A Happiness Journey

The Four Agreements

The Toltec are an ancient civilisation known throughout Mexico as the women and men of knowledge. For millennia their knowledge has been concealed but now we are lucky enough to have this knowledge available to us once again, and that knowledge is being shared through the masters and students of the Toltec lineages. I am not one of these people, and have no lineage to these people so I will respectfully put into my own words that which I have learned from Don Miguel Ruiz. I just believe that this knowledge is so important to the health of our society and our own lives that it needs to be shared in any way we can.


I have read many books on personal development and metaphysics over the years but this is the first book I’ve read where it sums up, in four very simple and easy to follow steps, the ‘rules’ for life, if you want some semblance of peace. It made such perfect sense to me when I read it that I knew it was something that needed to be shared in these current times where mental wellbeing is so important. Often the books that describe how to find peace in troubling times are fairly esoteric and require some background knowledge or previous practice to be able to fully decipher, understand and absorb the principles laid out. This book though, called The Four Agreements, made it so simple that even a child can follow it.


There are thousands of agreements we make with ourselves, our loved ones, other people, and society. The most important being the agreements we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, what we feel, what we believe, what’s possible and what’s not, what’s acceptable and what’s not, and how to behave. The only problem is that many of the agreements we have are designed to make us suffer. There are agreements on how we need to make ourselves perfect so we are loved by society. How we need to appear on the outside so we fit in. How we need to behave so people don’t think we’re too much or too different. How to be liked, and how to be loveable. We make agreements that say we will play small so others aren’t offended by us. Agreements that say we need to make a certain amount of money or drive a certain car or live life in a specific way so that we aren’t flagged as being a problem, or someone to be monitored. All the thousands of agreements we silently make to ourselves are what make us all feel unworthy and unlovable on a deep level. They’re the agreements that make us judge others and look down on them for their differences. They’re the agreements that make us speak from a place of jealousy, fear, anger or hurt. These agreements drain us of our energy and our personal power as we’re constantly maintaining the façade that we show all others. If you want to live a life full of fulfillment and joy you need to have the courage to break the fear-based agreements and claim back your personal power. Each time you break an agreement that sees you play small, or not live with integrity in your self-worth, the power you used to create it comes back to you. If you adopt the new Four Agreements, you will create enough personal power for you to change the entire system of your old agreements.


Whilst it takes a lot of practice and will to adopt these four new agreements, if you persist, the transformation in your life will be amazing.


Agreement #1 – Be Impeccable with Your Word


This is the most important agreement and also the hardest agreement to honour. The word is the most powerful force we have as humans; it is our power to express our thoughts, and therefore create our reality. Like a sword with 2 edges your word has the power to create something incredibly beautiful or destroy everything around you. Throughout history people in power have used their words to manipulate entire countries into destroying the lives of many innocent people. Hitler used words to activate peoples fear and all over the world humans destroyed each other because they were afraid of each other.


The human mind is like a garden full of fertile ground where, once planted, like seeds, ideas, opinions and concepts can grow and flourish. So we must be so careful what seeds we sow in others because our words will take root in their minds and beliefs can flourish from the power of our word. Imagine you are having a bad day and you snap at a loved one. You say something you didn’t mean, that wasn’t even true, about their appearance. Even if you apologise at a later time for your ill intended words, what you said will be embedded in the garden of their mind and will begin to take root and grow. The poison of our careless word will create a belief in the other person that they are not loveable because of this perceived flaw that you have pointed out. Studies have shown that our beliefs can physically change our health. There have been recorded cases of when doctors have mixed up patients records and given a terminal prognosis to the wrong patient. However, the patient now believes he is going to die, so he does. Just the power of hearing a word from the mouth of such an influential person can actually cause our physiology to change and create death. I spoke of belief before in previous blogs so I won’t go into it again but there are countless examples of when the power of belief has done miraculous things, both positive and negative.


Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make it an agreement and it becomes part of our belief system. We then pour our energy into this belief system and the spell becomes incredibly difficult to break.


The power of the word is all too often misused to curse, blame, find guilt and destroy. Whilst we do, on occasion, use it for the right reasons, the fear we have inside us causes us mostly to spread our personal poison, even passively. Being passively aggressive is our way of spreading our poison in the guise of something else. It creates our excuse that we weren’t really spreading our poison because we successfully managed to package it up to look like something less ugly. Misuse of the word is how we pull each other down and keep each other in a state of fear and doubt. A way of providing company for ourselves as we too live in these states and it feels so normal for us.


Being impeccable with your word is meant for yourself as well as for others. If you call yourself stupid often enough you will believe it. Your internal words can be just as poisonous as the words you share with others.


If we adopt the first agreement and become impeccable with our word, eventually, all the emotional poison will be cleared from our own minds. Your mind will no longer accept those misused words thrown at you by others. You can measure the impeccability of your own word by your level of self-love. How much you love yourself is directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.


Agreement #2 – Don’t take Anything Personally


Once we understand the first agreement, it is easy to see how others can misuse their own words. They may do this by accident or on purpose, it may come with the intent to harm or it may not. But either way, their words are theirs. They come from the place that they’re in at that moment in time, formed from their beliefs and their opinions. So whatever happens, don’t take any of their words personally, because they are only personal to them, not to you.


The danger comes when you actually believe something they’ve said. Their words have triggered a deep belief in yourself that says “yep, they’re right, I am stupid, it must be true”. As soon as you believe what they have said you are allowing their poison to go straight through you. As children our survival instinct causes us to believe that everything revolves around us. Everything is because of us and something we did. It’s how our young brains learn how to survive in our tribes so we are accepted and we learn the rules of how to be. However, nothing anyone else does is ever because of us, it is always because of themselves. All people live in their own worlds which are completely different to the world we live in. It is their view of the world coloured by their own personal upbringings, beliefs, and life experiences. Their points of view comes from all the programming they received. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know and understand what is in our world, and we let them impose their world on our world. When you accept their emotional garbage, you take it as your own and it becomes yours.


What other people think of you is really none of your business. It is only what they are seeing through their personal lens and it doesn’t make it true.


When you learn to keep this second agreement, you can venture on through life with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you with the words that they had not been impeccable with.


Agreement #3 – Don’t Make Assumptions


When I was younger and going through sales training I was taught not to AssUMe as it makes an Ass out of U and Me. However, I don’t think I ever actually applied this to my every day life and completely underestimated the extent to which humans make assumptions. We make assumptions about everything! The problem is that once we assume it to be true it becomes true to us. We create entire stories in our heads about the other person based on an assumption we have made that is more often than not completely false. Once we have made the assumption about what they are thinking or why they did something, we then take it personally, and act accordingly. Often our action is to use our word to spread poison. When we make an assumption, that prompts a misunderstanding, we are creating a whole lot of drama for nothing. We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally. What can make an assumption a million times worse is when we start gossiping about our assumptions, which spreads our poison far and wide, infecting the fertile gardens of many other people.


Being afraid to ask for clarification can cause us to make an assumption. When we then believe our assumption, we then start to defend our assumption, and try to make someone else wrong. It is always safer to ask questions than make an assumption, as assumptions set us (and others) up for suffering.


Making assumptions in our relationships is really asking for problems. Once we assume our partners know what we think, we stop being explicit in saying exactly what we want. Then, when they do something we perceive to be wrong, we are hurt, because they should have read our mind, or they should have known us so well in that moment. When we assume someone else can read our mind, we are setting them up to fail as they will never meet our expectations. When we assume that someone else feels the same way about something as we do, we are setting ourselves up to fail as we are making decisions about our lives on false information. Making assumptions in relationships leads to countless misunderstandings and many fights with people we’re supposed to love.


We also make assumptions about ourselves and these cause just as many problems. We assume we’re not capable of something or we grossly over or underestimate ourselves, usually based on other people opinions or outdated information we have about ourselves. Whether you believe you can or you can’t then you’re right. Maybe we need to stop making assumptions about ourselves and make the right enquiries?


Just imagine how much your communication style will change once you stop making assumptions? Think of how many conflicts will be avoided and how many misunderstandings you will avoid. Stop telling yourself stories that you’ve made up in your own head and get your facts right. Say to someone “I have created a story in my head where you have looked at me in a certain way and I have taken it to mean that you don’t like me. Is that true?”. I’d place a bet that the story we’d created couldn’t be further from the truth.


Agreement #4 – Always do your best


It is this final agreement that truly cements the previous three and causes them to become ingrained habits. Under every circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. Be aware that your best will fluctuate from moment to moment, and, will never be the same from one moment to the next. Sometimes your best will be outstanding and sometimes it will not. Your best on a good day will be better than your best on a bad day. Your best when you’re energised and happy will be better than late in the day when you’re tired and hungry. As you change and grow though, and as you form new healthier habits, your best at your worst will gradually become better than your best at your previous worst, because you will just be a better version of you. Regardless of the quality of your best, just keep doing it, no more and no less.


As long as you do your best in every situation and circumstance, then there is no way you can ever judge yourself poorly. If you don’t judge yourself poorly then you will no longer feel guilt or regret. By being your best always, you will live life with productivity. You will be good to yourself, your family, your community, to everything. This very action will make you feel so happy because you will be acting out of your desire to do your best, and not because you are expecting a reward. Working for the reward creates suffering because you will always be in resistance to what you are doing. However, if you take action just for the sake of doing it, without expecting a reward, then you will find enjoyment in everything you do. Even if that enjoyment is merely the act that you did something to the best of your ability. Satisfaction can be found in the most awful of tasks when we go at it with the intention of doing our best. Action is about living fully, inaction is the way we deny life.


The first three agreements only work if you’re doing your best. Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word or that you’ll never take anything personally, or make another assumption. These habits have been formed over many years and reinforced by society in every forum, from our schools to our media and our peers. But if you are constantly doing your best to live by these four new assumptions, then your best in all of these areas will make you better in all of these areas. And whilst you are on this journey of creating new habits, the action of being your best will allow you to learn these new behaviours free from guilt and judgement.


Becoming aware of these habits we have of making assumptions and taking things personally is easier said than done. However, it is becoming aware of these things, and then continuously taking action upon these things, that will start to create new neural pathways in our brain and re-write our habits to create new ways of being. Taking action over and over again, strengthens our will and establishes a solid foundation for new habits to grow.


When we create these new agreements, we are removing the environment for the old agreements to survive. We are breaking those ties that keep them so bonded to us. Once the ties to our old agreements of fear and judgement are broken, they can fall away. Once we are able to look back at old situations and remove the assumption or the offence we took, imagine the old pain we can let go of. Imagine how beautiful your future will look when it’s not clouded by the stories we tell ourselves and make up in our heads that aren’t even true. Imagine what it must be like to live free from the pain, fear, guilt, self-loathing, judgement, jealousy and criticism, if we dropped all that poison we carry from other peoples words, and the offence we have taken, and the assumptions we have made. Imagine the freedom of being able to put all that down, and view life from a place of neutrality and love, where nothing can touch you. You are free to love and be loved unconditionally in every situation. You can leave your heart open because you will never fear anyone trampling on it.



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