Have you heard of this? A friend recommended the book, The Four Agreements, but I never got around to actually getting it for over a year. After accidentally stumbling onto the book at my local library, I said why the hell not. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Here are the four agreements: Be impeccable with your word; Don’t take anything personally; Don’t make assumptions; Always do your best.
The book explains the first agreement is the most important. Be impeccable with your word. Makes sense, but why exactly this one? It’s where the power we create comes from. You’ve heard the saying, if your word is your bond, don’t let it be junk bond. However, it’s not that simple. You also have to deflect bad messages coming your way, even when they go way back and were most likely planted by your parents. Rewriting the messages you’ve received over the years isn’t easy, but it’s helpful to know everyone has received false assessments of their character from others.
Next, don’t take anything personally. Anything? This is way easier said than done. And though I’ve looked for the recipe to obtain a thicker skin, I haven’t found it yet. After a few days, the times we’ve been offended or dismissed fade, but it still takes time. In situations like this you need to definitely consider the source. Have you ever volunteered and were yelled at? That totally sucks. The book says when this happens it isn’t about us, it’s about the other person. Still, it sucks. For me, this is when a warm bubble bath and cocktail comes in handy. This message was not in the book.
The third agreement is don’t make assumptions. Okay, this is a practiced sport, but one I can do. Having said that, sometimes we have to make split-second assumptions that could potentially save our lives. Like whether or not to open your front door to a complete stranger. The book explains the problem with making assumptions is not changing that assumption when new information is received. Did you ever think someone was dumb just because they made one mistake? Pay attention to updating your impression when new information is received.
And finally, always do your best. This goes without saying. Don’t half ass it. Show up. It stands to reason if you’re going to do something, do it well. But there are times when our batteries run low and we suffer from burnout. If you can, take a break. Five minutes, one week, whatever you need to recharge.
This was a quick, easy read that can be knocked out in a day. I would have liked more real-life scenarios because I always learn from other’s mistakes, and there are few, just not enough to drive the messages home completely. But if you’re just getting started with existentialism, this book is an excellent place to start.