The Four Agreements

What are you reading?

“It’s a book called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz. At first, I didn’t really get it. The introduction is sort of crazy — about how we’re in a space between stars and mirrors, and all kinds of weird stuff. Then I read the first chapter; it says we’re pretty much our own worst enemies. We judge ourselves and punish ourselves more than any other animal. Say you get a parking ticket. You punish yourself twice — you don’t want to get the ticket again, and so you continuously think about it. Then, when you go over your finances, you think, I had to pay for that ticket. You punish yourself a second time.”

What do you make of the argument?

“Well, it’s like a suspense TV show because it doesn’t tell you what the Four Agreements are right away. It just tells you that we punish ourselves, that we are living in hell, that we all grew up being taught morals that we didn’t want to be taught, but we had no say in it — our parents just taught us. Now we’re stuck with these things, and 95 percent of what is in our minds is wrong. Everybody’s parents teach them different morals and values, so who’s to say? I think that later on, it’s going to teach you how to break cycles and bad habits.”

Compare it with other books you’ve read.

“Among other self-help books, I’ve read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and I’ve read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In The Secret, they throw all these things at you in the beginning: ‘You’re going to learn about this, and you’re going to learn about that, how to do this and how to do that.’ The Four Agreements slows everything down and tells you, ‘This is what we think.’ It gets into your head and makes you think a lot.”

What book has been the most life-changing for you?

“I’d probably say The Secret. It’s a good book because it talks about positive energy, and it tells you how to transform negative energy into positive energy. It’s all about what you think in your mind. Instead of saying something negative, say something positive. Instead of getting frustrated, say, ‘That’s just what I wanted. My friends will laugh, and it will just be funny, and I’ll be over it.’ It teaches you to break the cycles of your life. Instead of asking, ‘Why do I get stuck with the same kind of guy?’ date someone you would not normally date.”

Who are your favorite authors?

“I would say Napoleon Hill. He does a lot of self-help books, too. Most self-help books are just guidelines: do this, do that. But he tells stories from his own personal experience: ‘I did this, and this is what happened. So I went back and did this to change things, and that’s why this was the outcome.’”

What magazines or newspapers do you read?

“Well, I am a girl, so I do read Seventeen, and if I’m at the grocery store, I read the gossip columns, see what’s new with Britney.”

How many articles do you read to the end?

“If I’m really interested, or if I’m really bored, I’ll read the whole thing to the end. If I’m at the grocery store, I’ll skim through.”

Do you talk to your friends about reading?

“Yeah. My girlfriend is reading this book about who you are in your family — the breadwinner, etcetera. She was telling me that in every family, there’s always what you call a murderer — someone who flames everyone else, tries to feel superior to everyone else. I’m kind of interested in it, so she says I can read it when she’s done with it.”

Name: Victoria Martin | Age: 21 | Occupation: Bartender
Neighborhood: College Area | Where interviewed: City College

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