There have been very few books which I could say have changed my life, but “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie is one of them. It is an unassuming looking book, but it packs a powerful punch between its pages.
And they can!
I don’t really recommend you first read this book when your life is going swimmingly well. But it’s a great book to grab fast and devour if bad things happen, for example
- your husband cheats on you
- you break up with the guy who you thought was “the one”
- you lose your job
- you fall out with a good friend
- some natural disaster strikes
- you fall into debt
- you or someone you love is ill
- you have a dilemma that is keeping you up at night
Once you understand how to use the questions in the book to change your thinking, you’ll see it can also work on lesser calamities such as your partner’s irritating little habits or rain on your vacation.
Anytime you feel this is not the way life should be, that you are fed up with the way things are, it can help.
Initially though, I suspect the worse the situation you are using it for, the more you will understand the power of it.
In my case, I came across the book when I was having a spectacularly bad time at work, feeling like the victim of poor senior management decision making.
Within a very short period of just a few months I went from loving my job to hating it with a vengeance. I decided the only way for me was to get out, and I was trying to find a way to negotiate a settlement so we could survive without me working. Meanwhile I went through weeks of anxiety and not sleeping. Fun times!
Reading and then applying the book to my situation helped me through that awful period. I was calmer. I could see a way out. I stopped hating so much and started understanding. And I slept better. I did get what I wanted eventually, but I didn’t have to wait for that moment to feel better.
What the book does for you is make you feel less like a victim and more like the powerful person you are in any situation including ones where you truly are a victim (for example, of a violent crime). It gives you clarity and a way forward when you don’t think you have any path out of the mess you are in.
You work through the four simple questions (and the subset of clarifying, prompting questions that come with them) and come out the other side with a new way of thinking about whatever it is that is bothering you and taking away joy from your life.
The book not only provides the questions (which would take no more than a page or two to lay out) but gives example after example of applying the questions in all kinds of situations, from the most trivial to the most horrific, so you know how to use them whatever is happening in your life.
“At some point, you may notice that you’re meeting every thought, feeling, person and situation as a friend. Until eventually you are looking for a problem. Until finally you notice you haven’t had one in years.”
I haven’t quite got to that point yet, but if I ever do have a problem, out comes that book to gain a bit of perspective on it. I find it not so much a book you read, as a book you apply over and over again.
Over to you: Have you come across “Loving What Is” already? If you have, what did you think of it? Please share in the comments below.