Book Club- The 4 Agreements

messy thoughts

Emma is the editor & creator (and occasionally writer) for The Messy Heads. She enjoys yellow curry, print media, and singing to herself.

On the first Monday of every month, we are now going to have live book club discussions.

THIS DISCUSSION: The 4 Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

NEXT DISCUSSION: You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero

We kicked off on May 2 by discussing a book by Don Miguel Ruiz, The 4 Agreements. It is a 100 page book that is easy to read but difficult to digest. It is the type of thing that you could read in one day or take a year to really let the words sink in.

Thank you to everybody who tuned into this discussion! We had great comments and interaction and it was really fun to feel like we all got to sit down and have a conversation. Sorry the wifi was bad in some parts- we are working on the whole live streaming thing and will get it down for next time.

Yesterday, Haley, Cybelle and I brewed some pomegranate tea and got down to what this book meant to us and how we can interpret into our lives. I would recommend reading the book, taking some time to reflect on it, and then coming back to this post.

As the title suggests, the book is split up into four sections. The intro reveals how our code of ethics, belief system, and what we think is wrong and right was all handed down to us from our parents and society. We didn’t get to pick any of our rules, they were all given to us. Don Miguel Ruiz explains in quite plain language a concept that is a bit mind boggling: we don’t know who we truly are, and have blindly accepted a lot of things to be true which aren’t.

You can interpret this as what we define as beautiful, what we define as normal. What jobs we want to have and careers we seek out. What religion we believe in and how we dress, talk, and act. None of it was our choice.

I read the introduction twice and listened to it again on tape. I could reread it over and over and take something new from it each time. I even spent about ten minutes turning over just one sentence in my mind. The introduction is like that, how it means different things to you at different times and can reveal fallacies and prejudices you have in your life if you are open to seeing the truth in those moments you choose to pick up this book.

Ruiz then continues into the four agreements, which detail out four new affirmations we can accept into our lives to live authentically, freely, and with love. He explains why these four new agreements are important to adopt, and I won’t spend anytime explaining what he said. Instead, I talk about examples that we gave during our live discussion for how we can start integrating these agreements into our lives today. Sometimes it is hard when we pick up a book or learn something that shifts our entire universe to go and put it into action. These are some examples on how we can turn thought to words, words to actions, and actions into a lifestyle change.

1: ALWAYS BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

A way we can start to be impeccable with our word can just start with yourself. Every time you look in the mirror- pay attention to what you internally say about your appearance. Let’s say a negative thought like “wow my acne is so bad” arises. Pause, take a moment, and turn that thought over in your head. Where is it coming from? Probably because you see celebrities with perfect skin and acne commercials a couple times a day saying that you have a problem and you need to fix it or else you won’t be beautiful. Then you see that this thought is not your own, and you can turn it around. Saying something like, “I am beautiful at any stage of my physical and spiritual growth. I am appreciative of this moment and the journey I am on.” If you are saying to yourself, “I am not smart enough,” take a moment to stop and reflect. Why do you think this way? Because of grades, because of something dumb you did the other day, or because other people are telling you you aren’t smart? All of these things have nothing to do with you. Instead flip it around and say, “I am smart, intelligent. I know what I am doing and what I am talking about. I have a valid perspective and worthy voice.” As you start to turn the negative thoughts in your head into positive words, you will gain more impeccability with your word.

I think that after you take on yourself, the next toxic thing you need to remove from your life is gossip. When I was about 17, me and my sister were driving home from a dinner we were at with about 6 other girls. All the discussion was about was what other girls in our grade or the grade above us were doing wrong. In the car, we turned to each other and she confessed to me how awful she felt after participating in that. We agreed to not gossip anymore and it was such a big mental shift for me. When you speak negatively about someone else, you are really revealing your own prejudices for what you think is wrong or right, and in turn you are hurting yourself with these words. Ruiz talks a lot about gossip in the book so I’m sure you get it by now, but it is kind of hard to implement. Maybe you aren’t as lucky as I was and you don’t have a friend who you can make a pact with to stop gossiping, but you can do other things. You can switch the subject and talk about yourself, you can just stop participating, or if you are brave enough you can call people out on their gossip. I think that if you can figure out how to speak nicely about yourself and then stop speaking poorly about other people, impeccability with your word will come so easily.

Then you can move on to how you view strangers, your friends, your family, life, problems, and how you talk to yourself and to the rest of the world. That may sound far away now, but a simple act you can do today is look in the mirror and reflect on your negative thoughts, why you have them, and how you can start changing them.

2: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

This was my favorite agreement. I get comments on my blog and appearance and actions all the time, people saying how they didn’t like something I did or pointing out my mistakes and problems. But that is all them and a reflection of their mind, their life, and what they have seen and been through. It has nothing to do with me, so I have learned to brush it off.

This is just a personal, small example, but something we can all do is to realize that comments from outsiders cannot penetrate us unless we let them. Your teacher telling you that your essay is horrible or a friend telling you an outfit is bad has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them and their judgment. If you are following the fourth agreement (important) then you already know that you are doing your best and their words shouldn’t effect you.

This is for sure easier said than done, as negative words or opinions that have washed over us seem to stay stay with us much longer than positive ones. What I do is sit in my meditation and imagine those negative words as the ocean washing up on the shore over me. I let it come over, then pass, and recede. Never to touch me again. In this small exercise I am really able to let go of other people’s perceptions and focus on my own journey forward and all the love that I am surrounded by, that we are all surrounded by! You won’t get caught in the rip if you don’t go in the ocean- metaphorically speaking.

3: DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING

This one is such a huge factor in relationships. I can look into my past so clearly now and see that a lot of friendships or relationships struggled or ended because of assumptions made.

The easiest way to overcome this is obviously: communication. You can start letting friends know immediately when they do something that rubs you the wrong way. If you sit and stew, you start resenting them and thinking things like “how could they do this to me, hurt me this badly, they hate me.” While on the other side of things, your friend could be absolutely oblivious to what they have done or could be a complete misunderstanding. 90% of the time, your friends love you and have your best interest at heart (and if they don’t they aren’t your true friends). So put yourself out there and tell them what is bothering you. Also make sure you do the flip side, and tell them when you appreciate them, love them, or feel grateful to have them.

Something Haley and I do is check in on each other. We live together and are often working together and share all of our friends, so we are around each other a lot. In the live discussion we noted how we have good and bad days, and when one of us is in a funk, we just check in. Something as simple as “you good?” clears up the air and stops you both from making assumptions. Be open and honest with your communication and approach your conflicts with respect.

I know that personally I struggled with this a lot in the beginning, I get really nervous with confrontation and prefer to just stay silent. But then I learned it doesn’t have to be dramatic or confrontational at all. Something as simple as “Hey, I love you so much, but you did something this morning that kind of bothered me..” to lead into it will have everything cleared up in no time. Then you can use your mental energy towards positivity, creation, and love instead of dwelling on bad vibes from the past.

I also noted in the discussion how I see this a lot with friendships. Especially in LA, everybody you meet has a reputation attached to them. Chances are that when you encounter somebody, you have already seen their social media and heard several opinions about who they are, which really gets in the way of creating genuine friendships. You think you already know this person, you have already judged them in a sense. The truth is, social media is just a fragment of who they are, and it’s impossible to tell what a person will be like. So dropping that judgment you may carry when you meet someone new is another way we can all stop assuming and incorporate this third agreement into our life.

4: ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

Pretty self explanatory!!! Put all your effort in what you love and want to do, and then this reinforces the above three agreements. Ruiz does such a good job at explaining and noting that our best wavers depending on the day. This agreement to me just means being kind to yourself, acknowledging that if you aren’t where you want to be at today that you will get there someday. All that matters is that today you are doing your best.

xo,

Emma

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0 Comments

  1. I really love this. I’m really glad you guys are talking about these types of books instead of ones about vampires and werewolves or whatever (not that there’s anything wrong with those books). But if you’re looking for any more to possibly talk about I’d really recommend ‘Your Illustrated Guide to Being at One With the Universe’ or ‘There is No Right Way to Meditate’ both by Yumi Sakugawa. They’re both illustrated books that talk about meditation, letting go of negativity and also how to deal with depression and anxiety in a really sweet way.

  2. I came onto themessyheads right now because I’m feeling anxious, and reading this was just what I needed… thank you Emma, it’s crazy to see how far you’ve come and I can’t wait to see how you’re going to continue to create!!!!

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