Updated: Jan 28, 2021
This is one of the books I recently read, The Four Agreements. … with over 7 million copies sold all around the world, this is a wonderful book based on ancient Toltec teachings and is filled with wisdom. Don Miguel who wrote this book was a surgeon when he had a near-death experience that changed his life forever. In his book, Don Miguel suggests that, as children, we did not have the opportunity to choose our beliefs, so other people put it there for us. They programmed us with their belief system. Then we grew up. And this programming controls every aspect of our lives. How we see things, how we judge other people, and ourselves. Some of these beliefs are useful but many are inaccurate, unrealistic, or even harmful. We did not consciously choose to believe in them. Beliefs like, I am not good enough, I am not intelligent enough, I am not lovable and so many other limiting beliefs. We want to be loved but we can't love ourselves. And why is that? Because someone somewhere in our childhood put that idea in our mind that ‘I might not be lovable’. These inaccurate beliefs, that we have accepted consciously or unconsciously, are the source of suffering in our lives. We may not be responsible for putting it there but we are responsible for changing that. It is possible to wake up and change all these inaccurate beliefs. The first step to change is awareness. You need to become aware that these unrealistic beliefs exist somewhere inside you. Then you got to forgive yourself and others, let the past go. Jesus on the cross said: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do”. Forgiveness creates space so you can bring change to your life.
Don Miguel proposes four agreements that if you make these agreements with yourself, your life will change dramatically.
The first agreement is to be impeccable with your words. Words are much more powerful than we realize. Impeccable means without sin and anything that you do say or believe that goes against yourself or others is a sin. Be impeccable with your words, means don't use your words against yourself or others. You go against yourself when you judge or blame yourself for anything. This can happen in your head without even speaking. Personally, this is something that I need to work on. Last time that I wanted to give a presentation for my Ph.D. thesis. I was judging myself for procrastination and the more I judged and blame myself, Not only it became harder to start preparing for the presentation, but I also felt so bad about myself. You can always measure the implacability of your wards by watching how you feel about yourself or how much you love yourself. So be aware of the power of your words. Get in the habit of saying only what you mean and meaning only what you say. When in doubt, say nothing at all.
The second agreement is don't take anything personally. Imagine, you are walking in a street and someone comes to you and say: “hey you are so ugly”. How you're gonna feel about that? If you take it personally and believe what they're saying is true, you're probably going to feel terrible. But you should know that nothing, absolutely nothing that other people do or say to you is about you. When someone calls you ugly, it says a whole lot more about them and their problems. When you take it personally, you are admitting you believe in it. Remember, what people do or say is based on their programming, and by not taking it personally, we learn to become less reactive and more detached. Sometimes it may be tough to practice this agreement, but one of my favorite teachers, Marisa Peer, Which I love her, She has an amazing TED talk and in it, she talks about how you can avoid rejection and create a connection by not letting in negative opinions
Third agreements. Don't make assumptions. We tend to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. Be aware of your natural tendency to assume things about yourself, others, and the world around you. Don Miguel says we make assumptions when we believe we know what others are thinking when we believe we know their point of view, but we don't know and we only project our own belief onto others. Unfortunately, we tend to make negative assumptions and often jump to negative conclusions. This can lead to useless arguments that could have simply been prevented. Just stop assuming you know and ask questions instead. Look and listen without judgment and have the courage to ask questions and clarify, make sure the communication is clear. Once you hear the answer, you don't have to make assumptions because you will know the truth. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.
Forth and final agreement. Always do your best. This is my favorite agreement. Always do the very best you can. But don't worry if your best is good enough or not. Instead, accept that your best will change from moment to moment depending on the condition within and around you. Don Miguel says, doing your best, regardless of quality, is the only thing you must ask of yourself. When you are doing your best, you are enjoying the action without expecting a reward. The fourth agreement allows you to practice and make all the other agreements become a habit. So do what you can with what you have. From where you are and you can ask nothing more of yourself.
He suggests, When you fail to implement an agreement, it's okay. Start again and then again until it becomes ingrained in you, in who you are.
If you liked what I put in this short animated summary, I strongly recommend reading the book. It's only a hundred and fifty pages and it's filled with wisdom. Also please check out our Youtube channel. You can find more book summaries there.