Have you ever read a book that transforms your ideas about life and helps you see things in a new way? I just finished reading Byron Katie’s newest book, A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are. Katie is the author of the bestselling book, Loving What Is. For the ten years prior to age 43, Katie was severely depressed. Suddenly one day she woke up and had the realization that her suffering was the result of arguing with reality. She understood that as long as we think that we know what should and shouldn’t happen that we will feel unhappy. It occurred to her that when our mind is closed, then our heart is also closed. She found that the best way to open our hearts is to simply open our minds. We can only do this by questioning our thinking.
Katie’s husband, Stephen Mitchell, is well-known for his translation of the Tao Te Ching. In her newest book, Katie discusses the excerpts that Stephen has chosen from this ancient text as a way to help us better understand essential issues that we all face. Though many believe that Katie is an enlightened being, she modestly says, “I’m just someone who knows the difference between what hurts and what doesn’t. I am someone who wants only what is.”
I find Katie’s approach to be brilliant in its simplicity. How many times have we felt hurt and upset, not by what actually happened to us, but by our thoughts about what happened? There is such joy and freedom in loving what is and believing it was what was supposed to happen. And from this place of love and no resistance, we are better able to find solutions and behave in ways that lead to joy and happiness. While reading Katie’s book, I found myself repeatedly amazed at how she was able to successfully and joyfully handle situations that most people would have found frightening or devastating. Her approach is actually quite empowering. As she points out, loving what is doesn’t mean that we become doormats. When she finds that someone is not honoring their commitments to her, then she finds herself mirroring their movements by moving away herself. However, she does not become upset by their actions. Instead, she trusts people to do what they will do.
Katie says that she feels joy all of the time and has in all the many years since learning to question her thinking and to love what is. I find her approach to life to be so liberating and hope that you, too, will find the peace and joy that is there for all of us.
Love & Light,