Editor’s note: Easton Training Center and its leadership place a large emphasis on the power of reading as a necessary part of any growth journey. In addition to our Easton reading list, we’ll be sharing other books which have helped our students and coaches grow, succeed, and improve their relationships with themselves and with others.
About a year ago, I was going through some challenges and a friend recommended that I read/listen to a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I started listening, and within minutes I thought this book was written for me.
As a recovering people pleaser and nice guy, I have spent years sacrificing myself to not rock the boat, and in the process, built resentment for many people and a lot of stress and inner turmoil.
Listening to the book helped ease that battle a bit. A simple yet profound guide to living a more peaceful and fulfilling life, the book outlines four agreements that you can apply to all aspects of life, including personal relationships, your career, and self-improvement.
These four agreements can transform one’s life by shifting the way we think, speak, and act.
Speaking with intention
The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. This means speaking with integrity, being true to your word, and not using your words to hurt people.
Our words can greatly impact people, whether positively or negatively, depending on what we say. I have made promises I couldn’t keep, said things I didn’t mean, and said unkind words to people I care about. Whenever that happened, it didn’t feel right, and it caused me to lose trust in myself and others to lose their trust in me.
After reading the book, I became more conscious of my words and started speaking with more integrity. In the past, my words and actions didn’t always align, but now I’m more aware of this. I’m more intentional about what I say and how it matches what I feel. I speak the truth more than I ever have, even if that truth may not be what others want to hear.
Many of us fear speaking the truth, but it has improved my relationships with others and, more importantly, with myself. It’s not always easy, but it’s so worth it. Alternatively, sometimes things are better left unsaid if they intend to hurt someone else. Words carry a sharp edge and can cut deep, and those wounds can take a long time to heal.
Seeing between the lines
The second agreement is to not take anything personally. This means recognizing that other people’s actions and words reflect them and what they have going on in their life and have nothing to do with you.
Maybe you tell a friend that you joined Easton to train Muay Thai and they tell you that you aren’t cut out for it, or you aren’t in good enough shape to do it. While these words may sting, you must believe in yourself, not take it personally, and continue your path.
Often people will diminish others’ goals and choices out of fear of being outshined, left behind, or exposed to be the exact things they tell us that we are.
I have let others’ opinions affect me and would often question myself and my decisions because someone else said something negative. This caused unnecessary stress and anxiety, and I wasted so much time doubting myself while considering these opinions.
After reading The Four Agreements, I learned to detach from other people’s opinions and recognize that their actions and words reflect their beliefs, experiences, and fears — not mine. It’s not easy, and you must be intentional about it, but learning to not take things personally has given me a sense of freedom, allowed me to focus on my own goals, and be confident in who I am and what I am doing without being held back by the opinions of others.
Don’t make assumptions
The third agreement is to not make assumptions, which means asking questions and communicating to avoid misunderstandings.
Before reading this book, I would often assume I knew what others were thinking or feeling without asking for clarification. This caused miscommunications, hurt feelings, and me creating stories in my head that were far from the truth. Then I would obsess over these stories that were not even true.
Now, I’ve learned to ask questions and communicate clearly to avoid these misunderstandings. This has improved my relationships, allowed me to understand others better, and has released me from the stress of the stories that I would create.
Never stop trying
The fourth agreement is to always do your best. This means giving your best effort in everything you do, regardless of the outcome.
I have long focused only on the result of something, such as a race, rather than the effort I give. After reading The Four Agreements, I learned that giving my best effort is more important than the outcome.
Sure, not getting the desired result is never what we want, but it would be worse if you didn’t give it your all. If we put 100 percent effort into things, dedicate ourselves to something, and try our best, there can be no shame in the result.
This philosophy has released me from self-imposed pressure and expectations because I know that I will always give my max effort and that I can be proud of myself for that alone.
In conclusion, The Four Agreements has changed my life by shifting the way I think, speak, and act. By being impeccable with my word, not taking anything personally, not making assumptions, and always doing my best, I have become a more peaceful, fulfilled, confident, and authentic version of myself.
I recommend this book to anyone seeking a better way of life and a deeper understanding of themselves and others.