My husband Jim loves football and is a huge Patriots and Tom Brady fan. In the twenty years we have been together, I don’t think he has ever missed watching a game. This week, my husband picked up an audio book by Don Miguel Ruiz, called The Four Agreements, inspired by reading an interview featuring Tom Brady.
During the interview, Tom Brady was asked how he dealt with the stress of his life over the past several months. Brady’s response, the book The Four Agreements. Brady first read the book several years ago and reportedly re-reads it annually for a spiritual reboot and centering. So within minutes of hearing this, my husband downloaded the audio book.
For ten years, my bookcase has housed The Four Agreements. I’ve read it multiple times and throughout the years encouraged my husband read the book. He never took my advice. I chuckled when he told me about his audio purchase. It takes Tom Brady to inspire you to read a book I’ve been recommending for years? Really??!!! It’s ok, I get it, sometimes inspiration comes when you most need the information. So thank you, Tom Brady, for inspiring my husband to read The Four Agreements. I’m happy he is reading it, finding meaning and value; however it came to him.
If you haven’t read The Four Agreements, I encourage you to do so. It’s an easy yet powerful read. A small book packed with information one could easily read through in an afternoon. But in doing so, you could miss the valuable personal insights that come from reading a chapter at a time and letting it settle for a few days.
The Four Agreements is a spiritual book encouraging readers to be kind to oneself and others. The book is not religious. Instead, readers are encouraged to see the spiritual connection of how we all impact and connect to one another, starting with the energy within ourselves and how we radiate that energy into the world.
The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
4. Always Do Your Best.
In The Four Agreements, author Ruiz goes into depth describing each agreement with helpful examples to help readers shift from simply knowing the agreements and putting the agreements into daily behavioral practices.
I love this book because it’s spiritual spin on cognitive-behavioral techniques and theory (CBT). Simply put, CBT emphasizes the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors and making adjustments, from unhealthy ways of coping and interacting with oneself and others, to healthy ways of functioning.
The first agreement, Be Impeccable with Your Word, is all about the behavioral concept of consequences. Every action has a reaction, and every behavior has a consequence. Including our thoughts. Research has shown our thoughts impact and influence our feelings and behaviors. Ruiz brings a depth to this agreement, helping readers understand it’s not simply what we say to others; it’s also what we say to ourselves.
The second agreement, Don’t Take Anything Personally, can be challenging for people. Many people take other people’s behavior personally. I’m sure you’ve seen it in your day-to-day life. Take this example: You are at a sporting event for your child, and an acquaintance walks by and doesn’t acknowledge you but talks to another mom watching the game. Even though you felt there was close enough space for a greeting, you feel slighted and think this person is rude, aloof or doesn’t like you. However, what if this person prior to seeing you just received information about the failing health of a relative. Would this knowledge change your reaction? Chances are, it would change your reaction.
My next favorite agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions. A hallmark concept in CBT is Cognitive Distortions. A cognitive distortion is when a person has thoughts or beliefs about someone, something or a situation that are inaccurate; in other words a thinking error. One example of a CBT thinking error is Jumping to Conclusions, which is quite synonymous with the agreement, Don’t Make Assumptions. What I love about both concepts, is that it’s impossible to know with certainty what someone is thinking, feeling or concerned about unless you ask them.
And finally, the fourth agreement, Always Do You Best, has little to do with CBT and is more of a guiding principle for life. Moms, dads, extended family, friends, teachers, and coaches are hopefully trying their best, as well as encouraging the children in their life, always to do their best.
Thank you again, Tom Brady, for inspiring my husband to read The Four Agreements. And through inspiring him, you inspired me, to write and share this post and re-read The Four Agreements.
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2015