The Work 101

The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.

If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, “Meow.” Wanting reality to be different than it is is hopeless. You can spend the rest of your life trying to teach a cat to bark.

And yet, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that you think thoughts like this dozens of times a day. “People should be kinder.” “Children should be well-behaved.” “My neighbors should take better care of their lawn.” “The line at the grocery store should move faster.” “My husband (or wife) should agree with me.” “I should be thinner (or prettier or more successful).” These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is. If you think that this sounds depressing, you’re right. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.

People new to The Work often say to me, “But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I’ll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act.” I answer them with a question: “Can you really know that that’s true?” Which is more empowering? — “I wish I hadn’t lost my job” or “I lost my job; what can I do now?”

The Work reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean  that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle. No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen, how can it be helpful to mentally argue with them? We know better than to do that, yet we do it, because we don’t know how to stop.

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don’t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.

To learn more about the Work and how to live a fearless life, visit: The Work

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  1. I’ve found the work to be a profoundly helpful way of relieving stress and of bringing me back in touch with what’s “real”. It’s such a simple idea – that if we simply learn to love “what is” – we’ll be happy. Yet until now, there hasn’t been a widely available tool to help take us there. The Work provides us with that tool. Great stuff.

  2. Dear Byron:
    About two years ago, in Brazil, a friend gave me the small
    booklet about the Work. It was truly helpful. Unfortunately I have looked and looked for this in Bookstores and am unable to find it. True, it can be downloaded but it is such a handy
    little item to carry around, to give to others. Is there anywhere it is vailable in paper form?

  3. Dear Byron,

    I love the Work. It is really helping me to learn to ‘love what is’. People say,
    ‘the truth will set you free but it will make you miserable first.’ The fact is, using the four questions and the turnaround
    ‘the truth sets you free and shines a light on the joy that is possible.’

    I used to hear at 12 step meetings, “My mind is a bad neighborhood. I wouldn’t go there alone.” That was my mind. Using your books and tapes helps me to clean up the neighborhood, the projector.

    Three times in my life, I overdosed on pills trying to end the stressful thoughts. Last year, my sister overdosed and left this reality behind.

    Thanks to you, I have a wonderful, powerful tool that will hopefully help me and my family to be happier. I hope someday to get myself to the school for the Work.

    Thank you for what you do.

    Sincerely yours,


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