Monday, October 11, 2010

This book will change your life

Seriously, it will.

I'm friends with NPR on facebook.  We hang out.  In September they posted this story about three self-help books worth reading.  I don't really have strong feelings about fung shui, I like my systems, and the third book is really freakin' long, but the other one, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is wonderful.  

It is written by Don Miguel Ruiz and is based on Toltec wisdom.  I'm still not sure what that means but I do know that I like it.  So here are the four agreements (from the inside of the dust jacket):

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 your.  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.

He has some weird thoughts about abuse but, those thoughts aside, the rest of the book is fantastic.  And I am totally not exaggerating when I say it will change things.  

For example, on Sunday, right before the first service, I found out that some people at the church where I'm working were upset about some things but I didn't find out the whole story.  I could feel the panicky feelings of worry and paranoia setting in.  "They don't like me, what did I do, why don't they like me, why does everyone hate me?"  Then I stopped and thought, "Don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions," and I felt the feelings subside.  Then, later on, I found out it had nothing to do with me at all.  I was so glad that I didn't allow those feelings to dominate my life for a full day and keep me from being myself, which I am prone to do.  

There is today's public service announcement.  Come back next time for the story of how I found rat feces in my house this morning! 

An afterthought: In light of all the horrible, HORRIBLE news of GLBT young people taking their lives in recent weeks, it occurred to me that these kinds of messages could really help people who are struggling with, quite literally, living with themselves.  It is not your problem, it is their problem.  It is their hell (as Ruiz would put it), not yours.  This message, along with "it will get better, I promise" is so, so important.  Does it not just break your heart?


  1. reading your blog came in really convenient yesterday--because I had the occasion to say to myself "don't take this personally." and I didn't. and it wasn't about me anyway. :)

  2. it's amazing how it ACTUALLY WORKS.