Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Four Agreements


The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz


Every once in a while, a person lands themselves upon a book that is life-changing.  This Four Agreements book is one of those life-changing books.  It's a small book -- one that can be read in an afternoon; its message is simple -- one that can teach us all to live together as decent human beings.

Mr. Ruiz provides four very simple rules for life, and he calls these rules the Four Agreements.  The Four Agreements are: Be Impecable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best.

My words would dilute the author's directive, so I have decided to quote the inner jacket.


Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  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.

Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is beause 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.

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-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.


I kid you not, I finished this book, and hollered "I want to be that person!  I wanna be like that." I know that I'm supposed to be impeccable with my word -- which includes the bashing of myself -- but I'll be forthright and tell you all that I have a loooong way to go.  Riding a camel through all of Arabia would be easier.  (Unless, of course, Lawrence came with me.  Watching this Lawrence, however, would prolly take as long as riding a camel through all of Arabia.)

Have you ever made a decision in your life, a decision that's going to take some work and gutbuckets-full of change?  And once you've resolved yourself to the climbing of this monumental precipice, you're hit between the eyes with a scenario that tests your resolve to the very max?  Yeah, that happened.  And I blew it.   Sort of.

The cessation of repeated suffering for mistakes is a founding principle of this book  We shouldn't beat ourselves up over and over for stuff.  Humans are the only species who repeatedly punish ourselves for mistakes.  The agreements insist that we acknowledge our mistakes, and move on.  It's counter-productive to mull over mishaps by hoarding them in a tea bag, and dunking that bag repeatedly.

It seems that this book has blessed me with a new spidey sense, (remind me some day to tell you about my many spidey senses) for now I am acutely aware of every negative thought, action, and word oozing about by personal specimen.  And gossip?  Oh dear.  That's a hard one.  So hard is this one, that I felt the need to fabricate a playlist in gossip's honor. Wanna test your resolve?  Try going a whole day without gossip.  And don't justify yourself by proclaiming certain conversations as not gossip.  Try it.  Let me know what happens.

Truth is, I'm a sadistically-sarcastic, overbearingly-opinionated human being with a dark-'n-sooty sense of humor.  Those characteristics don't exactly jive well with some folks.  I'm also a person who doesn't necessarily specialize in being serious.  So when things start to wax weighty (according to my own serious-odometer), I start making fun.  Some people like that about me, while others most certainly do not.  This is my personality.  It's who I am.  If I were to change all that, I wouldn't be me, and quite honestly I'm happy to be me.

Now a few words on my overbearing opinions.  I have some STRONG opinions, and I've been known to voice said opinions over every river and woods between here and Pensylvania.  Do I require that the whole world share these opinions?  Do I require that my friends share these opinions?  Do I dislike people who are different?  Do I really have to answer these questions?

The answer is a vehement "absolutely not" on all accounts.  Our family motto is "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO." In all caps, no less.  If I'm going to insist that others refrain from bossing me around, I most assuredly cannot do any bossing myself, and this includes the insistence of shared opinions.  Your opinions make your personality.  It's who you are.  If you were to change that, you wouldn't be you, and quite honestly I'm happy that you are you.

So, yes, I'm going to work on those agreements, but I'll still be that same sadistically-sarcastic, overbearingly-opinionated human being with a dark-'n-sooty sense of humor.  If you don't like me because of this, that's fine, but don't expect me to dislike you in return.  I only have a few decades left in my life, and I refuse to spend energy on not liking people.  Therefore, I won't assume that you don't like me, and if it's known that you don't like me, I won't take it personally.  I will also do my best to speak kind words of you.

This is my promise to me.




Sparks said...

I read this and started fretting, thinking that you were going to say that this life-changing book was making you into someone entirely different when I like you just as you are.

lifein360 said...

I too loved this book. Most often I find books like these weighted down heavily with GOD stuff but this one did not. Lots of good lessons for the rest of I am already perfect. Duh.

Makell said...

Ohhh- I love that last paragraph about only having so much time left and choosing not to waste it on not liking people. I think I needed to read that and let it hit me square between the eyes..gratzie:).

Jessica said...

I NEED to read this. Good thing there are libraries in the world (and down the street).

I like your interpretation of these agreements into your life. It makes me more excited to read it.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

"DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO" is eerily similar to John Locke's "DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO."

Just thought I would point that out.

As for the refusal not to be sadistically sardonic: good call.