After reading online reviews of this book, I decided to join the bandwagon and buy it. This book is literally, as it states, practical. It’s a great read about how and why we may relate to the world as we do.
As you know, I am forever curious about human behaviour, emotion and interaction. I find it fascinating that we can change our habits, perspectives and mindset once we are exposed to a new way of living!
The Four Agreements are as follows:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
I read this book in chronological order. Surprisingly, it helped to read each practical guide in this way. To digest the information and apply it accordingly takes time and patience.
If you’re anything like me, curious about human behaviour and finding ways to improve the way we treat others, I’d definitely recommend this book. Below, we can look at each Agreement and how I personally used them to improve my life. I’ve also included a link to the book so you can try these out for yourself!
1. Be impeccable with your word.
This was an interesting agreement. Ruiz defines this simply as not gossiping about others.
When we’re so engrossed in other people’s lives, it doesn’t give us much space to practice self-awareness or empathy for others. We can get caught in a cycle of rumours about people we probably don’t know too well. What’s the point? Not only is this harmful for others, it sets a negative tone in our own minds.
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
As we are emotional beings, there are many moments that we can lose our cool or spit out the wrong thing at the wrong time. That’s normal. Paying attention to the way we think and speak can help alleviate awkward foot-mouth situations.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
This agreement really hit home for me. Ruiz explains this rule simply: what other people say and do are a projection of their own reality.
When someone would correct my mistakes, it felt like a personal attack. The story re-played in my head: “I don’t know anything, of course I made a mistake. I can’t do anything right.” I struggled with self-confidence and self-doubt. I was told often that I didn’t know anything, so I believed it.
If I could remove the attachment to another’s words, I wouldn’t find myself in this toxic cycle of pain and belittling.
I fought so hard, for so long to begin changing my mindset. Changing a story we’ve told ourselves for years is difficult to say the least. It’s confronting. It will always be a work in progress. But progress is still progress! That’s a win!
3. Don’t make assumptions
Yet another agreement that resonated deeply for me. I was beginning to think that this book could address universal social/personal problems with unbelievable ease.
The way my brain has been wired, unfortunately jumps straight to conclusions.
Although expecting the worst may prepare us for certain challenges, it doesn’t help in daily life.
Assuming the worst about others or ourselves is sabotaging. It can affect how we trust others and maintain relationships.
Instead of making assumptions, ask. Having difficult conversations have been a struggle for me. I will say after years of working through my fears and building up my confidence, asking to clarify something has improved my life exponentially.
It can be difficult to know the line between clarifying a topic/opinion and starting a fire. So tread lightly while putting this agreement in practice. Our laundry doesn’t need to be aired to the general public.
Change first starts with you. So instead of replaying an assumption in your head, remind yourself that there is no evidence for it. If that person/group of people have not expressed their dislike toward you, don’t assume they do. Of course, we can tell through behaviour and social settings how someone may feel toward us. If it is hurtful or toxic, then leave.
4. Always do your best
This agreement was the easiest to digest for me. Growing up, I knew that my best was the only option.
I learned that nobody is perfect. We make mistakes and we may hurt others in the process. I learned that our best may not ever be good enough to some people. That’s okay. Take the lesson and move forward.
Of course, being hard on ourselves isn’t the way to go about accomplishing all our goals. There must be balance between work and play.
Doing your best can look different when comparing to another person, so just focus on living life according to your best ability. Our best effort changes from moment to moment. For example, we cannot expect the same quality of work or productiveness when we’re sick. Be mindful of yourself and others.
At the end of the day, if you know you tried your best, you’re saving yourself from your own and even others’ judgement. No one can take that away from you. Stand tall in your accomplishments!
Have you read this book yet? If so, which agreement did you resonate with most? What did you find challenging?