How to Find Happiness in Your True Self

An exclusive Gaiam Life interview with co-authors don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz on their new book ‘The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery.’

Since 1997, the Toltec teachings of don Miguel Ruiz have become known worldwide. His first book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, became a New York Times best seller and has sold around 4 million copies. His son, don Jose Ruiz, has begun to teach with don Miguel, and their collaboration has led to the creation of The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery — a deeper and more intricate guide to finding your true self.

In this exclusive interview with Gaiam Life, don Miguel and don Ruiz describe the intention behind sharing the new agreement, as well as their experience of working together to spread their message of happiness, hope and truth.

Coauthors of The Fifth Agreement don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz

Interview with the authors:

GAIAM: Why do you think that The Four Agreements book was so well received, being that it was a New York Times best-seller for more than 7 years?

DON MIGUEL: The Four Agreements showed everybody how easy it is just to be happy. It’s nothing but common sense. It’s universal, not just from Mexico, really. It has come directly from the human intelligence.
Once you read it and start applying it, even later—months after—you will see that it’s like you read another book, and it’s not that the book changed, but you changed, because the limitations that you used to have before no longer exist. It’s like you have a guide in your pocket.

How did creation of The Fifth Agreement come about?

DON JOSE: In 2002, when my dad had his heart attack, followed by a nine-week coma, I had the reflection and I had the inspiration that I was going to continue on with his teachings. Seven years have past and this book is the creation that came out of it.

The fifth agreement is to be skeptical, but learn to listen—to learn to listen from your heart. It’s to be skeptical about the problems, about the drama, about all the negative emotions that are offered to us in this life, so that when we learn to listen, we know what is good for us.

DON MIGUEL: This agreement is the level of mastery, when you finally finish with yourself completely, and you can be in world and you no longer need any teacher, any guru, because you become your own teacher, your own guru.

Describe the four agreements. 

DON MIGUEL: The first is to be impeccable with the word. Which means speaking with integrity and saying only what you mean. This also means avoiding gossip and using your word in favor of love and truth.

The second agreement is to not take anything personally because everybody creates their own reality, their own world, and whatever lives in their world is different than what lives in your world. We make the assumption that everybody around us lives the same way we do, and judges the same way we judge—and this is not true at all.  By not taking anything personally, well, we have that immunity in our relationships with everybody around us.

And when we don’t make assumptions, with the third agreement, that gives us immunity in the relationship that we have with ourselves.

I know that the first three agreements are a little difficult, but the fourth agreement is what makes a difference, because it’s something that everyone can do, and it’s always do your best—it’s the only thing we can do. 
Just by following these simple four agreements, we can break thousands and thousands of false agreements that we create and that rule our lives. 

The Five Agreements


Speak with integrity. Say only whay 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.


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.


Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just his one agreement, you can completely transform your life.


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.


Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind the words, and you will understand the real message.

Why didn’t you include the fifth agreement in this first book?

DON MIGUEL: As you see, this agreement comes from the other four agreements, and the reason that I didn’t include it 13 years ago is because at that time the people that I tried to teach, they were not ready for this agreement, but Don Jose proved me wrong by teaching it.

What do you mean when you say we are all messengers?

DON MIGUEL: When we’re children, we receive messages from everybody—from our parents, from the school, from everything—we hear all those opinions, we make all those opinions ours, and we learn a way to grow up and start sharing all those opinions with everybody. We are always giving and receiving information, giving messages, then, by nature we are all messengers. But we don’t have the awareness, we just give the message without awareness, and we destroy many of the messages that we send and receive.

What kind of messenger are you?  Are you delivering lies, or are you delivering truth?

DON JOSE: We are all messengers because we are all artists—Toltec means ‘artist’. When you ask yourself what kind of messenger are you, it’s like asking yourself what kind of life am I living? Do I love my life? Do I like the life I’m living? Well if you don’t like it you can change your life, and if you don’t like your message you can change your message. And this is the beautiful part to realize—that we are storytellers and we can create the most beautiful story.

Talk about the experience of the collaboration of working on a book together?

DON JOSE: The collaboration of this book is the message of me teaching with my father, and just the love between us. I am very grateful to him, for standing by me through all my stupidity while I was growing up.  Now I have the opportunity to be with him and to share his message—this is the best gift that can be.

What would tell someone who was trying to follow the agreements everyday?  Who wanted to wake up everyday be reminded of them and practice them?

DON JOSE: People should always remember to respect their world, to respect their body, to respect their mind, and do not let any dream of poison have them sacrifice their heaven away, because what could be more powerful—what heartbreak, what drama—could be more powerful that we would give our heaven away? Always remember, the faith is in ourselves and we can transform with action and love for ourselves.

Is there a sixth agreement?

DON JOSE: No, this is the last. But there is nothing else to explain. When you become your own teacher, and apprentice, that’s basically when you learn respect, and you learn to live in a dream of gratitude—and gratitude is gratitude to be alive, gratitude to have a body.

And what do you hope people will take away from reading this book?

DON JOSE: Well, the most beautiful message that is in this book, is to help us to change the world—and we’re not talking about the world outside of us, I mean the world inside our minds.

DON MIGUEL: We all came into this beautiful planet with a mission. The only mission, and it’s the same for every single human that we have on this beautiful planet earth, is to make ourselves happy.

The Fifth Agreement

The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery is a sequel to The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book), published in 1997.

Read an excerpt from The Fifth Agreement



About the authors:


For nearly three decades, don Miguel Ruiz has shared his unique blend of ancient wisdom and modern day awareness through lectures, workshops and journeys to sacred sites around the world. Sales of his books have soared to more that seven million copies in the United States alone, and have been translated into more than 30 languages worldwide.


In the tradition of his ancestors, don Jose Ruiz has dedicated his life to sharing the teachings of the ancient Toltec. For the past seven years, he has been lecturing and leading classes across the United States, and at the sacred sites around the world.

Interview and book excerpts from The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-MasteryThe Fifth Agreement Book©2010 by don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz printed with permission from Amber Allen Publishing, Inc.

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