This analysis will give you the key to empowering positive thinking and action. It shows that you don’t need religion for moral thought and behavior.
Philosophy In Action
You notice that these elements of these agreements are not just philosophical positions. Don Miguel Ruiz (1) wrote them in a way that requires action. It’s a practical approach with a focus on positive actions with personal accountability. It tells you what you should do. This approach has much in common with Buddhism but differs significantly from the practice of Western organized religion.
The Abrahamic religions have a list of ten things focusing on what we should not do. However, unlike Buddhism, the Abrahamic beliefs go on with exceptions and contradictions to their “thou shalt not” rules. For example, the tenth commandment says you should not covet your neighbor’s wife, his animals, or his slaves. So, that’s a way of saying it’s okay to have slaves; don’t be jealous of your neighbors.
Analysis of the Four Agreements
“The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your words to direct your life toward truth and love.”
To be impeccable with your word means striving to be honest with yourself and others. Gossip and hearsay create negativity in relationships. So, you’ll need to stop feeding your mind with fiction, which is the basis for much TV news, religious programming, and reality shows.
Your mind is a computer. If you put in harmful code, you will get the wrong answers. You must learn to monitor what you put into your mind. You must learn to monitor your thinking, and then you will be honest with yourself and others. Learning to base relationships on healthy spiritual energy rather than superficial and temporary conditions will bring long-lasting enjoyment.
2) Don’t take Umbrage or Personal Offense
“The second agreement is don’t take things personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. Learn to be are immune to the opinions and actions of others. This will keep you from being the victim of needless suffering.”
Don’t take things personally. Resist the urge to fixate on the possible motives of others. Our analysis of the four agreements showed that this is a common issue. We surveyed members and found that 80% of people find this hard to do. It makes you a victim of circumstance. Besides, you can never know what someone else is thinking. Don’t assume that what happens has ill intent.
Trying to anticipate or guess will take you away from the present. When you do this, you are not listening anymore. Your mind takes you down a rabbit trail, and you lose your grounding. It takes your mind out of the present. Keep your focus on being “present” and “mindful.” Follow the first agreement, strive to be honest. When you don’t do this, you take on the victim mindset.
Remind yourself that you limit yourself when you take on the victim mentality. If someone has a different opinion, don’t take it as a personal affront. Instead, ask them if you want to know. Ask with genuine intent to determine why they believe what they do. It’s essential to resist the urge to present a different argument unless they ask for yours. Again, our analysis of the four agreements showed that this was the hardest thing to do.
The reason that this one is so hard is that our culture promotes the role of the victim. Don’t be the victim. Learn that we all suffer unjust wrongs. Instead, learn to take on the part of the survivor. Not taking things as a personal attack is a mental tactic worth mastering. Taking any criticism without reacting requires both practice in handling these situations and some serious inner work.
3) Don’t Assume
“The third agreement is don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can. This will help you avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can transform your life.”
Don’t assume. Instead, be mindful and present. Accept people where they are. Ask questions but resist the urge to judge. Avoid projecting your values and beliefs. Give others your full attention and listen.
Don’t formulate a rebuttal while you listen. Listen first before you think about what you are going to say. When you pause and listen, it will often change your response. We encourage you to do your “own” analysis of the four agreements. If you do, you’ll see how they fit together as a whole.
4) Integrity in Word and Deed
“The last agreement is always to do your best. Your best is a continual decision. Things can change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy, as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret
When you do your best, it means you follow through with promises and commitments. Be wise and don’t over-promise. Remember to be impeccable with your word. Remind yourself that perfection is an elusive goal. It may be only temporary. So, doing your best has more to do with intent and effort, not results. Give your best effort. Be diligent with your time. Avoid “what ifs” and self-judgment.
We hope this analysis of the four agreements will help you in your personal development. These agreements can change your attitude about life. They give you perspective in this ever-changing world. These agreements can make you be a better person without the baggage of adopting any dogma or doctrine—four simple things to keep in mind. It’s a practical way to put philosophy into action.
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(1) Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) Paperback – July 10, 2018, miguelruiz.com
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia