Winter Reading for Online Faculty
The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz ( 138 pages)
Reviewed by Amy Sexton, Writing Center Tutor, Kaplan University Writing Center
Who should read this book? Ruiz deems his book “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom”, and while readers may not attain personal freedom from this little book, the four agreements are simple, easy- to- remember mantras that educators and others in helping careers may find especially helpful. Committing to the four agreements may also help those who have self-image issues or are struggling with relationships in their lives.
Summary: Drawing on the ancient knowledge and wisdom of the Toltec culture, Ruiz suggests that we should make the following four important agreements with ourselves in order to live our best lives:
Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions
Always do your best.
Ruiz posits that being impeccable with our word will help us avoid gossip, which he describes as toxic. Similarly, we can avoid others’ emotional poison by refusing to take anything personally. We all make assumptions about ourselves and others, and controlling them, Ruiz suggests, will keep us from having unrealistic expectations that can also result in emotional turmoil. Finally, if we strive to always do our best, then our best will always be enough.
Why I Picked This Book: I first read The Four Agreements around eight years ago, which was also when I began working in online education. Over the years, I have often remembered Ruiz’s advice to take nothing personally and found it helpful when dealing with miscommunication and other issues that sometimes occur in distance learning. Ruiz also provides examples in his book that instructors can relate to. For example, when explaining why gossip is toxic, he describes a current student who hears from a former student that the instructor of the course is horrible. The current student, if he or she believes the former one, will begin the course with a preconceived notion of the professor that may or may not be accurate but will still result in the student’s experience being altered.
Favorite quotes from the book: “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
“The world is very beautiful and very wonderful. Life can be very easy when love is your way of life. You can be loving all the time. This is your choice. You may not have a reason to love, but you can love because to love makes you happy. Love in action only produces happiness. Love will give you inner peace. It will change your perception of everything.”