My business, your business, and God’s business.
I just finished Bryon Katie’s book “Loving What Is.” Honestly I’m a little surprised it took me this long to read it, since it’s been heavily recommended to me for years. (I actually bought it last summer but have such a long backlog of audible books, it took me until now to start it!)
If you’ve never heard of Byron Katie, she’s the creator of “The Work,” a super simple way to investigate your own thoughts, and find peace.
I loved the book, and the inquiry practice itself, and I look forward to trying out The Work with the help of a facilitator.
But there was one thing she repeated several times throughout the book that really stuck with me.
She makes the claim that there are only 3 kinds of business: mine, yours, and god’s.
(She encourages you to replace the word “god” with something else that works for you if you prefer, such as “reality” or “nature.”)
The idea here is that we each need to stay in our own business, because when we are in someone else’s business, we inevitably suffer.
For example, if you think your sister in law should be nicer to you, then you’re over there trying to run her business, instead of being in your own. Not only is changing your sister’s behavior utterly impossible, but when you’re over there in her business, there’s nobody runnings yours! The end result of this is that you’re poorly taken care of, victimized, and upset.
Another example would be thinking that your friend should dump his no-good boyfriend, or thinking your boss should run her department differently. These thoughts are all evidence that you are in someone else’s business. They don’t actually help change anything, like they’re intended to– after all, you can’t force anyone to see your point of view, or change their behaviors.
All that comes out of being in someone else’s business is that you suffer.
If you stayed truly planted in your own business however, you might do some mental investigating to figure out why you’re having these kinds of thoughts, and what’s going on with you that’s causing them.
Our mindset (and behaviors!) are where we can take empowered control over our experience, so if you’re committed to peace and happiness, you’ll inevitably need to explore your mindset.
The reason the concept of “business” has struck me so deeply is that what your body looks like is not your business.
Up until a point, things like diet and exercise and stress habits can affect the way your body looks and performs, yes. How you move and what you eat are your business– but the outcome of those behaviors is not.
Many of my clients tell me that they think their body should look different, given their habits. From now on, I will be telling them that how your body looks is none of your business.
The outcome of your behaviors is not your business.
The outcome of your body is not your business.
The outcome of anything is not your business.
That’s god’s business.
Just because you think you can run the show better than god/nature/reality, doesn’t mean she’s gonna listen. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that the only outcome you’ll experience with this line of thinking is stress and suffering.
When it comes to your body, you can take all the wonderfully empowered actions in the world– eating healthy, exercising, getting lots of sleep, and managing stress– and even still, your body might not look how you think you “should” look.
When you’re over there trying to run god’s business, you suffer on three levels:
You suffer the pain and frustration of failing, despite the fact that what you’re attempting to achieve is impossible.
You suffer the sense of existential unfairness that accompanies the (truly egocentric) idea that you know how to run god’s business better than god does, so why won’t god just do it the way you want?!
You suffer because while you’re over there in god’s business, nobody is here running yours. You are neglected, by the one person in charge of yourself.
The same thing applies to wanting other people to like you.
Who other people like is their business. Who other people find beautiful, or sexy, or valuable, or interesting– that’s their business. Trying to change that will lead to suffering.
You cannot make people like you, or approve of you, or even be nice to you. Attempting to do so will cause you to suffer the pain of failing, existential unfairness, and self-neglect.
People will reject you. Who they reject is their business.
People will be unkind to you. Who they are unkind to is their business.
People will not see how amazingly beautiful and worthy you are. That’s their business, too.
How you react to these things, though– that’s your business.
If you are genuinely interested in peace and happiness, you will stay firmly planted in your business, and stop trying to run god’s, or anyone else’s.
Focus on running your own, and watch your entire life shift.
So simple. So honest. So difficult to swallow.
Sending you so much love,
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