The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Walk and The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans has met hundreds of thousands of people and heard many of their stories in his travels over the past two decades. Most of the people he meets are hungry for inspiration; they love his novels because his characters are also searching for meaning and understanding.
The Four Doors is Evans’s message to those who seek inspiration in their lives. It began as a talk he gave on the spur of the moment, and over the course of ten years, it has evolved into a message he has shared with successful business people, students, and even addicts and prisoners. It includes stories his readers have told him, stories about great achievers who overcame hardships, and stories about his own struggle growing up in a large family with financial difficulties and a suicidal mother, and about his diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome later in life. These inspiring stories are woven through his identification and careful explanation of the four doors to a more fulfilling life:
BELIEVE THERE’ S A REASON YOU WERE BORN
FREE YOURSELF FROM LIMITATION
MAGNIF Y YOUR LIFE
DEVELOP A LOVE-CENTERED MAP
Evans believes that we all want to know the meaning of our lives. In The Four Doors, he shows how even the most quiet life can be full of purpose and joy, if we choose to take that first step over the threshold.
This reading group guide forThe Four Doorsincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Bestselling novelist Richard Paul Evans’s characters search for meaning and understanding in their lives, encounter challenges and overcome adversity—and so has the author himself. What began as a spur-of-the-moment talk Evans once gave has evolved into a powerful message outlining the Four Doors to a more free and fulfilling life. In this powerful book, he guides readers across the threshold, offering concrete guidance and abundant inspiration along the way.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Richard Paul Evans outlines three foundational truths on which the Four Doors rest: self-will, spiritual evolution, and the possibility of change. Why are these truths integral to successfully implementing the Four Doors? Were you practicing them prior to reading this book? If not, have you since started to do so, and what have been the results?
2. How would you describe your “mental map” prior to reading The Four Doors? Evans acknowledges that it’s difficult to change our mental maps but that it’s possible to do so and even vital. Why is this necessary? How have you corrected and altered your own mental map? Has reading this book helped you correct or alter your mental map?
Door One: Believe There’s a Reason You Were Born
3. “How do I find my life mission?” is one of the questions Evans is most frequently asked (page 29). To do this he advises identifying your passion, listening to your internal voice, asking for Divine assistance, and believing in a life purpose. How would using these techniques, help you discover your life’s mission? Why is belief such a powerful tool for shaping our mental maps?
4. Evans has identified a common trait among world changers, all of whom had a highly developed sense of personal mission. Who or what in your life has helped inspire a sense of purpose, as Evans’s grandfather did for him? In turn, identify whether or not there is someone for whom you could do the same thing.
Door Two: Free Yourself from Limitation
5. The greatest impediment to personal freedom often “resides within our own heads,” says Evans (page 38). Of the three most common psychological cages (paradigm, victimhood, and fear), which one affects you the most? Why do you suppose that is? What insights have you gleaned from the book to help overcome your cage?
6. Why are the shackles of paradigm stronger than we tend to realize? Thinking about the different examples outlined in this section, such as “pot of crabs” behavior and negative self-talk, consider the ways in which the cage of paradigm is both an external and internal force and how these forces apply to you.
7. Evans cites this quote as one that every home in America should have hanging on its wall: “The success of our lives is more determined by our imagination than our circumstance” (page 49). Why is imagination one of the most powerful keys to escaping the cage of paradigm?
8. What is the difference between greatness and fame? Why does Evans make the distinction? How has our culture and the media influenced our ideas about greatness and fame? Who do you know who has a truly meaningful life?
9. A reporter assumed that because Evans is successful, rich, and famous he wouldn’t know anything about adversity (page 57). Why do you suppose someone would jump to this conclusion? How have the challenges Evans faced in his childhood and beyond, including Tourette’s syndrome, helped shape his life in a positive way? In what ways have you turned hardship into a learning experience?
10. “While victimhood is not always a choice, the mentality of victimhood, the reliance on past hurts or injustices to excuse oneself from current responsibility, is” (pages 56–57). Why is the cage of victimhood seductive for some people? Have you ever fallen into the victimhood trap? If so, how did you move past it?
11. Why does Evans believe that forgiveness is the antithesis of the victimhood mentality? He suggests trying an experiment: close your eyes and ask God who it is you need to forgive. If you took the next step—forgiving that person face to face, by phone or in writing, or declaring it aloud to the universe if that individual is no longer living—what difference would that make for you?
12. Self-forgiveness is another crucial step toward personal freedom. How successful have you been at banishing self-incriminating thoughts? What benefits have you derived from repeating the mantra Evans provides on page 78 or from creating your own ritual, as he suggests doing?
13. A lack of gratitude is one of the greatest indicators of someone who has embraced the victimhood mentality. To counter this, Evans suggests writing down what you are most grateful for. What did this exercise illuminate for you about your life and your own behavior?
14. What are the two sides of fear that Evans illustrates? How can one emotion be both “a blessing” and an “enslaving flaw in our mental maps” (page 82)? If fear is something that inhibits your personal freedom, can you identify ways to help you overcome it?
Door Three: Magnify Your Life
15. “Dreaming is the first step in magnifying our lives,” writes Evans (page 100). What did you learn from making a list of “what ifs” and evaluating them?
16. Hard work is a driving factor in personal success and so is a willingness to take risks. (“Life, by definition, is a risk,” page 103.) Outline what you would like to accomplish over the next year and how you will achieve it. What risks would you be willing to take to achieve your goals?
Door Four: Develop a Love-Centered Map
17. Why does Evans make the distinction that love is “not as much about desiring a person as it is to desire their well-being, their physical, mental, and spiritual growth” (page 127)? Do you share his view of love, or do you have a different definition?
18. Drawing on what you read in this chapter, how can you re-create your mental map on the basis of love, and why should you? How is this both an intellectual and a spiritual endeavor? Why is it important to develop love through service?
19. If you choose to adopt just one of the Four Doors, Evans advises making it this one. Why does he believe that to Develop a Love-Centered Map is the most important door? Do you agree? Why or why not?
20. What inspired you to read The Four Doors? What are your overall thoughts about the book? How has it led you to re-evaluate your life?
21. Of the people Evans highlights in the book, both well-known and nonfamous figures, whose story resonated with you the most and why? How did having the author share his own personal story impact your reading of The Four Doors?
Enhance Your Book Club
Pair your reading of The Four Doors with one of Richard Paul Evans’s novels, or with Return from Tomorrow by George G. Ritchie, a book that had a profound influence on Evans.
As a personal goal or a book club endeavor, take up Evans’s challenge that great things can happen in the spare moments of our lives. Reading ten pages a day for one year, tackle the books he lists on page 113.
“We develop love through service,” writes Evans in The Four Doors (page 135). Research volunteer opportunities in your area and lend a helping hand. Consider keeping it book-related by aiding a literacy group or your local library.
Visit www.richardpaulevans.com to learn more about the author and his books, as well as his charity, the Christmas Box House.
Richard Paul Evans is the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box. Each of his more than thirty novels has been a New York Times bestseller. There are more than thirty million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated into more than twenty-four languages. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Mothers Book Award, the Romantic Times Best Women’s Novel of the Year Award, the German Audience Gold Award for Romance, two Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Awards, the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Keri, and their five children. You can learn more about Richard on Facebook at Facebook.com/RPEFans, or visit his website, RichardPaulEvans.com.