I said, change perspective. You can follow them as a guide or simply be enlightened by a new way of thinking, but you will learn how to react and think in a calm manner toward uncomfortable circumstances. In other words, it can bring a peaceful mindset to let in more love than cynicalness.
Something I like to say is “practice makes progress”. Because guess what? Perfection doesn’t exist – I had to learn this the hard way. Putting these agreements into practice can progress your overall happiness. Michelle Obama says, “Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”
The 4 Agreements
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
In other words, stay true to it. Words are our superpower: we can alter someone’s day with a sentence. To take it further, we can change someone’s life by boosting their confidence or destroy it by instructing them to do something against their will.
Speak the truth and invest in honesty. When I was young I would tell a small lie here and there because I was afraid to get into trouble (who didn’t?). But I’ve realized telling the truth is freeing, and I’ve taken responsibility for my actions which means I’m progressing, maturing.
Another piece of the author’s advice in the 4 agreements is to avoid gossiping. It’s not worth your breath to bring others down, or yourself. If you say, “You’re stupid”, what does that say about you and how you use your power? Or on the flip side, if someone is saying this to you perhaps the relationship needs reconsidering. Use the power of your word for truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
In one of my favorite books, Think Like A Monk, Jay Shetty reminds us of something Charles Horton Cooley wrote: “I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” We wrap ourselves in what we think others think of us.
When you take something personally, you agree with what is said. With the “You’re stupid” example, you only become upset because you believe that’s what they think of you, when in fact, their words are a representation of themselves.
Everyone has their own world in their heads; their thoughts, days, emotions, etc. are different than yours so when we take something personally we make the assumption they know what is in our world when they don’t. How can you possibly believe when they say you are stupid when you are not?
This one is easy to forget out of the 4 agreements, but know what you are. What they say isn’t about you, it’s a reflection on them.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Ahh the power of communication. This is one of my favorite of the 4 agreements because by misusing our words, we can get lost in making assumptions that simply aren’t true.
Have you ever not received a text back for hours or even days, and thought they must be dead… or maybe they’re going to break up with me… or maybe it was something I said, I better reread it a million times and overthink…Yep, me too. So take a deep breath, and change perspective.
We believe what we come up with. As humans, we like to make sense of things, so we search for a reason but we forget reality. If that annoying someone tells you “You’re stupid”, you’ve made the assumption they know you to be. Communicate with others as clearly as possible to avoid misinterpretation and poor judgment.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment. When you’re sick, your best is far different than when you’ve had four cups of coffee and you’re looking cute today. So keep that in mind!
If you do your best with whatever task is in front of you, you will avoid self-judgment, regret, and frustration. I know someone who was applying for jobs during the pandemic and she kept getting turned down (I blame the times). What amazed me is that she didn’t give in to the constant rejection. She was doing her best in every application and was proud of her experience, which meant when the company said no, she said thank you for your time, this position must not be for me. The right one will arrive.
Stay true to your word, your superpower. Don’t take anything personally. Making assumptions are useless and false. Do your very best. Even if you try one of these 4 agreements, put it into practice to see what happens, how you feel. A small step in thought and behavior can create big impacts on everyone around you.
Considering the book? It’s a best seller. Click here – The Four Agreements