This isn’t so much a review as it is a life reminder for me regarding one of my favourite books that I read a few years ago. As we begin 2013 I wanted to take a moment to share this gem of a book because it offers insight and inspiration through 4 simple agreements. I have these 4 agreements posted on my wall now. They have guided me these last few years and may they continue to guide me in the years to come.
Don Miguel Ruiz lays down 4 simple agreements that while beautiful in their simplicity, are packed with meaning and empowerment. We all make silent agreements with ourselves that affect our day. Most of these agreements are lies we tell ourselves (too fat, too skinny, too ugly, no one loves me, I am powerless) and do us no good. So if we are making these negative agreements with ourselves on a daily basis, why not also throw in a few positive ones?
- 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. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
- Agreement 2 – Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
- Agreement 3 – Don’t make assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
- Agreement 4 – Always do your best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
The first one is the hardest for me. As a book lover, words hold weight in my world – along with power. And with great power comes great responsibility. If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I believe words should be chosen carefully. With one word you can imprison someone, or set them free. It is this reason that Agreement 1 is the most important to me – because I find it the most difficult to keep. (Especially in email or texts! Just fuhgeddaboudit.)
I had a friend learn that lesson recently having experienced a conversation that got out of hand through texting and not too long ago I deleted an anxiety-word-filled message that I was close to sending to a group chat happening online. Messy words spill out of our mouths at an alarming rate when we experience those knee jerk reactions. And then you look back and get embarrassed because you said some pretty stupid things that either got you in trouble or made you look like a sucky-baby (which is the type of personality I tend to resort to when my knees jerk).
“Don’t talk. Think.” Rick Grimes said in a long ago episode of The Walking Dead. (God, anything to mention dreamy Rick Grimes hey?)
But I couldn’t agree more. Too often we blurt out crap. We react, we snap, we let our emotions speak for us…I know 2013 will be a year for me to stop and think. Which I have a good hold on already being an introvert and all.
The best thing about these 4 Agreements? Not one of them works without the other. Remember one, and you remember them all.
May 2013 be a year of doing our best!
I’ve read all the ‘survival guides’ written for the introverted personality. The holiday survival guides, the info-graphic guides, the business guides – and I’ve noticed a theme. They all tend to portray introverts either as fragile beings, snobs or aliens from another planet. While I understand these so-called guides are created in fun and with good intentions, I can’t help but feel they still subtly support the stereotypes surrounding introverts. I can’t also help but feel that they are serving to create yet another divide between people, and I, as a proud introvert, just don’t roll that way. We all are just people after all.
So, I decided to do the only logical thing at this point – make my own.
I had another blog some time ago, it was mainly focused on philosophy and spiritualism and then I realized I knew nothing so I stopped blogging. I know books and I know how to read so keeping this book blog going makes waaaay more sense. I did find an old post of mine though that I think fits nicely here. A doodle of mine.
For some reason I am not too comfortable with admitting the following: I don’t often like books that are told in the first person.
When I read “me” or “I” as the narrative in the story I tend to put the book back on the shelf. There have been few stories that have used this point of view that have sucked me in on the first page. The obvious one that comes to mind is The Hunger Games (but the pace of that story was so fast that I could barely register the first person story point due to my heart pumping like a jack hammer).
I have a reason though.
When I read a story that is in the first person I feel that I am potentially missing parts of the story that could be told from other perspectives. I like to know what is going on. If I am at a party I want to know what is happening in all the other rooms. It is the 3rd person observer in me who likes to watch people. When a character is speaking from the first person I get irritated with that character. How do you know that John, whom you (as the first person character) are having an argument with, has become thoughtful following the hateful words you flung at him? What if he just had gas and needed a moment to ensure he didn’t fart in front of you? I realize this is extreme in my reasoning but I guess the bottom line is I don’t trust that I am getting all sides of the story. First person stories are, let’s face it, only about one side.
To me an enriching story is one that is fueled with hues, colours, different viewpoints, experiences and observations. The point of view of the observer is a role that I find most comfort in (as do most introverts) and the most interesting. I don’t just want one view point in the stories I read, I want them all. As the reader, I am omnipotent. So yes, that probably means that deep down I have trust issues coupled with probably needing to become more active in life and less of an observer. Maybe throw some control issues (God complex) into the mix. However, this post isn’t about me and the therapy we all know I need but rather, just another book snob confession. And this was a tough one for me; so tough that I didn’t even put it down on my Confessions of a Book Snob page.
Again, I realize I am potentially missing out on some amazing stories and I am never completely close minded to the first person points of view, I just have a harder time getting in to them.
Anyone else? I would welcome some arguments supporting them.
And yes, I realize I am right now, writing in the first person. But my life is not a book of fiction.
Or is it?
If you are someone who prefers one to one conversations, needs to be alone to reboot, appreciates advanced notice on family events, has to prepare mentally and emotionally when going out in big crowds, has a hard time vocalizing your inner thoughts AND hates talking in public – then you, my friend, are an introvert.
For too long you have felt bad about wanting to leave a party early (hell, you probably didn’t even want to go in the first place). For too long you have suffered in silence while complete strangers talk your ear off. For too long you’ve felt guilty about avoiding the phone so as not to engage in small talk. Well suffer no more! Susan Cain has your back (and so do all the other introverts in the world).
Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, I highly recommend reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
I picked up this book as soon as it came out and tore through it in no time. It was a soothing balm for me. Each page was recognition of myself. Each page allowed for peace and acceptance to wash over me. Susan Cain dispels the myths that introverts are shy, cold or selfish and does it all with a soft, quiet style that any introvert will appreciate. She has put the time and research in to show the world that the introverted person has a different genetic make-up than their extroverted counterparts. We literally have different brains. Through interviews and case studies of introverted and extroverted partnerships (whether they be marriages, friendships or parent and child) we see how different the two brains view and process the world.
I’ve known I was introverted for a long time but could never seem to convince others that I was (and gave up trying – too exhausting). “You?! But you love hanging out with people!” Yes, I do. I am not shy remember? But you don’t see the time it takes me to prepare myself mentally to go out and hang around people. You don’t see the few days following where I seek out solitude so I can gain that energy back. I love people but you see, as an introvert, being around people drains my energy.
This is where the world of books and reading has become part of my habit in rebooting. You know those weekends of family gatherings, friends’ birthday’s and work outings? Books help me to prepare, to get centered and then to rejuvenate. They always have. I don’t believe I know a single introvert who doesn’t love to read. We are not solitary creatures, we need another human in our lives just as much as the next person, we are simply people who appreciate and thrive in quiet. And what is more quiet than reading?
This is why I cannot express enough the value of this book. Even the title is soothing is it not? Please read this book. As an introvert you won’t feel alone, you will feel empowered, vindicated, and a calm wave of acceptance will wash over you. As an extrovert you will begin to see that introvert in your life with new eyes. You will appreciate the power of quiet and understand the need for that introvert in your life to be alone here and there (and you might even turn to solitude yourself once in awhile). This book though is more than just about understanding introverts; it is about accepting that no one person is the same as you, that we should never force our assumptions onto others. One other thing I want to mention – Susan Cain never discounts the extrovert – she simply supports the value of both personalities while commenting on society’s tendency to lean towards the extroverted. As an introverted woman who has a few extroverted friends and who is married to an extroverted man, these can be amazing partnerships.
Lastly, I love this book most because it challenges us to see each other as we really are and not who we want each other to be.
Here’s a special treat for all you introverts – Susan Cain’s Introvert Manifesto. (also on her website)