M's Reviews > The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
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F_50x66
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Jul 15, 07

Recommended for: people with an hour to kill; people who are limitlessly optimistic (or striving to be)
Read in July, 2007

Thank you, this book, for making me realize what a cynical asshole I am. By being skeptical of people who appear to suck, I am apparently doing a disservice to myself and to the Creator. And by judging myself when I make mistakes, a.k.a. stressing out when I screw up at work and have to fix it under pain of losing my job, I'm only contributing to my outer dream of Hell on Earth. Actually, by writing this paragraph I have probably put a few more nails in my psychological coffin.

All joking aside, this is a good little book for the cynicist in all of us (in? How about that is?). Parts of it made me angry because they seemed to stress forgiveness over all else -- and yeah, I know that's generally accepted wisdom and all, but sometimes people need more than forgiveness to move on from things in life, like forgiveness and then perpetual avoidance.

As a philosophy, the "four agreements" (be impeccable with your word, don't make assumptions, always do your best, and ... crap, I already forgot the fourth one) are a superbly idealistic way to approach everyday life, but ever the empiricist, I was disappointed that the author didn't give more concrete examples of how to apply them to various situations.

When you're listening to someone tell you how to live, you naturally want to counter with, "Well, what if [blank] happens and [so and so] says [blank]?" In that case, is being impeccable with my word mean I should tell that person that I am sorry he or she is such a pitiful waste of space and, oh, by the way, all your personal habits are annoying? I guess my idea of impeccable honesty may betray some of the other agreements I'm supposed to make with myself.

The best part of what the author is teaching here is that you should be unfazed by what people say, think, or do, be it positive or negative -- even when it's directed toward you. The thinking behind it is that people do and say things because of their own situations, not yours, so whenever they say something to or about you, it has nothing to do with you. If someone calls you fat, it's because they are insecure, no matter how much of a blimp you are. If someone says you are awesome, you don't need to cling to it like a desperate child because, in theory, you knew you were awesome already.

Plus, this takes no time to read. You could finish it in a commute or two and at least feel like you'd thought things over a little, if nothing else. And, granted, I had been having some insecurity issues surrounding my performance at work, and after reading the "Always Do Your Best" chapter on the bus Friday morning, I proceeded to have a pretty kick-ass day, so there is definitely irrefutable power in the simplicity presented therein.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Solace (last edited May 19, 2009 12:02PM) (new) - added it

Solace This book changed my life and allowed me to see my way out of a dangerous situation.Personaly I feel it was very good and pointing the finger in the direction of 99.9% of all your problems. This book should come with a warning (blinders will be removed after book is written and your life as you now know it will be changed)!


message 2: by Cosmic Sher (new) - added it

Cosmic Sher I loved your review of this book, really honest about your reactions to it. And it has actually made me want to read it, because your reactions seem to be exactly the right kind to have. If a book is telling you pieces of wisdom that you need to hear, usually your first reaction to it is emotional - and sometimes violently. And that is the first step to a change happening, if you listen, if you really want change. It doesn't mean you have to do what everything in the book says, or believe it all, it just means something resonated with you, 'twanged you up' & now you have to figure out what. Now you have to find the wisdom for you in all of it.

Those are the kind of books I want to find. :)


Angie There are other books, that go along with "The 4 agreements". The 4 agreements companion book. Also The voice of knowledge is good. I dare you to read them!! They are very helpful. Some people are really bitter about life. Those are the people who aren't ready to learn. When they are ready, I hope they remember this book.


message 4: by Jose (new)

Jose I always thought I had the power to prepare myself for this complex society. This book conceptualizes the miserable structure of society as a whole and provides the tools to deal with it.


Stacey Lynn Marissa, that was a seriously candid and hilariously funny review! Thanks!


Razael It is easy to read. Which is one huge +. I've read a lot of "make your life better" books and fail to understand them


Nymphredyl Ahahaha your review made me laugh mostly because I saw reflected my own reactions to the book. And yeah honesty can be a problem.


message 8: by Aaron (new) - added it

Aaron Wolfson From your review, I can tell why the one you forgot is "don't take things personally." :)

I agree that this advice isn't for everyone, and I'm glad you recognize that there are situations where you can still apply it.


Nagla Elsakka Pathwaytohappiness.com is a site by Gary van Warmerdam. He teaches you how to put the four agreements into practice. He has free podcasts to kind of explain the "lay of the land." There are also courses that can be purchased for a small fee, in my opinion.


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