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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is a popular self-help best-seller, in which the author guides the reader through the four most salient and life changing ideas or mantras rooted in Toltec traditions. Ruiz breaks the short book, which is 137 pages with large font, into eight chapters. These include each of the four agreements: Be Impeccable with Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best. His agreements are insightful and undoubtedly helpful anchors for people either seeking new information to improve their quality of life or readers seeking reminders of things they already know, which encourage following a healthy and enjoyable life path. The explanations for the agreements are insightful and worth considering for every person. We tend to think we are alone in our struggles, but the truth is we could all use some advice about how to think outside of ourselves and feel better. Instead of appreciating all the positive aspects of the book, readers may experience a disconnect between information and narrative flow. The author comes off as an uncertain and inexperienced writer.

It is easy to understand why this book is popular; Ruiz cultivates meaningful messages with his four agreements. Throughout the text Ruiz teaches reasons about how and why following the agreements can be essential to living a happy life. For example, when explaining why we should not take things personally, Ruiz rationalizes that we cause our own suffering, anger resentment, and misunderstanding by assuming that other people think or act because of us. “We are all living our own dream,” he says. He shows readers new ways to consider their perceptions of experiences, relationships, worldview, in the context his agreements. These four ideas, accompanied by short explanations, are provided on the front inside cover; which stand alone as a useful tools.

All the the contents of the book have been provided more concretely on the inside cover. Each chapter dedicated to one of the four agreements reviews the information given on the cover and adds some useful explanation; but, after the first few paragraphs of description, the chapters are wordy and repetitive. The concepts are interesting, yet they don’t flow together to create a cohesive whole, and readers are left feeling as though time is being wasted. The author is talking in circles. Readers have to sift through the fluff, but the pages discussing the agreements contain a wealth of wisdom, which can inspire readers to exchange old habits for new.

The book is not well-written and much of the information is repeated, yet there are a few really essential components to take away. I continued reading and finished, because my interest was piqued by the chapter titles and introductions. The book is so short that it took little time to finish; I read it in less than two hours. The author makes some really great suggestions about how to re-define the ways we think and act. So, although his ideas aren’t communicated perfectly, I felt it is well worth the time it took to read.

Stars: 3 out of 5