The Four Agreements

Toltec Gorge and Eva Cliff

The Four Agreements is a transformative book by Don Miguel Ruiz that was first published in 1997. Rooted in ancient Toltec wisdom. These agreements provide a powerful framework for achieving personal freedom and happiness.

These are the four agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Words
  2. Don’t Take Things Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Before we explore each of these agreements, it will help our understanding if we first look into what Ruiz identifies as the domestication of humans.

Ruiz writes, “Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat, or any other animal. In order to teach a dog, we punish the dog and give it rewards. We train our children, whom we love so much, the same way that we train any domesticated animal: with a system of punishment and reward. We are told, “You’re a good boy,” or “You’re a good girl,” when we do what Mom and Dad want us to do. When we don’t, we are “a bad girl” or “a bad boy.”

We have all made agreements with ourselves. What we choose to accept, our self-belief is the agreement we have with ourselves.

The source of self-belief comes from domestication and in order to break from self-limiting beliefs, the old agreements we made with ourselves must be broken.

The simple ideas in The Four Agreement provide an inspirational code for life.

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word:

The first agreement emphasizes the importance of using language with integrity. “Be Impeccable with Your Word” encourages individuals to speak with truth and kindness, avoiding gossip, lies, and self-judgment. Words have the power to shape reality, both for oneself and others. Being mindful of the impact of our words fosters authenticity.

  1. Don’t Take Anything Personally:

The second agreement invites us to release the need for validation from others. “Don’t Take Anything Personally” underscores the idea that people’s actions and words are a reflection of their own experiences, beliefs, and emotions. By not internalizing external events or opinions, individuals can free themselves from unnecessary suffering. This agreement encourages a healthy detachment, allowing individuals to maintain their emotional well-being regardless of external circumstances.

  1. Don’t Make Assumptions:

Assumptions often lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and unnecessary emotional turmoil. The third agreement, “Don’t Make Assumptions,” urges individuals to communicate openly and seek clarity rather than making unfounded assumptions. By asking questions and expressing thoughts honestly, we can foster clear and effective communication, leading to stronger connections and a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.

  1. Always Do Your Best:

The fourth agreement, “Always Do Your Best,” encourages individuals to give their maximum effort in every aspect of life. However, it also emphasizes the importance of recognizing that one’s best effort will vary from day to day. By letting go of self-judgment and perfectionism, individuals can approach life with commitment and enthusiasm, accepting that circumstances and energy levels may fluctuate. This agreement promotes a healthy balance between striving for excellence and practicing self-compassion.

Application in Daily Life:

Implementing The Four Agreements requires consistent practice and self-reflection. In everyday situations, these principles can be applied to cultivate a mindset of mindfulness, compassion, and authenticity. For example:

  • Workplace Dynamics: Applying the agreements in the workplace can lead to improved teamwork, effective communication, and reduced workplace stress. By being impeccable with words, avoiding assumptions, and not taking things personally, individuals contribute to a positive and collaborative work environment.
  • Interpersonal Relationships: The agreements offer valuable insights into nurturing healthy relationships. By communicating openly, avoiding assumptions, and practicing personal integrity, individuals can build stronger connections and resolve conflicts more effectively.
  • Self-Reflection: Regular self-reflection allows individuals to examine their adherence to the agreements. Journaling, meditation, and mindfulness activities can help you develop self-awareness and evaluate your own improvement.