December 17th, 2011
Finished The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, after my post last week. Book two of our suggested reading. I knew it was going to be a koolaid book, I just wasn’t sure how much koolaid, or what flavor. (Quick aside: Koolaid – in reference to the suicide cult that drank koolaid because their leader told them it would take them to a better place, currently used to describe a rose-colored glasses, unrealistically optimistic view of the world.) Now, most of the koolaid I’ve been exposed to in the last few years is not bad, on the surface. They have good things to say, good things to think about, and even good things to guide your life by. It just becomes koolaid to me, when they go over the top. When they tell me my life will be Perfect, Ideal, or just plain Wonderful – if Only I’ll just do what they say, because it’s so Easy. The Four Agreements is no different (well, he at least, doesn’t say it will be easy). The agreements are good ideas, he just takes it a little too over the top for me.
The first is “be impeccable with your word.” Which he casts as meaning, to not blame or judge with your words, and I simplified in my own mind as not to be negative. Don’t say mean things to people, don’t say mean things to yourself. Don’t gossip. All around, to focus on having only positive thoughts, words and actions.
The second to “not taken anything personally” is the collary. If you’re not being negative, then don’t take on the negativity of others. But he also goes so far as to say, not to take their compliments personally either. The opinions of others, positive or negative, he says, should not matter to us, we are only who we think we are, and nothing more or less.
The third is “don’t make assumptions.” About anything. Basically, don’t have expectations, and you won’t be disappointed. But also, don’t assume you know why someone did something, or what they are going to do. In this section, he encourages you to ask questions, so that you have fact and not assumptions.
And the fourth is “always do your best.” Also a good idea in life. He takes the time to point out that your best on one day may not be the same as your best the next day or the day before. That your best is always changing, but is always the goal.
Now, none of these ideas is bad on the surface. Nor are any of them new. Though, I do have an immediate problem with social creatures not accepting praise and encouragement from others, but the idea behind it is sound. And if the book had been a pamphlet, clearly and cleanly explaining these four things, I would have been happy and good. It went far beyond that and lost me in its rose-colored world in each and every chapter.
No, I’m not being impeccable with my word now. I think that there are bad things in this world and they should be labeled bad. I think that we should protect one another and keep each other safe. I’m not saying this is a bad book and people shouldn’t read it. I’m just saying that the premises spoke to me, but the rest of it did not. I think that not taking on the unfounded negativity of others is good, but that constructive criticism ought to be listened to. I think assumptions are a part of life and we make the best conclusions we can. Yes, often we ought to ask more questions, and I will try harder to do so, but it’s not always possible. Do my best. Yep, that one I can get behind, and remembering that my best changes day to day is not hard for me. Getting my bosses to understand that, however is another story.
The ideas are good, but the suggestion that my life will be heaven if only I do these things, well, heaven is a lot of things to a lot of people, and in my world, life on earth will never be heaven. I have a great life, great friends, great family. But heaven is a completely different concept to me than what I could ever have here.
(Yes, readers, there will be a kinky post again soon, just dealing with some relationship stuff.)