I’m an avid reader, and am often in the middle of four or five books at the same time. However, there are some classics I find myself coming back to time and time again.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of these books.
Inspired by ancient Toltec wisdom, he outlines four internal guiding rules that offer the opportunity to realize our full potential of life balance and happiness and free ourselves from self-imposed limiting beliefs.
Yes, all this in one little book!
Here are the four agreements and some of my thoughts on each of them.
1. Be impeccable with your word
Choose your words carefully. Words matter. Communication is a two way street between the speaker and the listener, and the best communication happens when the speaker really takes into account who the listener is, and how they will best receive the message.
Words can elevate or words can depress. They can be like a gentle caress or a slap in the face. Choose your words wisely.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
How many times has someone said or done something over the top negative to you (anger, rejection, whatever), and you immediately started to question yourself and what you might have done instead of questioning their overreaction?
You can remind yourself that the actions and behaviors of others are more a reflection of them than they are of you. Negative judgments and opinions of you by someone else are only that person’s subjective opinion, not a fact. What is YOUR opinion of yourself? That’s way more important.
When you know who you are, you know that you have chosen your words wisely, have come from a place of authenticity and realness in life, and have done your best, if they still freak out on you, it’s about them, not you. I often remind myself in times like these: “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”
3. Don’t make assumptions
Here’s another one that afflicts many of us: assuming the worst about a situation, or assuming that someone’s behavior had something to do with you.
In addition to life coaching here at Life Skills Resource Group, I’m also a yoga teacher, and sometimes students come to my classes and sometimes they don’t. One day when my class was less well attended than usual, a student said to me: “I wonder where everyone is today? You’re so wonderful, why aren’t they here?” Yes, of course I was flattered she thought so highly of me as a teacher, but I reminded her that it’s an assumption to think they didn’t come to class because of me or something I did.
I told her I make no assumptions about why they’re not here, and that it’s entirely possible they have something else going on in their lives at the moment (COVID-19? Homeschooling? I mean come on, life is weird right now, there’s a million other reasons they could have missed the class!). Instead of worrying myself about something I may have done, I sent the absent students my well wishes mentally and a hope that I would see them sometime in the future. No guilt or shame or worry for me whatsoever. Just open-mindedness.
4. Always do your best.
You can never doubt yourself or have a low sense of self if you know that you are always doing the best that you can do in any given situation. Your best may vary from day to day … some days are 110% kind of days, and others are 70% days, but even on those days, if that is the best I can do, so be it … I’m still giving it the best I’ve got.
To me, this agreement ties in with number 2 … if I know that I have done my best, and someone still tries to tear me a new one, I know that it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’ve done the best I can, and if it isn’t good enough for that other person, that is THEIR problem, not mine. I don’t take it personally because I know that all I can do is the best that I can do, and no more than that. And even if my best wasn’t good enough for them, it is good enough for me.
Regardless of your philosophical, spiritual, or religious background, this book can benefit all people. It’s a quick read, and a powerful one. In many ways, humans really haven’t changed that much over time, and the ancient wisdom outlined in this book is just as relevant today as it was back then.
If you’re looking for other great book recommendations, or would like to set up a complimentary 15 minute discovery call to chat about how to incorporate more life balance, positive thinking, and joy in your life, please be in touch … I’d love to hear from you!
Jen Larsen, CPC, RYT500, is a certified professional life coach and certified registered yoga teacher. For over a decade, she has helped people light their inner glow and achieve their fullest potential. Jen can be reached by email at email@example.com. Visit her on the web at www.lightyourinnerglow.com, or on Facebook or Instagram @lightyourinnerglow .