This book, by don Miguel Ruiz, has come up several times in recent conversations with friends, so I decided the topic was blog-worthy. I warned you I was prone to peddle books I like, but to be honest, I haven't actually read this book. I heard about it on Oprah years ago, and borrowed a copy from a friend. I have only made it so far as to read and memorize the actual Four AgreementsTM, which are:
"1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret. " (agreements and text from website, see link above)
No matter what you believe, which deity you follow or which faith you subscribe to, these four "deceptively simple" agreements, when practiced, can have a dramatic effect on your life. They should be written on your palm with a permanent marker, carved to your doorpost, painted in glow in the dark paint on the ceiling above your bed, or cross-stitched into a sampler to hang on your wall. While they are simple, they are not simplistic, to borrow a phrase I heard in a sermon on a slightly different, but ultimately similar, topic. A great man who walked the earth long ago offered a similar code of conduct in just one word: love. We have come so far, I'm afraid, that the meaning of the word "love" has been lost in translation. If we have love for ourselves, love for eachother and love for the whole, the Four Agreements will be a cinch, but if we struggle with the concept of this type of love, the Four Agreements might help us find the meaning.
It is often very difficult not to take things personally, make assumptions, live up to your word, or be all that you can be (sorry Army). I do believe that when I remind myself of Agreement 1,2,3 and/or 4, I experience a profound improvement in interpersonal relationships, and a better sense of well being. Of course, I sometimes get my feelings hurt, say something I don't mean, berate myself and make an ass of "u" and me, but hey, I'm only human, trying to do my best.