One Of My Favorite Books

I discovered this book several years ago, while I was still in college.  It was featured in Oprah's magazine & on her show, so I picked it up.  Its a quick read, a little over 100 pages, but very powerful.

The premise behind the book is that in life we make agreements - with ourselves, with our parents, our siblings, our friends, our teachers, our co-workers, etc.  Agreements can be anything -values or beliefs you're taught as a child, things people tell you, even the thoughts you have about yourself.  These agreements keep us unhappy, unloved, doubting ourselves, etc.

The Four Agreements are four ideas, principles, affirmations that are small but powerful.  They are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally
  3. Don't Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

See, I told you, short but powerful.   But what do these agreements mean?  Here's a quick rundown:  Be Impeccable With Your Word - in short, say what you mean & mean what you say.  Don't lie, don't embellish, don't gossip.  Don't Take Anything Personally - recognize that what folks say about you is really a reflection of how they view themselves, so don't get offended.  Don't Make Assumptions - ask questions & speak what you want or feel, make sure everyone is clear.  Always Do Your Best - Your best changes from day to day, moment to moment, so simply give as much as you can & you will be satisfied & happy.

As I look back on these agreements, I see how I've implemented them into my life & how much I have changed.  The biggest one has to be Don't Take Anything Personally - I used to get real upset over what people said about me or to me.  But not anymore; I now recognize that the majority of unsolicited negativity I receive is a reflection of how that person views themselves.  So when a friend of a friend bad-mouthed me to anyone who would listen, I was able to move forward with a smile on my face, confident in the fact that I'm none of the things she claims I am.  Just yesterday, a woman I've never even met told a dear friend that I was "simple, immature & basic" and when I heard those words, all I could do was laugh & feel sorry for her.  It must suck to feel such things about yourself & lash out at someone you don't even know.  Not taking things personally gives me the freedom to stay happy & serene with my life & the people I let in it.

The hardest agreement for me is Always Be Impeccable With Your Word - I probably shouldn't admit this but since I was a child I have been able to lie with a straight face.  And I still love my gossip sites.  But I do try to make sure that what I speak & put into the Universe is what I truly mean to convey, and that I do it in a way that doesn't leave it up to misinterpretation or confusion.  I'm working on the gossip part, and even though I can lie with a straight face, I don't do it often...tho sometimes its necessary, like when I got pulled over last week (got off with a warning, yay! I sho didn't need that ticket).

Always Do Your Best and Don't Make Assumptions were relatively easy for me to implement into my life.  As a child, my mother always encouraged my siblings & I to do our best & that has always stuck with me.  Even when life was challenging & relied on God & others for strength, I always did my best, as my mother always told me to do.  I've always tended to follow the agreement of Don't Make Assumptions without even realizing it - as a scientist I'm very inquisitive by nature, and I tend to have a very straight-forward attitude.  I don't believe in leaving things up to interpretation, I like things to be out in the open & on the table, so that everyone knows what's going on & acts accordingly.

Some events from this weekend reminded me of this book, so I pulled it off my shelf when I got back into town.  Its helped me tremendously in my life and I hope it brings something to those of you who wish to open it up.

Have you read this book?  How has it affected you?  Got another book recommendation?  Let me know in the comments.