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“Loving What Is – Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” by Byron Katie

A Brief Book Review

This one is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, I regard “Loving What Is” as one of the most useful self-help books I’ve ever read. But, true confession – it took me over a decade to actually read it!

Published in 2002, I picked up this tome during a troubled time in my life because I’d heard it was good. I tried to read it, but the last thing I wanted was some guru who knew nothing about me or my life to telling me that I could actually love the horror show I was living through!

Years later, I was able to get past what I found to be an off-putting main title and focus on the explanatory descriptor, “four questions that can change your life.” I was in a place in my life where I felt like I was drowning in quicksand. I couldn’t imagine a life outside my misery and couldn’t see a way out. I felt like everyone and everything was plotting against me. A bit paranoid, perhaps? I needed a fresh, new perspective on life. I found this book gathering dust on my shelf and gave it another shot.

Byron Katie (yes, I know, shouldn’t it be Katie Byron?) has developed a simple method of perceiving life through a different lens – what she refers to as The Work. (Perception can be everything!) She developed four simple questions and an action that I find very helpful when I need to clear out the confounding and contrary voices and opinions of others in my head to see situations with greater clarity.


the four questions

  1. Is it true?

  2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?

  3. How do I react when I think this thought?

  4. Who would I be without the thought?


The action: And then turn it around

This sounds silly easy, doesn’t it? Well it’s simple, but not really all that easy. Takes practice, and I found turning the thought around to be especially challenging. The book gives many examples to help one facilitate the process and actually do The Work. I found this practice very useful once I got the hang of it. For example, it helped me to realize that while I might think I know what another person is thinking, I actually don't. I got into a lot of trouble thinking I could read people's minds!

That was years ago and today you don't even need a copy of the book to find out more about Byron Katie and her Work. You can visit to learn more and print out free worksheets. There are even resources for kids and teens. AND you can listen to the podcast At Home with Byron Katie. Perhaps you will find The Work as helpful and reassuring as I did – even if it took me a decade to really give it a try! If you’d like some support as you explore doing The Work, coaching can help.

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