The Four Agreements: Blueprint for Happiness

You have heard the saying before, "life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it." The concept of personal freedom speaks to that 90%. Personal freedom is creating and choosing a life of happiness, love, and peace. In turn, creating freedom from self-rejection, blame, and suffering. 

Don Miguel Ruiz is a spiritual teacher and author of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. He offers four simple "agreements" or principles to live by that can change your relationship with yourself and the world around you. The idea is to break free from the agreements and beliefs that bring us suffering to allow more happiness into our lives.

Here are the Four Agreements and ways to practice each agreement in your daily life.

1. Be impeccable with your word. 

The Meaning: Spoken word is powerful and creates the realities of a person's life. Suffering and judgement are created when we allow others' words to dictate who we believe ourselves to be and internalize others' beliefs to define who we are. 

The shift: Question what you believe to be true about yourself and ask yourself where those beliefs originated. Those things that you tell yourself like "I'm not good enough" or "I'll never be able to do that" usually come from long-standing beliefs that have been developed with the help of others' words. When you begin challenging those beliefs and switching the dialogue within your mind, a strong shift will happen.

2. Don't take anything personally. 

The Meaning: Someone else's point of view can only impact your own if you allow it to. You are not responsible for the actions of others, only for yourself.

The Shift: Understand that what others do or say to you is about them. Assuming that what someone else does is because of you strips that person of any responsibility and places unnecessary burden on you. In reality, you have the power to choose what you internalize. By choosing not to take anything personally, you can decrease guilt and judgement and increase peace and happiness. 

3. Don't make assumptions. 

The Meaning: Mind reading and jumping to conclusions damage relationships and create barriers to communication.  

The Shift: Instead of assuming that someone "should" know what you are thinking, practice assertive communication in relationships. Avoid making meaning out of nuances or signals from others. When in doubt, ask!

4. Do your best. 

The Meaning: Moment to moment and within different circumstances, your best will change. As long as you do the most that you are capable of within that moment, you are doing your best. Do your best without expectation and without contingencies. 

The Shift: Become aware of what your "best" means by connecting with yourself and being mindful of your capabilities. Living with integrity will strengthen the relationship with yourself and others. That critical voice in your head can be replaced with more self-assurance and confidence when you remind yourself that you have done your best in any situation.

By practicing these simple but powerful principles of living, you will see a shift in the way you feel about yourself and the way you interact with the world around you. Most important, you will be creating personal freedom by making the most of that 90%.