The Four Agreements—A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

When we step foot into this earth, we are free. We do not have money problems, we do not complain, and we certainly do not care what other people think of us. Even after a few years of being born, we are still free.

As children, we begin to learn things from our surroundings—from our parents, teachers, and society. We learn about culture, religion, behaving well, speaking, laughing, crying, and playing.

But if we think about it, we did not choose to do any of those things. We did not choose to follow our religion, values, language, culture, and beliefs. We did not have a choice except to agree with our parents and society. This agreement has shaped up our entire life. Don Miguel Ruiz calls it the domestication of humans.

Punishments and rewards are the two main components of domestication. If we do something bad, we are punished for it by our parents, teachers, or the law. And, if we do something good, we are rewarded for it. There is always the fear of being punished and the craving for getting rewarded. This fear of punishment and desire for rewarded makes us do things we do not want to do.

During the process of domestication, we form a self-image. We start to believe that we are not perfect, and we reject ourselves. This self-image and self-rejection are caused by the agreements we make with ourselves. In these agreements, we tell ourselves who we are, how we feel, what we believe, and how to behave. If we can change our old agreements and start making new, improved ones, we can transform our life.

Here are the four agreements that we need to make with ourselves for an improved life.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

The words we speak have great power. We use our words to express ourselves and communicate with others. During the process of communicating and expressing, we are also manifesting everything in life.

“Your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.”

A human mind is very fertile. Our words are like seeds. So when the seeds are planted into the fertile mind, they grow. If we plant negative thoughts and ideas, negativity will grow. And, if we plant positive thoughts and ideas, positivity will grow.

Our words define who we are. But they also have the power to cast a spell on others. For example, suppose you tell a lie to a friend and say, “You are getting fatter every day.” If your friend agrees with that statement, she will start to believe it. Even if that were just a lie, she would begin to see herself as a fat person.

The exact mechanism works with self-talk. Whatever statement you tell yourself, you will manifest it into your life if you agree with it. So be careful with the words you say to yourself and others. If you’re in doubt, it is better to say nothing at all.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

The words and actions of other people are the results of their realities.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. The person is dealing with his or her own feelings, beliefs, and opinions. It has nothing to do with you.”

If you take things personally, it will make you prey to the predators. Whatever people say or do is their truth. It does not have to be yours.

It is your choice not to take things personally and be happy. Being happy is internal. Anything external should not be the source of your happiness. If you take things personally, you are inviting suffering to your life.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

In many situations, we tend to avoid asking for clarifications and instead make assumptions. Then we start to believe that we are right about the assumptions. We further try to defend our assumptions and prove that someone else is wrong.

Making assumptions will lead us to misunderstandings in life. We tend to take things personally after we make assumptions. Everything will get messed up just because we were too afraid to ask questions and clarify things.

“Making assumptions in our relationships is really asking for problems.”

Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. Clear communication will change your relationships in a good way. Clarify, don’t assume.

4. Aways Do Your Best

Take action. Do your best in every circumstance. If you do so, you will not judge yourself or suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment.

Stop competing with yourself or with others. Stop having expectations. When you take action and expect something in return, you will not enjoy the action. Learn to enjoy the action. The reward will come as a result of taking action.

“Doing your best is taking the ation because you love it, not beacuse you’re expecting a reward.”

Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are—you can ask nothing more of yourself.

Break The Old Agreements

We have been taught to live a certain way—do this, eat that, pray to God, work hard, be polite, respect others, and the list goes on. All these things are not bad as long as you are true to yourself.

In life, we all want freedom. We don’t want anybody telling us what to do and what not to do. We want to live life our way. But we don’t see that happening because most of the time, we do things to please others just to be accepted by them.

Self-awareness is key. You need to see what is really going on around you. Are you really doing the things that you love, or are you doing them for others? Are you happy in life, or are you suffering? What is the cause of your suffering? Become aware of the problem so that you can solve it.

Once you are aware, you need to make transformations. With the new agreements, you have the power to make a change and be free.


Your life is your own creation. If you are living in hell, that’s because of you, not others. You have the power to transform hell into heaven using your mind, your imagination, and your emotions.

“The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer. The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.”

The Four Agreements is a must-read book with many insightful ideas. This article is just a brief outlook of what is inside the book. I highly recommend you to read the entire book because there is a lot more you will learn about the power of your mind, love, happiness, and life.