“No [one] can reveal to you [anything] but that which already lies half-asleep in the dawning of your knowledge” -Khalil Gibran. I love this quote so much, and I feel that it is an essential premise with which to begin this blog. I have recently stumbled upon a life-changing book that was written in 1997 and spent more than seven years on the New York Times bestsellers list. It’s called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, written by don Miguel Ruiz.
The reason I mention the quote by Gibran is that I feel quite certain that had I read this beautiful book when it first came out, I would have found it to be utterly ridiculous nonsense. Surely I would have seen it as overly simplistic and an insult to my intelligence. I might not have made it half way through the book before giving up, assuming that I already knew everything it was trying to teach me. Well, guess what? I would have broken all four of the agreements! I just wasn’t ready back then. I was brimming with anger and fear and so many opinions! The “dawning of my knowledge” had not yet begun.
These are The Four Agreements:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
Yes, they are simple and straight-forward. Yes, you likely do most, if not all of them, to a certain extent already. But, do you do them with fidelity? Do you know the wisdom behind each of them? For example, were you aware that the word impeccable translates to “without sin?” The first agreement is a challenge to be ever mindful of the power of your words. Basically, to make the agreement you must agree to not use your words to gossip, to deceive, to pass judgment or to inflict pain on another…or yourself. That’s probably a lot more than you thought it meant and maybe more complex than it first appeared.
The beauty of these agreements is the fact that you only have to make them with yourself in order to change everyone and everything around you. No other person in your life (at home, work, school, church, etc.) has to be on board with them or even know that you’ve made them. HOWEVER; they’ll know, because everything about you will be different. Your life will improve as soon as you begin to put the agreements in practice, for you will be initiating the process of achieving mastery of self.
The fourth agreement, to always do your best, is meant to describe the way you are to approach the first three. Thankfully the author acknowledges that “your best” is given to fluctuation as well as lapses. If you fall short in any part of the agreements (which we are all likely to do), you need only to get up the next day and agree to do your best again. After all, the four agreements are meant to build your self-worth and life satisfaction, not to tear you down.
My one caveat about the book is that it is written from a spiritual perspective, and some readers may be turned off by the references to Toltec Wisdom or God or Buddha. I would ask that you give it a chance based on its merits, if you are likely to dismiss items written from a religious or mystical viewpoint. Also, if you’ve read the book before and thought it was a complete waste of time, consider giving it another look. Maybe now is the time to see yourself, the book, and the world with new eyes.
As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” If you’d like help with finding new ways to solve old problems, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.