The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedomby Don Miguel Ruiz
The Toltec were a group of people in southern Mexico consisting entirely of men and women of knowledge. The members of this group had devoted their life to studying the sciences and the arts and had thus banded together to conserve the knowledge and practices they had learned. Over the years, the older Toltec (known was naguals, meaning “masters”) passed their teachings down to their students, and so the Toltec legacy was kept. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is a book written by Miguel Ruiz, a nagual from the Eagle Knight lineage.
This book was written with the intention of teaching the esoteric Toltec knowledge to all those willing to read it. Although spirituality and the concept of God are mentioned a few times in this book, the advice given can apply to people from all walks of life. We have thus compiled the advice in this book into actions that you can follow to better the quality of your life. The first few actions are to increase your happiness in life, and the next few are for self-development as well as attaining personal freedom. Keep in mind that the end result of even the self-development and personal freedom actions is happiness, as this book revolves around the themes of happiness and love.
It is important to remember that Toltec is not a religion; it is simply a way of life. So, we hope you enjoy applying these actions to your daily life, and we wish you all the best!
Domestication and the Dream of the Planet
“The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake.”
Our beliefs are conditioned by punishment. Whenever we do something wrong, we punish ourselves so as to reinforce the mistake. This is true for all animals of this world. However, we humans take it one step further and punish ourselves over and over again every time we are reminded of the mistake. This is extremely unfair to us, as it causes suffering and decreases our happiness.
Most of us have an image of perfection in our mind, or, more specifically, we have an image of the “perfect person” in our mind, and we wish we were like that. You may notice that you put a lot of effort into pleasing those who love and care for you, such as parents, siblings, or maybe even teachers. You may feel like you want to be good enough for them, but that you are not. You don’t even feel like you’re good enough for yourself. Because you fall short of what you perceive as perfection, you reject yourself and become unsatisfied and unhappy. You just can’t forgive yourself for not being perfect.
You may end up participating in self-abusive activities such as using drugs. Or you may wear a social mask and pretend to be someone you’re not. All of this stems from one root cause—your expectations for yourself are not reasonable. You feel like you should be someone better than you already are, but you don’t realize that it is not necessary to be that person. Remember that you don’t need to try and win the love and acceptance of other people, only yourself. The more self-love you have, the less you will self-abuse. Change that image of perfection in your mind to something more achievable, reasonable, and healthy.
Actions to take
The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word
“On one side of the sword are the lies that create black magic, and on the other side of the sword is the truth which has the power to break the spell of black magic.”
The human mind is like the fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the seeds planted in our minds are those of fear and self-rejection.
When you do not accept these negative seeds and instead only allow seeds of love and self-care to take root in your mind, you will be happier.
Actions to take
The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
When you take the negative things others say about you personally, you get trapped in your own personal importance because you are operating under the selfish assumption that everything is about you. You start to get depressed and unhappy because you start to believe those negative things about yourself.
Once you stop taking things personally, you will be much happier.
Actions to take
The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
“All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.”
It is a human tendency to make assumptions about everything. This usually arises from a fear to ask for clarification and ends in us trying to prove someone else wrong when we are the ones with misinformation. Making assumptions can be particularly detrimental in relationships, as it creates conflict and makes us feel let down and unhappy. The most common assumption in a relationship is that the other person knows you so well that they will always do what they want. When they don’t do what you assume they should do, you end up feeling hurt.
You can even make assumptions about yourself and overestimate or underestimate yourself. This can lead you to feel disappointed in yourself, and thus unhappy.
To truly move on with your life and experience emotional freedom and happiness, you must let go of the need to blame. It is time to stop the abuse, and the only way for that to happen is if you choose to end it with you.
Actions to take
The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best
“When you do your best you learn to accept yourself.”
If you truly commit yourself to always doing your best, you will find that there is absolutely no reason for you to judge yourself, and you will eliminate the feelings of guilt and blame from your life. Plus, you will be a lot more productive!
Actions to take
The Toltec Path to Freedom: Breaking Old Agreements
“The freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves.”
The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. If you are not aware of what the problem is, how can you solve it?
Once you are aware of yourself and what you want, you will slowly begin to move toward making a positive change and achieving emotional and personal freedom.