Oh Dear, Holden’s Been Reading Non-Depressing Literature Again

thursdayHappy Thursday my dears! Lots to cover today, which makes me happy.

After a long heart to heart this week, Miguel loaned me The Four Agreements, a book about Toltec wisdom and “personal freedom”.

Please hold your gagging for a moment! When I first starting reading the little tome, I had that look of Oh Puh-lease on my face.

This was not helped by the awful awful typography chosen by the publisher. But once I got past my own preconceived assumptions about anything that looks or sounds New Age-y (Deepak Chopra has a blurb on the back cover forchrissakes), it quickly became clear that this book has some serious logical appeal.

Logic, I love logic!

The simplicity of the dogma (which is not associated with any particular religion, but works well with Buddhist principles) surprised me. It breaks down like this:

Agreement #1: Be impeccable with your word.

What I got from this was, more or less, think about what you say before you say it.

Seems like a no-duh, but one of the most important parts is rethinking what we say to ourselves.

Anyone else out there have a tape or two in their brain saying “You’re not perfect; you should feel guilty about x, y or z; that crappy thing your dad used to say about you is really true; you aren’t attractive; you aren’t worthy of this or that” ad infinitum?

And furthermore, what are you saying to and about other people? Gossip–trust me, I needed this reminder–pretty much makes you feel icky in the end. I have lots more to say about this, but since this is a gloss-cum-crib-notes post, we’ll move on to…

Agreement #2: Don’t take anything personally.

Whoa. For srsly? I mean, I’m not going to take what that drunken hobo slurred to me the other day on Muni personally, but don’t take anything personally? Not even praise?

Yeah. The Toltecs say no.

I think it’s mainly because if you take the praise of outside sources seriously, then it follows that you’re going to take their crap personally, too. And in the end, it really just does not matter what other people think.

I’ll admit to being a little foggy on this one…so we’ll leave it at that for now, and do some thinking about it in the meantime. On to…

Agreement #3: Don’t make assumptions.

So, at first this appeared to me as “keep an open mind”, and I’m all like, “Yeah, I do! I’m reading your New Age-y mystical magic book, aren’t I?” But then I also realized that Ruiz means that it’s OK to ask questions, that you should totally ask questions, and that you can also ask for what you want.

It’s pretty much about real, truthful communication. And yeah, he totally gives the example of the intimate relationship where one partner thinks the other partner is going to know what he wants, because she knows him so well. And then, POOF! You know how that story goes.

Agreement #4: Always do your best.

OK, first: SCARY!

How can I be expected to always do my best, or always do any one thing, for that matter?

But what’s really meant is that you ought to try for it…and try for it with regard to the circumstances. As in, what you can accomplish after a long, shitty workday at 11:00pm without having eaten dinner is going to be a lot different from your “best” at 10:00am on a new, glorious day.

So, it’s actually more about forgiveness of yourself than perfectionism. Which is something cool that I can get down with (even if it’s not easy).

Of course, what the book, and the agreements are really about is L-O-V-E. Particularly, the love we must have for ourselves, as individuals.

And if that’s not a cheeserific enough ending for you, I have two more things to say:

1. I totally LOVVVVE me.

2. I really love you, too.

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