These virtues are as simple as they are time-tested and true. The concept comes from the famous book by Don Miguel Ruiz: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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.
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. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
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.
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.
Bonus: The Fifth Agreement
Don Miguel Ruiz specified a fifth agreement in a later book. It is as follows.
5. Be Skeptical, but Learn to Listen
“Be skeptical because most of what you hear isn’t true. You know that humans speak with symbols and that symbols are only the truth because we agree, not because they are really the truth. But the second half of the agreement is learn to listen, and the reason is simple: When you learn to listen, you understand the meaning of the symbols that people are using; you understand their story, and the communication improves a lot.” Read a valuable summary of the fifth agreement on the Four Agreements website.
A illustrative, animated summary of the famous book.
The 5 Best Ideas from The 4 Agreements: This vlogger gives his interpretation and most valuable take-aways from the book.
A helpful and concise summary from superHolly, a prolific youtube blogger.
Agreeing with the Four Agreements – An article from Psychology Today relating the Four Agreements to ancient Toltec wisdom and modern psychology.
Another Summary – Perfectly elaborated, but only a little bit. By a bed & breakfast in Canada. 🙂
thefouragreements.com – The book’s home website offers a course and other resources.
Cultivating the 4 Agreements – An 8-minute podcast clip summarizing, reviewing, and reflecting on the book.
Ultimate Health Podcast – A few podcast episodes feature the author’s son, who carries on the work of Toltec wisdom.
These quotes are taken directly from the book. Enjoy!
“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.”
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
“If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self pity, suffering and tears.”
“But it is not what I am saying that is hurting you; it is that you have wounds that I touch by what I have said. You are hurting yourself. There is no way I can take this personally.”
“Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are. Expressing what you are is taking action.”
“You can only be you when you do your best. When you don’t do your best you are denying yourself the right to be you. That’s a seed that you should really nurture in your mind. You don’t need knowledge or great philosophical concepts. You don’t need the acceptance of others. You express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others.”
“We have the need to be accepted and to be loved by others, but we cannot accept and love ourselves. The more self-love we have, the less we will experience self-abuse. Self-abuse comes from self-rejection, and self-rejection comes from having an image of what it means to be perfect and never measuring up to that ideal. Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are.”
“The world is very beautiful and very wonderful. Life can be very easy when love is your way of life. You can be loving all the time. This is your choice. You may not have a reason to love, but you can love because to love makes you so happy. Love in action only produces happiness. Love will give you inner peace. It will change your perception of everything.”
“When you feel good, everything around you is good, when everything around you is great, everything makes you happy. You are loving everything that is around you, because you are loving yourself. Because you like the way you are. Because you are happy with your life. You are happy with the movie that you are producing, happy with your agreements with life. You are at peace, and you are happy. You live in that state of bliss where everything is so wonderful, and everything is so beautiful. In that state of bliss you are making love all the time with everything that you perceive.”