the four agreements summary

Book Summary & Notes: The Four Agreements

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The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

Published: 1997 (Amber-Allen Publishing)

Spirituality | Self-help | Personal Growth

My rating: 5/5

Buy the Book: AbeBooks | The Book Depository



The Four Agreements contains practical steps and principles to live by for long-term and personal transformation.

About Don Miguel Ruiz

Don was raised in rural Mexico by a nagual (shaman) father and a curandera (healer mother). His family anticipated that he will follow their centuries-old Toltec traditions and legacy of teaching and healing.

However, due to the influence of the modern world, Ruiz chooses a medical field and becomes a surgeon.

A fatal incident changed everything in his life, causing him to devote himself to the mastery of ancient ancestral wisdom. don Miguel has been able to merge ancient wisdom with modern physics and practical common sense, forging a new philosophy for seekers of truth and personal authenticity.

He is a renowned spiritual teacher and an internationally bestselling author. Check out his other works: “Toltec Wisdom Series, “The Mastery of Love,” “The Voice of Knowledge,” “The Four Agreements Companion Book,” “The Circle of Fire

Resonating Quotes:

“Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.”

“The big difference between a warrior and a victim is that the victim represses and the warrior refrains.”

“Real love is accepting other people the way they are without trying to change them.”


  • The dream of the planet” is a collective dream consisting of humanity, family, and community. The means of achieving the dreams of humankind include things such as governments, schools, and events.
  • The worst thing about this dream is that eventually, we’re so “domesticated” we continue to do it ourselves.
  • When children are born, they are taught to focus on this outside dream. Don Miguel Ruiz calls the sum of these “domestication of humans“, a process that starts the day we’re born. You don’t pick your first language, your first school and you can’t control your parent’s attitudes and what they impose on you.
  • Our parents, schools, and religions instill a set of rules in us. This creates our belief system, in which we have decided who we are, how we feel, what we believe, and how we should behave.
  • We’re rewarded when we do good and punished when we step out of line. If you’ve ever broken a rule, we abuse ourselves, leaving us vulnerable to abuse by others as we accept the abuse we feel we deserve.
  • We strive to live up to what society expects of us and punish ourselves for our imperfections.
  • Ruiz asserts that the key to joy is breaking these agreements to embrace individual power and to create new agreements.
photography of people walking near street during daytime
Photo from Jane Palash on Unsplash

The Four Agreements

Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word

  • Impeccable = Without Sin, Say only what you mean
  • Being impeccable means to speak with integrity and say only what you mean.
  • Language is a form of creative power; it is the way we make our intentions known. Our language has the power to create beauty but also to destroy it.
  • Take responsibility for your words and deeds. Don’t judge or blame yourself.
  • Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Instead, use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love, this will lead to peace and joy.
  • Getting rid of negative words and using only impeccable ones with oneself is the way to become immunized against poisonous words and will cleanse you from the rule of emotional toxins.

Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally

  • The second agreement is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” When we take another’s words personally, we have an agreement with those words.
  • Taking things personally means we are easy prey to others’ poison. It brings us to the trap of “Personal importance” that leads us to believe everything in the world is about us.
  • If we take others’ words personally, we make the concession that they know our world better than we do.
  • Let go of the need to justify ourselves or always be right.
  • Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
  • When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions

  • The third agreement is “Don’t Make Assumptions.” Assumptions are a trap because we are inclined to believe they are a representation of the truth.
  • We tend to see and hear only what we want to. Dreams that are based on assumptions are easily destroyed.
  • In a relationship, for example, each party can make assumptions about the other without clear communication.
  • Avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama by communicating.
  • Have the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Relationships can succeed if people communicate and accept one another.
  • With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

  • The fourth agreement is “Always Do Your Best.” This agreement allows the first three to become habitual in our daily life.
  • Our best is going to change from moment to moment; and we will not always be able to reach perfection but should not feel shame or guilt about this.
  • Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
  • We should not act for rewards, but because we want to, and rewards will come naturally.
  • Accepting the reality that we are doing our best makes us immune to inner guilt and the poison of others.
  • We do not require the acceptance of others to embody our own personal best.

What’s Next?

After vowing to follow the four agreements, accept that obstacles will always come your way. Don’t let people and struggles derail you. Remain in the present, and if we fail, look to the next day to succeed.

Read this if you’re finding wholeness in life and want to stay a step ahead as you face obstacles.

*don Miguel Ruiz’s son don Jose Ruiz added the fifth agreement, with his book, The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery.

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