The kind and intelligent soul Don Miguel Ruiz has often remarked of the potency of four simple shifts in mindset and awareness that anyone can adopt. He calls these “The Four Agreements of Toltec Wisdom”.
Miguel is world-renowned spiritual teacher who’s been featured on major publications, teaching how to enjoy and gain the most from life.
Don Miguel is originally from Mexico, and has grown up practicing ancient Toltec wisdom and philosophies. He has the unique ability to merge this ancient wisdom with modern day physics. Incredibly, everything he’s written has become a national bestseller!
In his New York Times bestseller book, The Four Agreements, he outlines four simple guidelines that are understandable for anyone to apply in their lives.
Each one has its own power and goes into far more depth than I can get into here, but you’ll have to pick up your own copy to find this out…
Each one of the agreements has deeply impacted the way I live and experience my journeys from the moment I read and applied it years back.
I’m going to do a rough outline of each one and hopefully they will benefit your life. I have outlined each agreement, and underneath is my interpretation of how I’ve learned and applied these important principles over the past years.
Let’s get started with the first, and most important, of the agreements in the book:
Four Individual Agreements
Be Impeccable With Your Word
To be impeccable with your word is very powerful and can forever change your life if you’re not already applying it. It means to be a man or woman of your word. To be consistent in your behavior and do what you say.
It is always important to stand by what you believe and let that be communicated through your speech. Say what you’re going to do, and then deliver. Do what you say you will. Show up on time.
Let your word represent you, after all, it’s all we’ve got to prove our credibility to new connections.
Don’t waste your breath talking down about others, because how will that help you in any way? Don’t speak down about yourself either, because you are worthy of what you want to achieve in life if you will put in the work.
If you are upfront with your desires and standards, respect yourself and others, and commit to what you said you would do, you will go far.
The other part of this agreement is that you ensure you have quality communication. You say exactly what you desire, where you want to be or go, what you need someone to do, and tell the truth at all costs.
Be as clear as humanly possible with what you mean when you’re communicating, and do not leave anything open for an assumption, where it could be misinterpreted.
This, like all agreements, takes practice. Put them into practice to see which one is the most difficult for you, then focus in on it accordingly.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Although it may seem like it, what others do is never because of you. This concept is very hard to grasp at first glance. However, if you look deeper into what it actually means, you will find it has worth.
What people say is just a reflection of what they’ve experienced, grown up with, and practiced for their whole lives. The fact that it’s directed to you has no value or relevance to your situation, unless you interpret it that way.
I’ve talked about taking responsibility for only you, and this is no different. You cannot be worried about what others have to say about you, because they’ve crafted what they say over the years to either be helpful, hurtful, or a mix of both.
You don’t need to absorb what someone else says as truth, or allow a negative chain reaction because of it.
Think about this example: someone says something intended to hurt. Two people will respond to this type of situation in two separate ways. One person is going to take it to heart and believe the comment.
The other will shake it off like it’s nothing and move about their day. The fact that this person said what they did is not the issue here. The actual reason, the origin, of this person’s comment was not because you did something.
It was because of who they are, and how they conduct themselves.
Let’s take another example that I like to use to illustrate this point: One person punches two people in the face on separate occasions. Person A gets sad and runs away, and person B responds violently and fires back.
The person gave out the same stimulus, a punch, to both people. The way that two people responded was different because of this. Each person had different values, reactions, beliefs, and control of themselves and when this punch came in, the two people conducted themselves very differently.
They did not react or do what they did because of the guy who punched them; they did that because of who they are.
This is what I mean by not taking things personally. Recognize that the stimulus doesn’t matter, so when someone says or does something the way they do, it’s not because of you. Even though you’re the one interacting with them in the situation.
When you’re not affected by what others do to you, you’re freed to live a life where you’re not constantly caring about others’ opinions, especially the destructive and negative ones.
These don’t help you go anywhere. While I’m happy and open for constructive criticism, from credible sources, I don’t tolerate people who have nothing positive to contribute or seek to tear others down.
There ARE reasons to listen to people who keep you accountable and have your best interest in mind. They will call you out and help you live better.
There is NO reason to listen to naysayers, whiners, negative people, or blame-gamers that never take action.
It is a power move to never take things personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions
This is another pivotal agreement that is hard to understand and implement in the beginning, but gets far easier as repetition and consistency kick in.
To not take things personally really builds off of the former agreement because you need to recognize why people do the things they do, look at the root, and decide whether or not you’re going to let that affect you.
If you have the will and control to not make any assumptions, you will constantly sort things out that people say to or about you. You will always be looking to clear up your communication every chance you get so what you say will not be misconstrued.
When you’re giving directions, or explaining instructions, be as clear as you can so you don’t let anyone else make assumptions either.
In today’s world, oftentimes people use passive-aggressive attacks on each other and you will want to clear these up and give everyone a fair shake to explain himself or herself when you call them on it.
Don’t jump to conclusions, don’t add things up in your head and assume the worst, and definitely don’t bring a huge, built up, assumed case for something in your head if you’ve just constructed the whole thing off of zero facts.
When you make one assumption, it leads you to another, and then another, and pretty soon you’ll have a whole story concocted in your head.
When you unfairly unleash this on someone, you’ll quickly find that it’s far from the truth in most cases.
Also, do all your own research and make tactful conclusions. Don’t assume that someone is teaching you truth because they’re on a stage or in the head of a classroom; research everything you know first hand and be able to back it up. This allows you to have open-minded conversations with “the other side”.
Example: Don’t believe me! Just research if these agreements are right for you.
Exert Your Personal Best
Put 100% effort at all times, no matter what. Be impeccable with what you say to people and then do your personal best to commit and deliver. Your best will differ on a day to day, but make it as consistent as you can.
Keep consistent in your behavior if you want to establish trust, be reliable, and give everything your best effort. Do all it takes to achieve and you will. Don’t settle, don’t take shortcuts, and don’t half bake your efforts.
Consistently check up on yourself to see if you’re really giving it your all. Push yourself to new growth, be pulled by your vision and convene with other high-achievers to see if you’re on track.
Ask other responsible people to keep you accountable with your commitments and your progress. You will have a double benefit here of being challenged and also challenging others.
These four agreements have a synergistic blending effect if you can optimize the best way of how to use them to your advantage.
You will experience a strong synergy between the four as you realize their potential for massive change in your life, and in turn everyone who is in contact with it. You’ll be constantly reminded of how they work together when you seriously implement each one.
They do have a great effect when used wisely and together, and can completely uproot old and disempowering trains of thought.
Train your brain!
Only feed yourself what is going to permit you to continue to grow and evolve as a human, so you can be equipped to turn around and serve the world with your best ability, strengths, and powerful network you create.