Gondola yourself down the river of wisdom — it’s Toltec time.
Hey everybody, you’re here to improve your life and your business through books with us and this week’s book is:
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Be impeccable with your word
Don’t take anything personally
Don’t make assumptions
Always do your best
Make these four agreements with yourself and realize happiness and what he refers to as “heaven on earth.”
This is a wise and powerful book filled with the musings of the Toltecs, an ancient and wise people who devoted themselves to the understanding of life.
It’s easy to get lost in this book, the profundity is wrapped in such easy language. And yes there is profundity.
So, what are three things we can use from this book?
3 Things You Can Use
1. Your World
We start this worldly journey lost.
We do not pick the language we speak. We don’t pick the religion or morality we grow up with. The table manners, cut eat cut or cut cut eat.
It continues. Through school, we don’t choose what information we’re presented with, what our sponge minds get to sop up. We learn customs and socialization from our parents, from our peers and from our TV shows.
We are taught what it is to be human. We are taught what is expected of humans. What life should be like. And as a result, we learn to judge. To judge ourselves and to judge other people.
The rules of this social etiquette are trained into us through punishment and reward. We do an action that doesn’t fit with the expectation and we receive a punishment. We don’t like the punishment, so we avoid actions that are outside expectations.
When we meet the expectations we receive a reward. We like the attention we get when we do things the right way.
We do what mom and dad, older siblings, teachers and friends want us to do and we develop a tendency to do what others want to keep getting the rewards and the attention. With the fear of being punished and the fear of not getting the reward, we pretend to be what we are not, just to please others. To be good enough for someone else, we start acting.
“Trying to be good enough for them, we create an image of perfection — but we don’t fit this image, (though we try). But we are never going to be perfect from this point of view and not being perfect, we reject ourselves.”
“We try to hide ourselves and we pretend to be what we are not. The result is that we feel inauthentic and wear social masks to keep others from noticing this. And we are so afraid that somebody else will notice that we are not what we pretend to be.”
These problems are all spawned from the agreements we make growing up, without choice and without option. But it’s time to reset the agreements and start consciously making the right ones.
There are two sources for all of our people problems.
What would go through your head if I saw you on the street and said, “You are stupid.”
There are two ways to think about this.
What am I really saying and what is its impact on you?
What I’m really saying, has nothing to do with you. I’m mad, I’m afraid, I’m jealous, I’m sad, etc… You are the excuse for me to get mad and I get mad because I am dealing with my own fear or uncertainty in some way. I wouldn’t say something like that if I were in a better mood.
And through the other lens, what is the impact on you. If you take it personally, then maybe you believe you ARE stupid. You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said.
That’s a tough trap to get caught in. Maybe you don’t sing anymore because someone in a bad mood told you to stop singing. Now you have a built in inhibition that directly affects how you feel about a certain aspect of your personality or behavior, because you took what someone said personally, that you shouldn’t have.
… And even if they thought they meant it, they couldn’t know that about you. They couldn’t know if you were really stupid or if you really couldn’t sing, they can only tell from their limited data set they’ve collected about you. The only person who spends every moment with you is you. You are the only one with all the data about you, so you are the only one who can know the real truth about yourself.
So that’s one.
Don’t take things personally. Good, bad, or other, because people not only can’t really know you, but they are also influenced by moods and fear to say things and express their moods.
The other source involves making an ass out of you and me.
Ass u me. Assume.
We, as humans, feel the need to understand and explain everything, in order to feel safe. And it’s not important if the answer is correct, just the answer itself is necessary. Thus, mass-assumption.
If others tell us something, we make assumptions. If they don’t tell us something, we make assumptions. If we hear something we don’t understand, we make assumptions for what it means. And the worst part, is our assumptions become our truths. We believe our assumptions, despite the fact that they are speculations.
We paint a whole picture of who someone is, how they feel about us and what they meant by their ambiguous comment, brush-stroking our painting with assumption after assumption.
The author says, “whenever we make assumptions, we are asking for problems.
We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally and we end up creating a whole big unnecessary drama.
All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.”
3. Do Your Best
Take action, do your best and repeat.
Take Forrest Gump for example. He didn’t have great ideas, but he took action. He was happy because he always did his best. And he was richly rewarded without expecting any reward at all.
And you DO have good ideas. Consider what the other side could look like after you take action and you do your best.
If you take action just for the sake of doing it and do your best without expecting a reward, you’ll find you enjoy every action that you do.
Most people only take action when they expect a reward and they don’t even enjoy the action, that’s the reason why they don’t do their best.
They suffer through work all week, waiting for the weekend. But the weekend is never worth it. Why?
What’s missing has no physical parameters. It’s the work itself that you must throw yourself into and give your best. If you do work for the sake of the reward, you can’t enjoy it. If you do work to do work, you are left with no barrier.
And always do your best. Whatever you know it to be.
Your best changes. When you wake up, energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you’re tired at night. It will be better when you’re healthy than when you’re sick and it will be better when you’re happy as opposed to upset.
“If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end, you will falter. If you do less than your best you subject yourself to frustrations, self judgment, guilt and regret.
But when you do your best, whatever it is in that moment, you don’t feel guilty or blame yourself and you have no regrets.
If you always do your best, there’s no way you can look down on or judge yourself.
And the more you practice doing your best, the better your best will become. Practice makes the master.
When you always do your best, you take action and it is doing your best and action that are going to make you feel happy.
Reset the agreements you have made with yourself – and make some good ones
If you don’t want any more problems, stop assuming things and taking things personally
and always do your best and take action if you want to feel really good
This book starts off with an explanatory preamble, getting you on the same page as him, before you journey together into his solutions.
And a lot of it makes sense, and sense in a poetic and symbolic sense, though at some points I was thinking to myself, “…uh, what?”
But I am an idiot.
Most of this review was filtered through my way of processing. So you don’t get the human domestication, the judge and the victim in our minds and the world is a dream framings that he presents.
And lots of talk about magic, which if you take it symbolically, still fits the paradigm.
It was deep enough to feel profound while still approachable enough to be practical. There’s a reason why this book has been a bestseller for over eight years.
If you want it, get it!
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we’ll see you next week!
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