Stuff I'm Reading

Here's what I'm reading these days.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Training Yourself: The 21st Century Credential by Charles D. Hayes
The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism by James Geary
What Are You Optimistic About?: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better edited by John Brockman
The Five Things We Cannot Change… and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them by JDavid Richo

The Four Agreements
By Don Miguel Ruiz
Published by Amber-Allen Publishing

This book was recommended to me by some good friends (thank you David, Shawn and Gene). I’m glad they did. It’s a quick read I completed in an afternoon and its brevity and conciseness is part of its charm.

In essence, Ruiz’ message, based on ancient Toltec wisdom, is that we’ve all made agreements to believe certain things, most of those beliefs based on falsehoods. The process of indoctrination into these belief systems Ruiz refers to as our domestication, and that terminology is apt. Through our domestication, foisted upon us by society, family, friends, religion and other sources, we end up living lives contrary to who we really are. Ruiz emphasizes the need for every human being to live their lives in congruence to who they truly are, not who they pretend to be in order to please internal and external judgments.

The four agreements Ruiz offers, if adhered to and assimilated into our daily lives, allow us to push past unhealthy and dysfunctional agreements we’ve made and form new agreements that foster us living lives as we truly are. Only by being who we really are, living the lives we want to live, can we do honor to ourselves, God, or whatever energies in this life we personally feel deserve honor.

The four agreement are:

• Be impeccable with your word.
• Don’t take anything personally.
• Don’t make assumptions.
• Always do your best.

I won’t go into deep explanations of what each of these agreements means. Rather, I strongly advise you to pick up this delightful volume and read Ruiz’ explanations for yourself. You won’t be sorry.

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Training Yourself: The 21st Century Credential
By Charles D. Hayes
Published by Autodidactic Press

This tiny book is deceiving. When you first hold it you wonder if much wisdom can be contained in such a small volume. It can. I read this short work in a single session. The writing is to the point with a lot of good information and advice scattered throughout.

The essence of the book’s message is that education (learning) is something you “take” rather than “receive.” Rather than viewing education as a passive exercise of being taught as the only practical method of learning, education is viewed as an active undertaking. Along with fostering this refereshing approach to education, the author emphasizes the importance of self-education in maintaining excellence and competitiveness in the modern workplace.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can benefit from the information and advice in this book. Buy a bunch and give them to friends as gifts. I gave my entire corporate staff each a copy as a gift.

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The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism
By James Geary
Published by Bloomsbury USA

Quotes and aphorisms have always fascinated me. There’s something compelling about short, concise wisdom that packs a punch that longer prose might not. For those people like me who worship these forms of writing, I urge you to read this book.

James Geary’s book is a masterpiece. It chronicles and expounds upon notable aphorisms from the ancient wisdom of Lao-Tzu and Buddha to the more contemporary Barbara Kruger. Along the way you learn a bit of history, biographical backgrounds and chunks of hearty information that satisfies in a way few books do.

This book has become a member of my own personal top 10 list. I highly recommend it.

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What Are You Optimistic About?: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better
Edited by John Brockman
Published by HarperCollins Publishers

Anyone who reads, listens to, or watches mainstream news and media undoubtedly gets the impression that the state of mankind is in rapid decline and we’re all heading towards utter destruction and misery. Maybe some of this is true, but it’s nice to hear some good news for a change. And this book gives us good news put forth by some of the world’s leading thinkers and visionaries.

John Brockman, Publisher and Editor of Edge, has organized a collection of wise and informed answers to the question he posed to various notable contributors. That question was:

As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks for ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.

What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!

Read this book and prepare to feel a bit better about mankind’s fate and the future of life on this planet. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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The Five Things We Cannot Change… and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them
By JDavid Richo
Published by Shambhala Publications, Inc.

On some level we all already know the five things we cannot change that author Richo adeptly discusses in detail in this excellent book. The five things are:

  1. Everything changes and ends.
  2. Things do not always go according to plan.
  3. Life is not always fair.
  4. Pain is part of life.
  5. People are not loving and loyal all the time.

Yes, we all know these things, at least we should. But it often takes an eloquent voice like Richo’s to frame these intuitively known bits of wisdom within the context of our lives, allowing us to apply this wisdom properly to our daily lives.

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Copyright © 2009 Race Bannon