Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Midweek reminder: Agreements

I would have sworn I've posted about The Four Agreements before. Shocked, actually, when I looked through my blog archives, so find not a mention of it, since when I read about the agreements 13-14 years ago now, pieces of them were a-ha moments for me.

I remember vividly reading about the book in Oprah's magazine, and then getting the book at the train station in Philadelphia. I read the little book in the two-hour train ride to NYC; I'd been in Philly for business and then was headed into the city to see my brother and sister-in-law... 1998 or 1999... can't remember the year exactly, but I do remember the book, and thinking that it wasn't really all that much better in full book form, that the Oprah article pretty much covered it (and some of the expanded writing in the book is a little new-age-jargonish for me).

But that didn't stop me from reflecting, and continuing to reflect at various times in the years since, on the agreements themselves (the author has since added a fifth, which I find less powerful/revolutionary than the other four). I can't say I agree with every word or sentiment in each of the five points, or think they are the be-all, end-all of what it takes reach success. But, if I reflect on less-than-stellar interpersonal situations I've been involved with in my life, and think of them in hindsight using these agreements, every one of them could have been improved or even avoided, with these principals in mind.

So, common sense? Sure. But some days it seems hardly common in this world, what with how we humans interact with each other. Hence, the need to remind myself:

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 when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

5. Be Skeptical, But Learn to Listen: Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind the words, and you will understand the real message.
-Don Miguel Ruiz


  1. #2 is the hardest for me...and I wish it weren't!

  2. #4 is tough for me. Is there ever a time for "good enough." Does everything deserve my best? Good enough takes less time and lets me accomplish more. Guess I better read the book. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Don't say I didn't warn you on the new-age jargon, Brent! But some good stuff, if you decide to wade through...

  3. Interesting, cool find -- hadn't heard of this book before but it reminds me of Casteneda, who I have found very comforting in a Toltec-warrior-wizard kinda way.

  4. I *so* need to read this book again. One thing I have realized in the time since I read it that it's important to have a firm foundation to build all of these habits on- meaning, I need to know what I believe, what I value, what's truly important. I feel like I'm still working on that, but at least now I have a *bit* of an idea of what is truly crucial and how I can build on that.


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