The most common cause of our unhappiness is ourselves. We create limits and assumptions in our heads that create anxiety, rob us of joy, and cause our own needless suffering. Don Miguel Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements to teach us how to eliminate those self-imposed beliefs from our thoughts and live our happiest lives by reminding ourselves of four simple mottos.
These four mottos, which we’ve probably all heard at least once in our lives, highlight the predominant areas that we most often overanalyze and allow to take up space in our minds until they begin to take their toll on our confidence, our relationships, and our mental wellbeing.
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The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz:
Be impeccable with your word.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. To be impeccable with your word means to really focus on what you say, and not just speak for the sake of saying something. There’s a saying that a [person] is only as good as [their] word, and we couldn’t agree with it more. If you are known by others for being dishonest or gossiping about others, that reputation will precede you and will color your future relationships.
You attract what you put out into the world, so make a conscious effort to be genuine, honorable, and true to your word, and you will naturally attract other genuine, honorable people.
Don’t take anything personally.
Stop assuming that others revolve their decisions around you. We all have our own goals and values, and we all live our lives according to them. Most people don’t go out of their way to hurt or hinder others, and the ones who do hurt you intentionally do so because of events in their own lives. When you stop looking for hidden intentions in others’ actions and forget about other people’s opinions of you, you’ll feel free to live your life exactly as you want to.
Don’t make assumptions.
A key to living your best life is never to assume. If you don’t know what someone meant by one of their comments, ask. If somebody’s actions hurt you, don’t assume they were intentional—let them know. Communication of feelings is a lost art. Instead of simply asking for clarification, people tend to assume the worst and let negative feelings fester.
If something that someone says or does bothers you, get to the bottom of it before letting it affect your peace of mind.
Always do your best.
When you know you’re living your life to the best of your abilities, you naturally feel happier. It’s empowering to know you’re fully in control of your successes and failures. You can’t control everything, but that doesn’t matter when you know you did your best.
It’s important to remember that your best is never constant. It’s always changing depending on your mood, your health, and other circumstances throughout the day. Knowing you’re always trying your best will prevent you from punishing yourself and feeling disappointed in your performance.