Books I love (an ongoing series) – Books by Don Miguel Ruiz

As part of writing this blog (and writing in general) I want to share the books that have helped me in some way (whether professionally, personally or some combination). I am a spiritual person deeply into science, history and astronomy. I guess you could say I’m sort of mentally a combination of Mulder and Scully of the X-Files: I want to believe something’s out there, but I firmly believe everything in the end has a formula that explains it. What we call “paranormal” or unidentified are phenomena ultimately that (if real) are so random and rare that we just haven’t been able to hold it under a microscope long enough to work it out.

In terms of living and loving in this crazy world (in particular in today’s dreadfully depressing economic times), it can be hard to love. Hard to know and love another person or persons let alone yourself. We’ve all been through rough times and broken hearts. We’ve all fallen into patterns with significant others, family or co-workers that aren’t in our best interests. Often if you stop and ask us we KNOW we’re doing the same thing again and just don’t know why.

During one of those periods in my life, I happened to take a part-time job at Border’s on weekends. Just wanted to be around books and people into books. Within a short time, a store visitor asked me if I had read “The Four Agreements.” I hadn’t heard of it and saw it was a small book and based on this person’s rampant enthusiasm I was intrigued. I was further intrigued when I read the biography of the author Don Miguel Ruiz. Part of me was concerned/skeptical because there is no shortage of “New Age/Self-Help” books with simple titles like “The Secret” or “The Key” or “The Secret Key”, etc.

But this guy and his book for some reason called to me. I read it one sitting. I’m not ruining his future sales by repeating the “Four Agreements” here (and to this day nearly 8 years later they remain front and center on my cubicle wall at work-never far from my vision/mind).

They are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

As I said I read this book in one sitting and I’ve re-read it several times. But more importantly, I have recommended this book to more people than any other book I’ve ever read. It’s not a gateway drug into a religion or cult. Just outlines four things we should all do in all aspects of our lives. Some are easier than others, but I’ve found that when I’ve consistently done them I’ve been the most productive and happy in any area of my life.

Soon I explored one of his other books “Mastery of Love” which takes the “Four Agreements” into relationships (whether familial or with a partner). That book really changed how I interact with everyone in my life from home to family to work. In a nutshell (greatly oversimplifying), you have to take control of the book of your life and be the one who writes its chapters. When we surrender to those patterns we all know so well and let others control/manipulate us we’re essentially handing them our life book and a pen. We’re giving them the power to dictate who we are and how we think.

This gets a lot deeper than I’m stating here, but it’s life-changing. One of the side effects of making all of these changes will be some conflict. People who are used to controlling you or directing how you live your life won’t be comfortable with your sudden changes and strength. That’s ok and you have to push forward. Those who can’t/won’t adapt and accept-well you need to really think about those connections and their worth to you. Some of them might be family members and obviously this may change long-standing relationships, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and you have to resist the urge to give in to “guilt trips” over your new “selfishness.” You aren’t being selfish when you take care of yourself and your life’s direction.

I think everyone should read both of these books-they are truly life-changing and will help you grow as a person and hopefully improve the interactions you have with others (and maybe who you have interactions with).

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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements
The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Mastery of Love
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