THE FOUR AGREEMENTS
Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of the more eye opening stories I have read in a long time. In a way, I feel it to be similar in nature to the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, my personal favorite book, minus the narrative of getting the purpose across. The straight-up means of Ruiz sharing the philosophies by which he lives his life make them incredibly easy to digest and understand, and I believe all four are incredibly pivotal towards feeling not only fulfilled as a person, but also that the work one does is good and meaningful.
The first agreement, 'use words impeccably,' is one that really resonated with me. I have always felt that words were a tool for personal wellness, whether I was making a joke, congratulating a friend for their successes, or telling a loved one that I love them. But, this book really opened my eyes up to the double-sided nature that words can often have, and the abundance of unintended consequences that can come with them, often causing pain to others, whether malice was intended or not. The knowledge of how easily my words can not only hurt others if not carefully crafted, but also myself makes me rethink everything I say, analyze the connotations I utilize, and wonder how that can be perceived by others.
The second agreement, 'don't take anything personally,' is probably the hardest to grasp by anyone, in my opinion. Everybody tends to be very self-absorbed, understandably, since it is their life and their main priority should always remain themself. This is something that I struggle with very much, and I try to always consider others and the consequences of my actions, good or bad, on their lives. Ruiz speaks of the importance of not letting others' words hurt personally, as negativity spewed upon others always comes from a place of self-resent, arrogance, and jealousy. While I agree that this is true, sometimes people do need to take things to heart. It is incredibly essential to take note of when someone's critiques of your being is good natured or not, and with that, like Ruiz preaches, it is important to not take it personally. I think it is equally important to ponder over the nature of the comment in order to determine if the statement truly can add value to who you are, or if it is a self-projection by others aimed to make their ego feel better.
The third agreement, 'don't make assumptions,' is a tough one to follow. Assumptions are something brains subconsciously do non-stop, and have been trained to do by the social state of the world we live in, where not only is gossip among inter-personal groups a consistent, recurring phenomenon, but in the way that so much of the world is involved in the drama of celebrities of which few of us will ever get to know personally. The abundance of this gossip and drama defines the way we grow up thinking, as it is something kids also often learn by seeing their parents partake in. It is incredibly hard to change the way we think. I personally think that it may be all but impossible to train the brain to stop making assumptions, but to be able to reflect on those assumptions and notice the flaws in the ways that we act is essential. Growing up, I have always had two voices in my head. One that says the first thing that comes to mind, trained by mass media and propaganda, and the other that says, "Slow down. Think about that again." The first voice is something that I have never been able to part ways with, but my ability to realize the negativity of assuming things immediately and to try and reflect upon my own subconscious thoughts has developed me into the person I am today.
The fourth and final agreement, 'always do your best,' is the perfect one to wrap up the novel. While performing the agreements already stated by Ruiz, it is important to accomplish them all in good nature. The goal of these skills is to develop yourself into being as internally flawless as possible, to eliminate bias within thinking strategies, and to make the world a better place one person at a time. Doing your best for not only yourself but for others around you helps to make others better through their perceptions of your internal processing and character. The best way to spread positivity and create fulfilling environments is to be the light in the darkness. Leading others through a path of self righteousness by growing the courage necessary to be the good creates rippling effects on those others. It is important to be a leader. Putting aside fears and insecurities in order to truly not only grow as a person but to develop society as a whole through your actions is how people learn. This book was an incredible, eye opening experience, and I can not recommend it any more.