Recommended Reading: The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
I just finished writing a summary for another book that I cannot recommend enough; "The Four Agreements" by don Miguel Ruiz. Ruiz's writing style is concise and easy to understand. He's very "to the point" and his books read quickly. In my opinion "The Four Agreements" is an excellent place to start for any journey of self-improvement. I've also read "The Mastery of Love" which I would recommend as well. To be honest, anything written by Ruiz is a great place to start.
"The Four Agreements" starts off by explaining that as children we are "domesticated" by our parents, siblings, teachers, etc. We are taught how to think, how to act and how to live. As we become domesticated we form what Ruiz calls "agreements." These agreements collectively form what becomes our belief system. Examples of agreements are "the big yellow ball in the sky is the sun"...or "the thing we sit down on is called a chair." We have all come to these "agreements" of what these things are called. As children, we don't choose these agreements, they are passed on to us. While the examples of the sun and chair are neutral, we can adopt agreements that affect us negatively. People are constantly passing their opinions on to us, and we often start to form agreements that we are not good enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough and not talented enough.
After we start to understand what these agreements do to us, and how much energy it requires to maintain them, Ruiz outlines four major agreements that will give us the power and energy to take our lives back. Here is a quick breakdown of the four agreements that Ruiz covers in this book:
The First Agreement: Always Be Impeccable With Your Word- Being impeccable with your word means to not use the word against yourself. Our word is used to create thoughts and ideas, and has an extreme amount of power. Examples of using the word against ourselves would be things like negative self-talk or saying something mean to someone else out of anger or jealousy.
The Second Agreement: Never Take Anything Personally- How many of us take things that other people do or say personally? I would guess probably all of us! This section discusses that nothing anyone ever does is a reflection of you. Everything that people do is a reflection of themselves. It's never personal.
The Third Agreement: Never Make Assumptions: Our brains have a hard a time with unreconciled thoughts. If someone cancels dinner on us without an explanation, our mind (from some strange reason) needs to know why. Rather than ask, our brain will make up a story and assume it as fact. Our brain doesn't care whether the story is true or not, as long as it has something to latch on to answer its questions. However, how many times have you been WRONG in your assumptions? Plenty! Never assume you know the full story. Even when people explain what's going on, do NOT make assumptions after that either. There is probably still more that you do not know. Everyone is on their own journey that you know nothing about. We are all doing the best we can to navigate through this life. Do NOT make assumptions.
The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best- I love this one! This one helps encompass the three above. You will not be perfect at adopting the first three agreements all of the time. The good news is that you can always do your best. Your best will not always be the same. It can change from day to day and moment to moment. At any moment you can be distracted, not feeling well, etc., so it is in your best interest to understand the fact that your best will not always be the same. That was a huge revelation for me. I have now realized that as long as I do my best, I will have no regrets. I also was able to accept that some days my best will not be as a good as other days...and that is OK.
My descriptions above do absolutely no justice to how valuable the information in this book is. I truly believe that this could be THE book to start the change in someone's life. If you are interested in learning more about the ideas in this book before investing the time to read the whole thing, click below to download my extended summary of it! I highlight all of the main points...and I know after reading through it you'll be inclined to pick up a copy and read the entire thing!
Extended Summary: Click here!