Rooted in traditional Toltec wisdom beliefs, these four principles/agreements are essential steps on the path to a better life.
1) Be Impeccable with your Word
“Impeccability means ‘without sin.’ Impeccable comes from the Latin pecatus, which means ‘sin.’ The im in impeccable means ‘without,’ so impeccable means ‘without sin.’ Religions talk about sin and sinners, but let’s understand what it really means to sin. A sin is anything that you do which goes against yourself. Everything you feel or believe or say that goes against yourself is a sin. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything. Being without sin is exactly the opposite. Being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.” – Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
This is the most important principle and perhaps the most difficult one to honor. To be impeccable with your word means you do not use your word against yourself with guilt or shame. It also means you don’t use your word against others in blaming, criticizing or gossiping. You need to honor your commitments and only make commitments you intend to follow through on.
2) Don’t Take Anything Personally
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally…[mks_highlight color=”#eeee22″]Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.[/mks_highlight]” – Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Imagine 2 scenarios where you’re walking into a gas station and you accidentally bump into the person who’s walking out:
Scenario 1: The person had a great night of sleep, woke up and went to work and found out they were getting a raise. Then on their lunch break, ate a meal that was amazing, and on they way back to work, they stopped at the gas station to buy a scratch and win lotto ticket and they won $5000. As this person is walking out of the gas station, you happen to accidentally bump into them. How do you think this person will react? How will you be treated?
Scenario 2: The same person was up all night tending to a sick child. Then woke up late and in the rush to make in to work, was involved in a minor car accident. Upon arriving to work, gets a written notice for being late. On their lunch break, found a hair in their meal and then on the way back to work, stopped at the gas station to buy some aspirin to help alleviate their killer headache. As this person is walking out of the gas station, you accidentally bump into them. How will this person react? How will this person treat you?
[mks_highlight color=”#eeee22″]The most important thing to understand is that YOU are the exact same person in both scenarios.[/mks_highlight] When you base your opinion of yourself on how others treat you, you’re in trouble! When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
“There is one recurring, persistent, perennial, and dogging personal problem which, more than any other, steals the force and peace of people and ruins projects and enterprises and careers. It is the habit of feeling hurt because of what others do or do not do and what they say or do not say.” – Ervin Seale
3) Don’t Make Assumptions
“We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking—we take it personally—then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why when we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
Do you make assumptions about what someone else is thinking or saying or doing? Can you see how this has the potential for causing unnecessary drama?
“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as you can be.” Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
[mks_highlight color=”#eeee22″]Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.[/mks_highlight] Practice communicating with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, and all the drama that comes with it. This one single principle can completely transform your life and your relationships!
4) Always Do Your Best
“There is just one more agreement, but it’s the one that allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. The fourth agreement is about the action of the first three: Always do your best… Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
These principles take time to master, the secret is to continue trying to do our best to live according to these principles. There will be moments when it seems easy and others where it’s hard. Just being tired, sick, or hungry will affect you…and that’s OK! Because that’s exactly what the 4th principle is about…trying again, and again, and again!
“To make the quickest progress, you don’t have to take huge leaps. You just have to take baby steps—and keep on taking them. In Japan, they call this approach kaizen, which literally translates as ‘continual improvement.’ Using kaizen, great and lasting success is achieved through small, consistent steps. It turns out that slow and steady is the best way to overcome your resistance to change.” – Marci Shimoff (Happy for No Reason)
As Aristotle tells us: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Try to practice living these these principles (agreements) again and again and again and watch how your life will get better and better and better! If you enjoyed this post, you should read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz