I generally try to put as little negative energy into the universe as possible, but you wouldn't know it to look at the shitstorm that has taken place around here during the last couple days. (My only defense, and it's feeble, is that this week has been half-described quite accurately in the first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens: "It was the [...] worst of times, it was the [...] age of foolishness, it was the [...] epoch of incredulity, it was the [...] season of Darkness, it was the [...] winter of despair, we had [...] nothing before us.")
Therefore, in an attempt to even out the karmic balance, I have decided to write a review of The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Published in 1997, the book aims to "reveal the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering," mostly by changing how we think about ourselves and the world around us.
The Four Agreements are as follows:
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.
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.
Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask the 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.
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.
While some would probably classify the book as New Age nonsense, I think we can definitely learn a lot just from trying to follow Ruiz's advice. The book is easy to read and, while I have some minor quibbles with the theories presented, the positive aspects far outweigh the negative aspects.
I would heartily recommend everyone read this book at least once. For those of you who want a more passive approach, here's a pretty good video of the Four Agreements, set to the music Loreena McKennit.