This book came to me from the Human Resources person at my previous job. I had gone to her to ask advice on how to communicate with another member of our team and she had a lot of great advice, but she recommended this book.
It came up again when I was talking to our Human Resources person at my new job. We were discussing great resources and I mentioned my old HR person loved this book and I realized I had never actually gotten around to reading it.
Once I finished reading it, I spoke with her again and told her some of the drawbacks and she mentioned some others that might be more in line with my life philosophy and pretty much lack of spirituality. That being said this book still had some great points that I appreciated and think anyone can put into practice in their own life.
The four agreements are very simple and are espoused by all sorts of HR professionals, spiritual counselors and practitioners, and others:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
Pretty basic right? Well I don’t know about you, but two and three I feel I will always struggle with. Even if you KNOW it’s not personal and you KNOW it’s not said in a mean way, you will take it personal and assume they are being mean. I don’t like that I do it and I know that I need to work on understanding that.
Sometimes it’s just taking a deep breath and saying okay reset and relax. Other times it’s having to have a conversation about something because it happens over and over. Still other times, you just have to let it haunt you for a really long time and then something finally clicks and you say okay I’m done. (I read a good book about this a while ago, The Power of Forgiveness, that I should probably revisit again.)
What really got me, especially now going back almost a month later, was just how spiritual it was. The constant discussions of heaven and hell and of poison was a bit much. Ruiz did a good job of trying to find multicultural and multi-spiritual examples of everything he spoke about, but again as someone who is pretty non-spiritual it just got to be a bit too much. I guess it was a good thing it was such a fast read.
I am going to finish out the original three books of the Toltec Wisdom books he wrote including The Mastery of Love and The Voice of Knowledge, but I’m not holding my breath to take too much away from them.
Recommendation: It’s interesting to read and to see it from a more spiritual perspective, but it really wasn’t for me. I’m hoping if I read one of the others the new Human Resources person suggested I’ll connect with it a little better.
Opening Line: “Thousands of years ago, the Toltec where known throughout southern Mexico as ‘women and men of knowledge.'”
Closing Line: “My choice is to live in heaven. What is yours?” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)
Additional Quotes from The Four Agreements
“The word is so powerful that one word can change a life or destroy the lives of millions of people. Some years ago one man in Germany, by the use of the word, manipulated a whole country of the most intelligent people. He led them into a world war with just the power of his word. He convinced others to commit the most atrocious acts of violence. He activated people’s fears with the word, and like a big explosion, there was killing and war all around the world. All over the world humans destroyed other humans because they were afraid of each other. Hitler’s word, based on fear-generated beliefs and agreements, will be remembered for centuries.” (27)
“Your opinion is nothing but your point of view. It is not necessarily true. Your opinion comes from your beliefs, your own ego, and your own dream. We create all this poison and spread it to others just so we can feel right about our own point of view.” (43)
“We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally, because usually we start gossiping about the way we communicate to each other in the dream of hell and transfer poison to one another. Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering.” (64-65)
“…our agreements are actually like a strong addiction. We are addicted to being the way we are. We are addicted to anger, jealousy, and self-pity. We are addicted to the beliefs that tell us, ‘I’m not good enough, I’m not intelligent enough. Why even try. Other people will do it because they are better than me.'” (110)