The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz audiobook review
I’m 50/50 on The Four Agreements. At first glance, the actual four agreements seem like great principles to instil into your life:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best
Pretty simple and most people would probably agree that these sound like a good idea. They make sense to me and having these as agreements with yourself will have a positive impact on your life. On that front, I like The Four Agreements but the actual content lets it down.
The Four Agreements Audiobook
In terms of format, this is a good audiobook. At 2hrs 31minutes it is easy to consume in one sitting and the chapters are clear so that you can jump back into specific parts very easily. I got my copy on sale so it only cost a few dollars on audible but even at full price, it is around $10 or less (or free with an audible trial). The highlight of having this on audiobook rather than paperback is the narration.
I really liked the narrator’s voice, it perfectly suits the material. There is a spiritual, wiseness to his tone that has depth. Peter delivers the words in an open and honest way. It doesn’t feel like you are being sold the ideas in the book, merely being told a story written a millennium ago.
Peter Coyote who you might recognise from films such as E.T, Patch Adams, and Erin Brockovich was an excellent choice. He has narrated a few of don Miguel Ruiz books as well as some mindfulness and meditation audiobooks which I think his voice is perfect for.
The Four Agreements Intro
Not many reviews of The Four Agreements mention the intro or talk too much about it. I found the intro quite weird. Firstly there are 5 minutes of Toltec history and the “Smoking Mirror” which I understood to be a diety story.
Then there are 25 minutes on “Domestication and the Dream of the Planet” which explain to you that we are domesticated as children through a reward system. Always listening to and agreeing with parents, teachers, religious leaders, hooking our attention to them without question. With the fear of being punished and the fear of not getting a reward, we start pretending to be what we are not, just to please others. We become what we are not because we are afraid of being rejected, afraid of not being good enough. Eventually, we become societies beliefs not our own.
“The reward feels good, and we keep doing what others want us to do in order to get the reward. With that fear of being punished and that fear of not getting the reward, we start pretending to be what we are not, just to please others, just to be good enough for someone else“
This intro is quite heavy. There is a lot to digest here. I found this Psychology article that discusses it further.
I don’t think the intro needed to be that long. It is probably all true but if it is we can’t do anything about it as children, we had no choice. There is no solution presented of how children now could avoid this or advice to parents on how to not let this happen to their children. Only that now, as adults we can break free.
The actual four agreements
After the intro, we get to the four agreements. Each is great but overwritten and could be condensed.
Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. This made me think of “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain and give honest and sincere appreciation.
You can notice an immediate difference when you stop yourself complaining and saying negative things to or about people.
Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally
This is an interesting one. There are some similarities with Stoic teachings, you can’t control what happens to you only how you react to them. Nothing others do is because of you. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
I think this is very true and you will start to spot it when you put this into practice.
Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions
Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. Another interesting one, we can get so caught up in our heads wondering what people meant by something or imagining all these scenarios that will never happen. By asking direct questions we can eliminate this fear and anxiety.
Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best
Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
The Toltec Path to Freedom
Don’t blame your parents or anyone who abused you but stop the abuse and be free from the role of the victim. Dig deep inside yourself and find that childlike freedom and joy. The real you is when you feel happy and are playing, these are the happiest moments of your life when the real you comes out.
The freedom we need is to be ourselves.
I can relate to this. I think back to everything I used to do as a child, all those creative hobbies and doing things purely for joy, in the moment, not for money, not for anyone else. We do lose this as we grow and trying to claim it back will surely lead to an increase in happiness.
This chapter was 33 minutes long and like the intro, I felt it was too long and overwritten. There is then another chapter on “The New Dream” and “Prayers” that feature some windpipes or something. At this point, I was a bit done with it.