The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz, is a book about letting go of false identification. It's about realizing that the life we're living is nothing more than a dream -- a dream that we have full control over but often fail to take action and do something with.
Don Ruiz, a Toltec nagual guide, uses the wisdom of his ancestors to help us understand how each and every one of us has the power within ourselves to take control of life and experience the happiness we all possess within ourselves. Don explains how to rewire our belief system so that we can create a new world for ourselves -- a new perspective of the world around us and of ourselves.
In the first chapter, Domestication and the Dream of the Planet, Don sets the stage for the book and explains how the world we're living in is nothing more than a dream world that we've been domesticated to believe is real and unchangeable. In the book, an "agreement" is a rule that we hold as absolute truth. We have thousands of agreements in life, from the agreement that these words are English, to the agreement that gravity pulls things down.
Don presents us with four agreements that he says will change our lives if we adopt them. Each of the four agreements presented reinforce the previous. The four agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don't take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What other 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.
Don't make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Always do your best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy, as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
The first agreement is about the extreme importance and power of our word (and of our thoughts) and why our words need to be of the highest standards. Next, Don explains that we should not take things personally because we are in full control; the actions, words, or thoughts of others should not have any affect on us. The third agreement, to not make assumptions, is about avoiding the mistake of making truth from non-truth. And the last agreement is about doing our best at all times and never putting ourselves down.
The last two chapters of the book discuss how to let go of fear and doubt and adopt these teachings. He discusses various techniques that the ancient Toltec's used and how other cultures around the world still follow similar teachings as were taught by the Toltec.
All of the advice Don gives is very practical and useful. It's not a religious book that you follow word-for-word to enlightenment but rather something to stimulate and kickstart your own journey to self-discovery. Here's my favorite quote from the book:
"Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life."
The book was a short read (138 pages) and absolutely worthwhile. It helps give you a different perspective of life and teaches you how to tackle big challenges as if they were the smallest, easiest challenges you will ever face. He even touches on why we should celebrate death and how it can teach us to enjoy life.