Book:  The Four Agreements

Author:  Don Miguel Ruiz

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Ruiz, M. & Mills, J. (1997). The four agreements : a practical guide to personal freedom. San Rafael, California Carlsbad, California: Amber-Allen Publishing,Distributed by Hay House, Inc.

Big Takeaways & Key Ideas:

  • Gossip is pure poison. We learned how to gossip as kids. When we were children, we heard the adults around us gossiping all the time, openly giving their opinions about other people. They even had opinions about people they didn't know. Emotional poison was transferred along with the opinions, and we learned this as a normal way to communicate. Gossiping has become the main form of communication is society. It has become the way we feel close to each other, because it makes us feel better to see someone else feel as badly as we do. (pg. 37)

  • Taking things personally is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me." Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give come from their own minds. When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You make something big out of something so little, because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong. (pg. 48)

  • If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn't walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don't need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices. When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life. Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear, and even your sadness will simply disappear if you don't take things personally. (pg. 58)

  • As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won't need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others. (pg. 60)

  • We don't need to justify love; it is there or not there. Real love is accepting other people the way they are without trying to change them. If we try to change them, this means we don't really like them. Of course, if you decide to live with someone, it is better to live with someone who is exactly the way you want him or her to be. Find someone you don't have to change at all. It is much easier to find someone who is already the way you want him or her to be, instead of trying to change that person. Also, that person must love you just the way you are, so he or she doesn't have to change you at all. If others feel they have to change you, that means they don't really love you just the way you are. So why be with someone if you're not the way he or she wants you to be? (pg. 70)

  • The way you keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don't understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as you can be, and even then do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation. Once you hear the answer, you will not have to make assumptions because you will know the truth. (pg. 72)

  • If you live in a past dream, you don't enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self-pity, suffering, and tears. (pg. 84)

  • There is really no reason to suffer. The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer. If you look at your life you will find many excuses to suffer, but a good reason to suffer you will not find. The same is true for happiness. The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering. (pg. 129)

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