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@Clues 2024

The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz
"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz is a bestselling book that provides four powerful principles for personal freedom and fulfillment.
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Book Summary

When I first sat down with this book, I was excited because of the subtitle: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. It’s hard to find practical wellness advice that is legitimate. We live in a time where it’s easy for anyone to appear that they understand the human condition, and publish it broadly on the internet when what they truly understand is how to create new age click-bait. 

This book, on the other hand, is the real deal. It demonstrates a fundamental understanding of the programmable nature of the human mind, how our programming (through various societal mechanisms) dominates our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how little of our day-to-day experience is rooted in awareness, consciousness thought and behaviors. As a result, very few of us move through life consciously expressing ourselves as an individual. 

What I love about The Four Agreements is that it is another demonstration of the lost wisdom of ancient cultures, and how they understood the phenomenon of the unconscious mind. The Toltec people understood that most of life’s suffering is unnecessary and due to the beliefs that we form throughout our life. Our individual beliefs are often conforming to the adopted beliefs of society, which are what the Toltecs refer to as the Dream of the Planet, which is a collective illusion that society has formed and that stifles the individual.

The book provides an easy-to-read set of metaphors that explain how most of our beliefs aren’t even our own. Instead, our beliefs were repetitiously drilled into us by our parents, teachers, government, churches, the media we consume, and the broader collection of societal beliefs designed and selected before we were even born. Therefore, most of society lives in a dream-like false reality because we’re living according to beliefs we had little to no say over as children. This is the Dream of the Planet that we live in and the illusion-like reality that defines the typical human experience. 

These beliefs, which the book refers to as Agreements, become truth or fact in our minds. Once we believe something to be true, we act out that belief in how we live. A common example is someone holding a negative belief about oneself (e.g., “I’m not good enough”), which then leads to self-sabotaging behaviors (e.g., “I continue to date people that abuse me”) and leads to their life experience being a “living hell.” 

Not only is this true at the level of the individual, but also at the collective level of society. The beliefs we are indoctrinated with become like viruses to our minds, emotions, and behaviors, and are spread to others in a way that perpetuates a “living hell” for all of us. 

With The Four Agreements, Don Miguel channels ancient Toltec wisdom and offers a solution to the mind-made suffering we endure unnecessarily. The solution offered is centered around what is known as the Four Agreements:

  • Be Impeccable With Your Word
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally
  • Don’t Make Assumptions
  • Always Do Your Best

By swapping out our old, self-harming agreements (i.e., beliefs) and replacing them with the Four Agreements, we can find our way to personal freedom which is the ultimate version of “heaven on earth.” We are able to drop the false beliefs that were programmed into us by society, leave behind the suffering that comes from those beliefs, and experience a form of freedom that can only be experienced through genuine individuality.

As Don Miguel wrote, “When you honor these four agreements together, there is no way that you will live in hell. There is no way. If you are impeccable with your word, if you don’t take anything personally, if you don’t make assumptions, and if you always do your best, then you are going to have a beautiful life. You are going to control your life one hundred percent.”

The beauty of the Four Agreements is that anyone can manage to rewire themselves such that they drop old, harmful beliefs and replace them with new ones that allow us to live more lovingly and authentically. It doesn’t require divine intervention, idolization of any religion, or the patronage of a guru. All it requires is that someone makes the choice to become aware of the agreements which dominate their mind, adopt the Four Agreements, and practice them in their daily lives to transform themselves and their lives in the direction of the life we envision for ourselves – one that is free of unnecessary suffering.

It’s rare that you find a philosophy that takes the complexity of the human experience and simplifies it into actionable and legitimate terms that anyone can follow. The Four Agreements is one of those instances and I consider it essential for those that are serious about freeing their mind.

Introduction - The Domestication of Humans.

In this chapter, the author explains how humans are "domesticated" - or taught how to behave - by society, starting at a young age.

Ruiz suggests that people are taught certain "agreements" or beliefs by parents, teachers, and other authority figures, which shape their perception of the world and affect how they interact with others. These agreements are often based on fear and create limitations for individuals, both in terms of how they see themselves and how they see the world around them. I generally refer to this concept as "programming" i.e., the human mind is programmed by the world around us in the same way that a computer can be programmed through code.

For example, Ruiz writes that children are often told what to do and what not to do, and that they are rewarded for following rules and punished for breaking them. This reinforces the idea that there are "right" and "wrong" ways to act and think, and that people should conform to social norms in order to be accepted.

Ruiz argues that this domestication can lead to self-limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, and a fear of taking risks. However, he suggests that by becoming aware of the agreements that have been imposed upon them, individuals can start to challenge these beliefs and create new, more positive agreements that allow them to live a happier, more authentic life. In other words, we can become aware of the "wall of fog that was made by the interpretation of images of light – the Dream of humans” and break free from the "Dream" to no longer be domesticated by ideas and beliefs created before we were even born.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word

In chapter 1 of "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, you'll learn about the first of the four agreements, which is to be impeccable with your word. According to the author, the words you use can have a big impact on the world around you.

To be impeccable with your word, Ruiz suggests that you should speak truthfully and authentically, without causing harm or judgment. He encourages you to avoid using your words to gossip or spread negativity, and to instead use them to create a positive impact on those around you.

Ruiz also emphasizes the importance of being true to yourself and speaking from the heart. He advises you to avoid saying things you don't mean and making promises you can't keep, and to always use your words in a way that reflects your true intentions and values.

Overall, Don Miguel Ruiz is encouraging you to use your words in a way that creates positivity, truth, and love in the world. By being impeccable with your word, you can improve your relationships, increase your self-awareness, and live a more fulfilling life.

The Second Agreement: Don't Take Anything Personally.

In chapter 2 of "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, you will learn about the second agreement, which is "Don't Take Anything Personally." The author suggests that people tend to take things personally, which can create unnecessary suffering and conflict.

Ruiz explains that when people say or do things, it's a reflection of their own beliefs, experiences, and perceptions. Their actions and words are not necessarily a reflection of you or your worth as a person. By taking things personally, you are allowing other people's opinions and actions to affect you and your sense of self.

To avoid taking things personally, Ruiz suggests that you should develop self-awareness and learn to recognize when you're making assumptions about other people's behavior. He encourages you to remember that other people's actions are not necessarily about you, and that you can choose to respond in a way that reflects your own values and beliefs.

By not taking things personally, you can avoid unnecessary conflict and stress in your relationships, and free yourself from the limitations of other people's opinions and beliefs. Instead, you can focus on being true to yourself and living a more fulfilling life.

In summary, by learning to recognize when you're making assumptions and choosing to respond in a way that reflects your own values, you can free yourself from unnecessary suffering and conflict, and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

The Third Agreement: Don't Make Assumptions

Chapter 3 is titled "Don't Make Assumptions," and it focuses on how making assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary suffering. Ruiz explains that making assumptions means filling in the gaps of information with your own beliefs, without checking whether those beliefs are true. He encourages you to instead communicate openly and honestly with others to avoid misunderstandings and conflict.

Ruiz highlights how our beliefs are shaped by our experiences and are therefore subjective. He suggests that when we assume that others share our beliefs, we can become defensive and create unnecessary conflict. He suggests that we can avoid this by seeking clarification, asking questions, and being open to hearing different perspectives.

Ruiz also discusses how making assumptions about ourselves can lead to negative self-talk and self-sabotage. He encourages you to question your assumptions about yourself and to be kind and compassionate towards yourself. He suggests that by being honest and non-judgmental with yourself, you can avoid self-sabotage and achieve greater personal growth.

To practice the third agreement, Ruiz suggests being clear and specific in your communication with others. He suggests asking for clarification and avoiding mind-reading or making assumptions about others' thoughts and feelings. He also suggests avoiding making assumptions about yourself, and instead being honest and compassionate towards yourself.

Overall, this chapter encourages you to communicate openly and honestly with others, and to avoid making assumptions based on your own beliefs and experiences. By seeking clarification, being open to different perspectives, and being kind and compassionate towards yourself, you can avoid misunderstandings and negative self-talk, and achieve greater personal growth.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Chapter 4 is titled "Always Do Your Best," and it focuses on the importance of putting forth your best effort in all aspects of your life. Ruiz explains that doing your best is not about being perfect or always achieving success, but rather about being kind and patient with yourself and recognizing that your best effort will be different from moment to moment.

Ruiz highlights the importance of avoiding self-abuse and self-neglect, and encourages you to take responsibility for your own actions and strive to be the best version of yourself. He suggests that by doing your best, you can avoid falling into negative patterns of behavior, such as procrastination or self-sabotage. Instead, he encourages you to be kind to yourself and put forth your best effort in each moment.

To help you always do your best, Ruiz suggests focusing on the present moment and avoiding worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. He also encourages you to set realistic goals and be flexible in your approach, recognizing that life is full of unexpected challenges and changes.

Ruiz emphasizes that doing your best is a process, not a destination. He suggests that by being patient with yourself and avoiding self-judgment, you can avoid negative patterns of behavior and live a more fulfilling life. He also suggests that by striving to be the best version of yourself in each moment, you can cultivate a sense of personal freedom and happiness.

Overall, chapter 4 of "The Four Agreements" encourages you to always do your best in all aspects of your life. By putting forth your best effort in each moment, being kind to yourself, and avoiding negative patterns of behavior, you can take responsibility for your own actions and strive to be the best version of yourself. By focusing on the present moment, setting realistic goals, and being patient with yourself, you can live a more fulfilling life and cultivate personal freedom and happiness.


The final chapter of "The Four Agreements" is the conclusion, and it summarizes the main themes and concepts of the book. Ruiz emphasizes the transformative potential of the four agreements for achieving personal freedom and happiness.

He reminds you that the first agreement, to be impeccable with your word, is about using language with integrity and avoiding negative self-talk or gossip. The second agreement, to not take anything personally, encourages you to recognize that the opinions and actions of others are not a reflection of your own worth or value. The third agreement, to not make assumptions, encourages you to communicate openly and honestly with others and avoid projecting your own beliefs and expectations onto them. Finally, the fourth agreement, to always do your best, encourages you to strive to be the best version of yourself in each moment.

Ruiz emphasizes that the four agreements are not a rigid set of rules, but rather a flexible guide for living a more fulfilling life. He encourages you to apply the four agreements in your own life, and to adapt them to your own personal experiences and beliefs.

The author also highlights the importance of recognizing that you are not responsible for other people's happiness or well-being, and that by taking care of yourself, you can positively influence the world around you. He suggests that by cultivating personal freedom and happiness, you can inspire others to do the same.

In the conclusion, Ruiz encourages you to continue to seek personal growth and to embrace the transformative potential of the four agreements. He suggests that by applying these agreements in your own life, you can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life, and positively influence those around you.