The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, written by Don Miguel Ruiz
It was recommended to me by someone in a meditation group I was in. I can’t remember what they said about it, but on my way home I stopped at Barnes and Nobel and picked up a copy.
That weekend I started it and within 36 hours I was done.
It was a revelation!
People sometimes say that something they read, watch or did changed their life. For me it didn’t change my life as much as it changed how I viewed life.
The main premise of the book is that everyone in the world lives in a dream made up of society’s rules, beliefs, cultures and laws. Through the process of being domesticated we form agreements with ourselves about how to function in this dream. By changing those agreements we can free ourselves from the dream and all of the suffering and negativity that is part of it.
When we are born and as we grow we learn how to dream the way that others around us dream. Society’s dream. We learn what to do, how to think, how to act, what is right, and what is wrong. Our parents, teachers, TV and others hook our attention and use it to share their dream with us.
By using our attention we are trained in what the book calls the domestication of humans. Think about it this way; when you want to train your dog you use rewards and punishments. Through repetition the dog becomes trained. When we are kids and we do something good we are told that we are a “good boy/girl” and this feels good. Yet,when we do something that others deem as bad then we are made to sit in the corner or are punished in some other way. After time we become trained to fear doing anything that might cause us to be punished.
It might be crazy to think that we train our children the same way we train pets, but in ways we do. However unlike pets, we humans have the ability to say “NO.” At a certain point we move past needing others to domesticate us, because by then we have created rules (aka agreements) by which to judge ourselves. This inner judge reviews our actions and decides if we should be rewarded or punished.
How many times have you said to yourself one of the following things: “I am not good enough,” “That was so stupid of me” or “It’s all my fault.” All of those thoughts stem from an inner agreement that we have made with ourselves about how to act. The worst part is because we have such good memories; we have the ability to punish ourselves over and over again.
In order to avoid being punished we strive for perfection. This is often achieved by creating false versions of ourselves. Versions that act and follow the rules that we been trained to believe are real. But what we don’t realize is that we are already perfect.
So how do we live a truer life, one without suffering and punishment? We have to break the agreements that we have made with ourselves that are fear based and replace them with ones that come from love.
According to the book it all starts by adopting the 4 agreements listed below.
1) Be Impeccable with Your Word
2) Don’t Take Anything Personally
3) Don’t Make Assumptions
4) Always Do Your Best
As we break the old agreements by practicing the ones above, we become free from the pain and drama that we see as just another part of life.
They may seem like simple ideas, but they are powerful and not as easy to implement on a daily basis as you might think. The one I struggle with the most is agreement 2) Don’t Take Anything Personally. In my job I am seen as the face of the company to our clients, which means that if they are unhappy they let me know. It can feel like they are mad with me, when in realty they are just frustrated.
However, when I am able to follow them I feel happier and more like my true self. That is why over the next few weeks I will be delving into each agreement further: what it means, how to implement it and my own journey.
I hope that you will join me. Have a great Day