If you have yet to read Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” I urge you to do so. It’s one of those small books with grand effects. A book that should be required for entrance into life.
Naming the agreements does not have the same profundity as reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s explanation of them, but for the sake of brevity, here they are, in quotes from the master:
- “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…”
- “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…”
- “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…”
- “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…”
Every time I go through these agreements in my head, I forget one. Not the same one, but one. Always one. I can only name three. I have to look up the fourth. And when I look it up, I cannot believe I could not remember that agreement, because that agreement has changed my life. All of them have, but clearly, I still have a lot of work to do to master these tenets.
I am no sage nor shaman nor Toltec spiritualist. But I have written four more agreements. For myself. Maybe for you. They come from mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned. They come from existential longings, from a deep desire to love life and make the most of it.
- Do What You Love. Can we all agree to do what we love? Can we all agree to put aside the pretenses about career and security and prestige, and do something we love doing? It’s not going to be perfect, but if you love something, you forget about it being perfect. It’s enough to just do it.
- Don’t Pass Judgement. Don’t judge others, don’t judge yourself. A wise friend whose lived and traveled all over the world had the recent reaction to judgment: “they are doing the best they can.” What if we are all doing the best we can? (See fourth agreement above: Your best is going to change from moment to moment.) We don’t know what other people have gone through, we don’t know what they are up against, how can we judge their behavior as poor? I see this as a hybrid of Always Do Your Best and Don’t Make Assumptions, but for me and for many, it deserves its own bullet point.
- Surround Yourself With Positivity. This is going to be hard for idealists to hear, but it’s the truth: not everyone has your greatest good in mind. Not everyone wants you to shine. Different people have different values and different lessons to learn and different purposes to fulfill. You must edit the people you let in. You cannot avoid all toxic people, but you can close yourself to them. You deserve love, you deserve good vibes. Don’t settle for less.
- Practice Forgiveness. Towards others, but also, yourself. You can talk your way into being right in an argument. You can convince yourself you made a huge mistake in your head. But for every moment we hold onto a grievance, we taint the next moment, and the next. The sooner we forgive, the sooner we can return to our natural state of joy.