Today is the last of three consecutive days of memoir/self-help type books (they coincidentally happened that way).
Today’s Bookbag book is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills. Like yesterday’s book, it’s a wildly popular best seller (on the NYT bestseller list for over a decade, according to the description on Amazon).
Unlike yesterday’s book, it’s definitely more self-help than funny memoir (it’s not really that at all). The introduction tells a story of a caveman (or a man 3,000 years ago who happens to live in a cave) who discovers stars and dreams and the meaning of life, the best I can tell. My old uncle would call it “hippy dippy.”
He had discovered that he was a mirror for the rest of the people, a mirror in which he could see himself. “Everyone is a mirror,” he said.
I confess to skipping the introduction when I read this for myself a while back because I wanted to get to the practical stuff.
The premise of the book is because of societal pressures coming from a system of punishments and rewards, we’ve been pretending to be what we’re not. The authors term this as “domestication” and assert that it isn’t death we fear, it’s the risk it takes to live as our true selves. The Four Agreements are new agreements we make with ourselves, that when made, allow us to dump a lot of the unnecessary baggage we get from the world.
The agreements are (with an excerpt from each one):
Be Impeccable with Your Word
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, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
Don’t Make Assumptions
We only see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear. We don’t perceive things the way they are.
Always Do Your Best
It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself.
I found the advice in the agreements chapters to be most practical. The introduction and conclusion chapters are more “hippy dippy.” But with both elements there, the book appeals to many personalities and reading styles.
Also in my Bookbag: Freakonomics
What F titles are in your Bookbag?