BOOK REVIEW: The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz

By far my favorite book. A very simplistic way to a happier life, free of worry, stress and anger. The first introduction and chapter are really out there about a young Mexican mystic who woke up to a revelation about everything being about Love, God and Light, and sounds like something straight out of the looney bin.

But as the book goes on, it goes into something that has been a recurring theme in a lot of self help books, Buddhist philosophy, and other items I have been reading. The fact that everything we see is an illusion, that nothing is real, our reality is really our own idea we make ourselves and essentially everything is a product or our perception and previous ideas we had about something to create Judgment.  We judge everything from the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to bed, based on our illusion of what is right, wrong, good, bad, etc. We form Agreements based on these judgments and illusions and follow them blindly our whole life. All these agreements stick with us, and following them blindly is hurting our chances at inner peace.

The book is about forming just 4 agreements that change the way we act and react to everything. Eliminate everything we have ever believed, and look at things through the lens of the 4 agreements, and it changes the whole background, conception and belief.

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

My interpretation of being impeccable with your word is really just watching not only what we say to others, but what we say to ourselves. being impeccable means “without sin” and sin is described as “anything you do or say that goes against yourself”. So being impeccable with your word means to not say or think words that can hurt you or others in any way. If you speak badly about someone else, they don’t like you, others don’t trust you not to speak badly of them when they are not around, all in all, speaking badly about anyone (including yourself) goes against yourself. My conception is that it does not defer from constructive criticism when asked for, but also following the golden rule when it comes to that. I think this is the most important agreement, insofar as just by being impeccable with your word, life will be inherently better and you will be at peace with yourself and those around you.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

My interpretation of not taking anything personally boils down to the core that the only people responsible for our actions and reactions are ourselves. Extrapolating that, if someone says something bad about you, disparages you, is a jerk to you or has any emotion directed at you, it is their own action and reaction, not yours, that caused them to act or say what they did. You have the power to act and react on what they say, but you can not take personally what they say, because they have a whole life of different experiences that made them act or say what they did which may be drastically different from yours. It is very hard to not take anything personally, the author goes so far as to say that “even if someone shoots you in the head, it is not personal” because it was their action and choice. The hard part is not taking anything personally, to step outside yourself and the other person and look at it from a perspective that they always have a choice in what they do, and its their choice, and it is our choice how we react, just dont react taking it personally. It is a tough one.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

My interpretation here is that I think this one is the hardest of the four agreements, to not assume anything and ask questions until you get to the core of complete understanding. Don’t assume X did this because of Y, don’t assume you are bad until you try, don’t assume this blog is a complete waste of time and people won’t take anything from it. I make assumptions all day long and until I actually examine the assumption, I realize how wrong the assumption could be. If someone is mad, are they mad at me? Did something happen and they are just taking it out on me? Are they just an angry person who is mad at everything? We don’t know until we ask enough questions to figure out if we did something that made them mad or if they are just having a bad day and we really do anything to piss them off. Trying to find someone’s motives are impossible without asking, we don’t know if people act out of selfishness or altruism, there is no way to know until we ask the questions, but never assume anything or you will put yourself in unnecessary misery.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

My interpretation is that this agreement puts all the other agreements under its wing. It is impossible to be impeccable with your word, not take anything personally and not make assumptions, but we must do our best at trying. Doing anything half-ass questions whether it was even worth doing. Even a bad workout at the gym, you did your best by at least getting to the gym, and doing the workout to be best you could for how you were feeling. You must do your best at being impeccable with your word, as you will slip up, and that slip up could cause problems, and those problems grow. Same with taking things personally and making assumptions. The further down the rabbit hole you go, the harder it is to climb back out to a fresh start. If you always do your best, you no longer have the largest cause of depression regrets, if you did your best, there is nothing more you can do, and you have to leave it at that and not regret anything. Always do your best is the simplest of the agreements, but as we know about eating right and working out, what is simple is not always easy.

Starting each day, keeping those Four agreements in your mind as you approach the day, I go to bed happier knowing I did my best following the other 3 agreements and will wake up even more peaceful tomorrow.

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