Buy it on Amazon.
A therapist of unbreakable sanity told me she encourages her clients to read “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.” It’s clear. It’s short. It seems simple. It’s radical — it urges you to liberate yourself from the belief system you inherited from parents, schools, churches and mass media. Instead, use your words. Make agreements that have moral and practical force. Happiness might just follow.
These are the Four Agreements:
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, their own dream. 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.
That’s it. The book is 164 small pages with big print and double-spacing. Since its publication in 1997, 7.2 million copies have been sold in the United States and it has been translated into 40 languages. Don Miguel Ruiz — born in rural Mexico to parents who were spiritual teachers, the youngest of 13 children, grew up to be a surgeon, and then… for quite a lot more about his story, click here. Ruiz is, clearly, saying something people want to hear. [To buy the paperback from Amazon for $6.48, click here. To buy the Kindle edition for $6.48, click here.]
If the book is just the agreements, you have it right here — there’s no need to buy it. The thing is, as I read it, I found myself underlining sentences. And nodding in agreement. Why was this happening? It is uncomfortable to admit it, but I found that the four agreements were consistent with ideas I’d encountered before and thought before. They point to a merger of the ancient and the right-now, or as it is written on Ruiz’s website: “Combining Toltec mythology and scientific perspectives, don Miguel has been able to merge ancient wisdom with modern physics and practical common-sense.” Sure. Whatever. Or maybe I respond because the world seems suddenly and impossibly complex now — out of control, outright bonkers — that even I, who loves ambiguity, crave a few simple answers.
My happiness is my responsibility? Oh, boy. That is tough. I’d have to give up expectations of my romantic partner, I can’t blame my parents for twisting me into some psychological knot I can’t figure out how to unravel, and on and on like that. Ruiz is blunt on every point. Especially this: your biggest problem is your belief system, and if you’d show even a modicum of courage, you could tell your beliefs to be piss off.
This sure isn’t the way they talked where I went to school.
Here are some lines I marked. You tell me: true for you? Or New Age bullshit?
We need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs.
The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake.
Death is not the biggest fear; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive.
Humans agree to help each other suffer. If you have the need to be abused, you will find it easy to be abused by others. If you are with people who need to suffer, something in you makes you abuse them… Addiction to suffering is an agreement that is reinforced every day.
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.
The most important agreements are the ones you make with yourself.
We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free.
If you look at your life you will find many excuses to suffer, but a good reason to suffer you will not find. The same is true for happiness. The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.
It all comes down, I think, to just these few words: “Impeccability of the word can lead you to personal freedom, success, and abundance. You can attain the kingdom of heaven from this one agreement: Be impeccable with your word.”
You can’t say he doesn’t set the bar high.
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