Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

There Is Just One Thing To Do

--by Byron Katie (Mar 30, 2009)

When you become a lover of what is, there are no more decisions to make. In my life, I just wait and watch. I know that the decision will be made in its own time, so I let go of when, where, and how. I like to say I'm a woman with no future. When there are no decisions to make, there's no planned future. All my decisions are made for me, just as they are all made for you. When you mentally tell yourself the story that you have something to do with it, you're attaching to an underlying belief. […]

I would often return from a long trip to find the house full of dirty laundry, piles of mail on my desk, the dog dish crusted, the bathrooms a mess, and the sink piled high with dishes. The first time this happened, I heard a voice that said, "Do the dishes". It was like coming upon the burning bush, and the voice from the bush said, "Do the dishes." It didn't sound very spiritual to me, but just followed its directions. I would stand at the sink and just wash the next dish, or sit with the piles of bills and pay the one on top. Just one at a time. Nothing else was required. At the end of the day, everything would be done, and I didn't need to understand who or what did it.

When a thought appears, such as "Do the dishes" and you don't do them, notice how an internal war breaks out. It sounds like this, "I'll do them later. I should have done them by now. My roommate should have done them. It's not my turn. It's not fair. People will think less of me if I don't do them now." The stress and weariness you feel are really mental combat fatigue.

What I call "doing the dishes" is the practice of loving the task in front of you. Your inner voice guides you all day long to do simple things such as brush your teeth, drive to work, call you friend, or do the dishes. Even though it's just another story, it's a very short story, and when you follow the direction of the voice, that story ends. We are really alive when we live as simply as that -- open, waiting, trusting, and loving to do what appears in front of us now.

What we need to do unfolds before us, always -- doing the dishes, paying the bills, picking up the children's socks, brushing our teeth. We never receive more than we can handle, and there is always just one thing to do. Life never gets more difficult than that.

--Byron Katie, in 'Loving What Is'

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Previous Reflections:

On Mar 30, 2009 Ramesh M. Shani wrote:

So much simply true! I have been living life the same way. Doing what the call says for the moment, and leaving the rest for it's call.

On Mar 30, 2009 Doreen wrote:

This makes sense. I should really practice this method!

On Mar 31, 2009 ganoba wrote:

I call this doing nothing and then things happen.

The notion that "I" am the doer who makes things happen is the root cause of all trouble.Or the underlying notion that  i am the only responsible person around and the others are all good for nothing.


On Mar 31, 2009 Sophia wrote:

I like this, but at what point does "doing the dishes" turn into being taken advantage of?  This is something I struggle with- others get used to me always "doing the dishes" and then expect it. 

On Mar 31, 2009 Philip Doggett wrote:

Hi, my name is phil, and i would just like to say a few words about life through my eyes.I am forty three and  I have mental health problems for 20 years, and have been in a black hole more than once. After growing up with trauma and severe Personalty disorder, and depressive disorder, my life has seemed not woth living, and have knocked on heavens door many times. Low self asteem and severe times of depression, made my outlook on life not worth living. My memory is so bad now, that i cant remember what ive done the day before, or what day it is. this has impacted my life even more, and im on a section 117, in the community for the last five years. Six months ago, i had two hernina operations, afterwords my closest friend in my life who was there for me unconditnly, as i was for her, many times before, she  took care orf me during my  recovery. Six months ago, i found her after  takin her own life, and yet again my life was turned upside down. Until then i never felt  pain like it, or even thought about the affects it would have on the loved ones left behind.  My heart has been broken, but the loss of  my solemate, touched a part of me that now makes me think of how it would affect the people in my life, if i was not alive. I have started to accept my greif and pain, I only hope i can try and move on with my life, and remember the affects it has had on me, and her family. I hope it  will make me think differently at the low points of my existance. Phil

On Mar 31, 2009 sethi wrote:

Wise words. Listening to the inner voice helps me to avoid grief in my life. Thank you for sharing

On Apr 1, 2009 FJ wrote:


Thanks for sharing this story because it helps others.  Good luck to you, FJ.

On Apr 2, 2009 Kay wrote:

Phil..May you learn to rise above and just observe...The New Earth book talks about being addicted to "pain energy"  and that  through suffering we become enlightened...

On Apr 4, 2009 Reema wrote:


Please do not lose hope. God is there with you.


On Apr 5, 2009 muddu wrote:


Don't Loose Hope.Just Remember the night is always Darkest before the Dawn. Don't Get Depressed.If you still feel like your living is not worth ful..then live for others..Smile at people..Give a Hug to the One in Need..Do something good for others.Like dropping your neighbours kid at an Oldman cross the road..this things will just bring self satisfaction to you that for today i atleast lived for the others..

Hope my mail finds you in best of your health..

Now give me a smile and accept my Hug.



On Apr 29, 2009 A G wrote:

This was very inspiring. I think we should all think the way you think. That way, household arguments will never be a problem.

On May 7, 2009 Arti saxena wrote:

Its true that do all the goods you can & in all tha ways you can bec'z Life always gives you everything in return in two folds what you have put into it.

On Jun 30, 2018 Samsara wrote:

Namaste Sophia and I understand that very much.

(When I had a particular partner and, before I found sobriety, codependent recovery, and ultimately _The Work_ I was victimized in this way you ask about and feeling as if the world - for the sake of simplicity - had piled all the dishes on me *because* I would do it.)

What I ultimately learned was that to go against myself (ie, NOT do the dishes) in order to *teach* him (OR THE WORLD) to do *his fair share* was mentally exhausting, stressful, and self-initiated war-mongering.

After noticing that I had been going into his (or others') mental business of taking advantage of me, I ultimately returned to my business only and simply did the dishes because I noticed that, when I did, I lived within my mind at ease.

I also picked up his socks without further complaint (or 'lesson teaching') and took his dirty plates to the kitchen, and washed his clothes, and paid the bills, and took care of the cats and dog, and went to events by myself because he was too tired, and etc, etc, etc, ...

One day I was reading a book on recovery from codependency when a light went off in my head and it occurred to me I would have more time for my own life if I moved somewhere else and not invite him. It occurred to me that I would feel marvelously alone and only have to contend with my own mess which, I'd decided, was all I wanted to deal with. And I did. 

I'm not saying my actions should be yours or anyone else's. What I hope my comment can convey is that once my mind was at peace, that peace-loving thoughts & ideas arose and, again, I just followed their instructions.

PS. I did not stay 'marvelously alone' however. I did fall in love and partnered (10+ years now), with someone who is not unfamiliar with taking care of his own dishes. ;)

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