New Years’ Resolutions: The Four Agreements

Written by David Sauro

A New Year’s Resolution is a popular tradition in which one decides to make a positive change to their daily habits by changing an undesired trait or behavior to accomplish a personal goal and improve their life somehow, someway, to make themselves healthier and happier. A New Year’s Resolution is for a NEW YOU.

We all know the common New Year’s Resolutions (NYR) are to lose weight, start an exercise program, quit smoking, cut back or stop drinking alcohol, improve your finances, and/or get more sleep. Blah, blah, blah, as my wife often says. Many people set the same or similar NYR every year and never stick to them. Research shows that approximately 88% of NYR fail within thirty days, so that by February first, the “old you” is back.

Instead of thinking you need to change to make yourself “better,” focus on resolving to do more of the things that make you feel good about yourself and happier with your life. Resolutions rooted in selfcriticism or desire to fix oneself physically, tend to not work out well. The flip side is resolutions that focus on joy, pleasure, happiness, and enthusiasm tend to have more of a staying power.

I recently read a short book, that is an easy read and has a very profound theme, titled “The Four Agreements” by Don Miquel Ruiz. It has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over ten years and has a meaningful message that is appropriate to consider for your NYR. The agreements are based upon the teachings of the “Toltec” nation, hundreds of years ago, from southern Mexico. The four agreements offer a powerful code of conduct, acting as a guide to personal freedom, that can rapidly transform one’s life to a new experience of peace, true happiness, and love. The challenge is to make these four agreements a part of your everyday life.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word (Quotes from the book) (pg.27) “Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” (pg. 30) “The word is not just a sound. The word is a force, it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life. You can speak. The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges, you can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.” Be impeccable with your word because that represents you. Whatever we want to change, first, we need to start with ourselves. The challenge is to be positive every day and avoid using the word to speak against yourself, or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Through your words you can build yourself up and build others up, or you can destroy, so speak to build yourself and others up, not to destroy yourself or tear others down. When you are impeccable with your word, you naturally build up. There is a popular expression “Say only what you mean and mean what you say.” So true but often difficult to live by. Our words reflect ourselves. Be positive and impeccable with your words. Even if you have something challenging to speak to, speaking with impeccability, coming from a place of total integrity within yourself, will make that challenging situation a more positive one, no matter how negative the situation may be. Start every day by making a promise to yourself that “today, I will be impeccable with my words, I will only lift up.”

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally (Quotes from the book) (pg. 51) “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” (pg. 64) “When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life. Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear and even your sadness will simply disappear if you don’t take things personally.”

You are never responsible for the actions and words of others. They live their life; you live your life. We need to live with respect, because with respect we find peace with ourselves and everyone else. When someone says things about you, it is not about you, but them. If you take it personally, you are taking on their garbage, and you suffer for nothing. It drains your energy. Misery loves company and when you accept others misery it only makes you miserable. Don’t take others words or actions against you personally, and then you can experience inner peace and happiness.

You are the director, producer, and main character in your own life movie and the agreements that you live by is the story of your life. Do the best you can to avoid negativity—that which we receive from others, and that which we give ourselves. Do not take any of the negativity personally. Take it as a sign that something is out of balance and needs attention! Challenge yourself to flip the negatives to positives. Surround yourself with positive people. Communicate positively with all and that positive energy will come back to you.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions (Quotes from the book) (pg. 67) “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.” (pg. 75) “We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse. This is the biggest assumption that humans make.”

Drama and sadness in one’s life usually comes from making assumptions or taking things personally. Judgements lead to assumptions, so start judging less and vowing to understand more. Communicate as clearly as you can. If you need to clarify something, don’t assume but ask questions so you can clearly understand. Make sure that you are on the same page. Don’t assume anything, when you do you can make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.

The Fourth Agreement: Do Your Best (pg. 81) “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 being sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.” (pg. 84) “Under any circumstances, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. (pg. 84) Do your best in each action you take. There are times when your mood changes or circumstances change, or you may not have the energy to do your best but do as best as you can anyways! Try your best to live in the moment and live to be good to yourself and good to your family and all those you encounter.

Do your best every day to spread joy, to be happy and to love.

In addition to practicing the Four Agreements for a New Year Resolution, there are also many other types of NYR one can make:

1. Volunteer—doing something kind and selfless for others.
2. Do random acts of kindness. Know that it is better to be thoughtful and kind. Be one to spread smiles, joy, and laughter. What you do does not have to be big to make a big difference in the world.
3. Be a family member or friend to someone who let’s go of grudges and leaves bad feelings and memories behind. Be one who talks less and listens more.
4. Remove negativity or anything that makes you feel lousy.

Treat yourself and others with dignity, respect, and love. Be a friend to yourself, no selfjudgement, negative talk, and no regret and guilt. Not every day is the same. Each and every day, be kind to yourself and others, and always do your best! Do not be concerned about the future; keep your attention on today and stay in the present moment. Just live one day at a time. Always do your best to keep these agreements. Wishing you health and happiness in 2021! Be Well!

We want to hear from you, whether it is about this article, COVID-19, or anything else health related. Send any questions and comments to [email protected]

The content shared from HOW (Heart of Wellness) is for informational purposes only and is not intended nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult with your doctor if any questions. HOW is a non-profit based in Centerville, MA and Boca Raton, FL. that specializes in mindful wellness and self-care programs along with professional development for schools, business, and communities.