One of the books I picked up in London, which I couldn’t find in Lahore, was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. A friend in the States (thank you Saira!) recommended this book to me. She insisted that I will love this book and so I was eager to read it. Needless to say, I’ve read it twice and it’s growing on me.
Let me get the not-so-good stuff out of the way. The author based the Four Agreements around the Mexican/ Toltec ancient wisdom. If you’ve read books like The Secret and The Monk Who Sold His Ferarri, you get this underlying theme of a higher being that is in control of the universe, which may contradict your own beliefs, religious or otherwise. In the case of The Four Agreements, it’s the Toltec wisdom, which, in my opinion, can be substituted with any God from other faiths, or the Universe or whatever higher supreme being you hold in high esteem.
So I wasn’t too excited to read the book-ends, which starts off with the history of Mexican wisdom and ends with a call to prayer to the universe to allow the reader to accept the four agreements. So, perhaps, you can also skip the first and the last part of the book.
However, the Four Agreements in itself is pretty radical if not downright simple.
These four agreements are basically four life principles, that if when you incorporate into your life, can prove to be life-changing. Now, I am not a huge fan of the slew of self-help books out there, but these four agreement is something I’ve imbibed into my life and have seen some great results.
The first one is BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
This is a very basic life principle: be mindful of your tongue. Simply speaking, whenever you speak, or whatever you say, just make sure you are impeccable with your words. Be honest, have integrity and stay truthful, kind and loving. In short, avoid gossip and malicious talk.
The second one is DONT TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
I love the second one a lot. I need not take anything personally. If someone says something to me that upsets me, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. It has to do with the state the other person is– perhaps he or she is angry or just stressed out. Everyone is on a different journey. They are all standing at a different place than me. If I can develop a level of understanding and empathy, I will realize that I need not take anything personally. As it is, what other people say to me is just their opinion and not a fact.
Once I worked on this part of my life, I cannot tell you how liberated and free I felt. Once I stopped taking things from people personally, I realized I was able to work on myself a whole lot more, without feeling a pinch of prejudice or snide comment from others. Best of all, I feel free from any needless suffering!
The third one is DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
A very important one– and a dangerous one for those of who tend to overthink. Overthinking is a very counter-productive trait to have, and while making assumptions, our mind can take a completely different direction altogether! There have been moments when I’ve been doing some overthinking, especially before going to sleep. A lot of random thoughts come up and my brain tends to fill in the blank and creates assumptions– which may be totally false and untrue.
The way out of this is to clearly communicate with others and ask them questions. Clear out any confusion and doubts, and see how your friendships and relations with others transcend to another level. Some of my relations with my friends have deepened after I sat down with them and cleared out some of my falsely led assumptions.
Finally, the last one says ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
As simple as it says: whatever you are doing in life, give it your best shot. Put in your 200% and leave no effort wasted. This remarkable act will leave you with no feeling of regrets or self-doubt. Even if things don’t work you, you will rest assured that at least you gave in your best effort. Of course, this effort has to be genuine and sincere, in order for you to feel that confidence.
These truths are universal truths, and I think if you can get past by the Toltec wisdom elements, these four agreements are indeed groundbreaking principles, which you can apply practically to your life. I am sure many of us have heard these life principals before, but the author Don Miguel Ruiz has explained it rather well in his book, in a clear and concise manner.
At the end of the day, what works or doesn’t work for us, all depends on how much practical wisdom you apply in your life. I’ve heard of so many people who tell me that they read a particular book but it didn’t help them. I ask them whether they really worked on themselves while applying practical wisdom, and in most cases, it turns out they haven’t.
It’s a small simple book, which you may like to read as it’s filled with examples on how to apply these agreements. I have it on my bedside now as a reminder daily on how to live a more stress-free and a happier life.