The Four Agreements

Adhere to these characteristics and change your life

By Barbara Pierce

This book changed my life!” Robert Moran said of “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz.

I met Moran when he came to one of my workshops. The 62-year-old resident of Punta Gorda, Fla. read this book years ago, recommended by a friend. “I felt this guy had the answers I’d been looking for. It seemed like the right way to do things, the right way to do life. My life was pretty screwed up and not working too well for me at the time,” Moran said.

The bestselling book, subtitled “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom,” offers four suggestions or agreements — if you follow them, your life will be transformed.

“This is a really simple, really cool, really powerful book,” says philosopher Brian Johnson online.

“If you can begin to live your life with these agreements, the transformation in your life will be amazing,” said Ruiz online. “You will see the drama of hell disappear right before your very eyes. Instead of living in a dream of hell, you will be creating a new dream — your personal dream of heaven.”

I think the four agreements make a whole lot of sense and I can’t suggest any better guides to change your life.

The four agreements are:

— Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Do not judge or blame yourself or others. Do not criticize yourself or others, or gossip.

To be impeccable with your word is to be truthful and to say things that have a positive influence on yourself and others.

Also, to be impeccable with your word means to honor your commitments and only make commitments that you intend to follow through on. Don’t say you’re going to do something, unless you really intend to follow through and do it.

— Don’t take anything personally: This is big. When you make it a habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life.

Each of us see the world in our own unique way, so the way others treat us and what they say about us says more about them than it does about us. Their views are only their views and may be inaccurate.

“Nothing that another person says or does is because of you. It is because of themselves. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering,” said Ruiz.

Also, taking things personally is the mother of all guilt. When we assume responsibility for something that is not our responsibility, and not under our control, we feel unnecessary guilt.

Don’t assume

— Don’t make assumptions: Many of us make assumptions about everything. We make assumptions and are so convinced that we don’t need to check it out. It’s what therapists call “mind reading.” Then we act as if our assumption was correct, and that can get us in trouble.

For example, a friend doesn’t say hi and ignores me at a meeting. I assume he’s mad at me because of that text I sent him. So I respond by withdrawing from him.

I don’t contact him. Next time I see him, I ignore him. And we become more distant from each other as a result of my assumption. When, the reason he ignored me at the meeting may have had nothing to do with my text. Maybe his child was seriously ill, or his boss is giving him a bad time. Maybe it had nothing to do with me at all and now I’ve lost his friendship because of my assumption.

Don’t make assumptions about anything. Ask questions and clarify. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.

— Always do your best: “Your best is going to change from moment to moment,” said Ruiz. “Your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”

Those are the four agreements. They may be simple, said Ruiz, but not easy to keep.

“It took me awhile to get the hang of it,” said Moran, about how the book changed his life. “It was hard at first. But I really think it’s helped my life go better in so many ways.”

“I often want things to change kind of quickly,” says Johnson. “But this is a slow process.” Your mind has habits that have been in place for years.

• Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book, “When you Come to the Edge: Aging” or if you have questions for her, contact her at