Schmaltz. Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements spent weeks on the best-seller lists.
I am not generally one for self-help books, but I thought this one was particularly bad, and it's wildly popular. Using "ancient Toltec wisdom" Ruiz is going to tell us all how to be happy, or at least how to be content.
The following is from the review I wrote in 2009:
Ruiz has come up with four principles from ancient Toltec wisdom. If one adopts these four agreements, Ruiz argues, they will help bring a sense of peace and happiness to one's life. Generally the agreements sound reasonable enough: don't take things personally, say only good things about others, etc. So far, so good. But there's some serious theoretical problems that underlie Ruiz's plan. Ruiz seems to suggest that the self can determine the majority of one's experience outside of social context. He claims that society is composed of collective dreams. Even recognizing that Ruiz is infusing dreams with more importance than western culture generally does, it still strikes me that the message here is that if one has fortified one's spirit with these four principles, nothing anyone else says or does can strongly affect you. Maybe I'm too close-minded, but I just can't buy it. We all live in social and cultural worlds, and those worlds do shape our experience, whether we like it or not.
Oversimplification. It speaks to my problems with self-help books generally, but I thought this one was particularly egregious.
At the end of the day, I kind of like being a miseryguts.