Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Byron Katie
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Byron Katie ( became severely depressed while in her thirties. Over a ten-year period her depression deepened, and Katie spent almost two years seldom able to leave her bed, obsessing over suicide. Then one morning, from the depths of despair, she experienced a life-changing realization that her illness was based upon her perception. This epiphany flipped her life.

TIME magazine has profiled Katie, calling her “a visionary for the new millennium.” In March 2002, Harmony Books published Katie’s first book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, co-written with renowned author/translator Stephen Mitchell. Loving What Is has been translated into twenty languages. Her second book, I Need Your Love – Is That True?, was also a best-seller.

“I was depressed for more than a decade,” Katie confesses, “and if I look back on it, probably forty years. My self esteem was so low that I didn’t believe I even deserved a bed to sleep in. So I slept on the floor. One particular morning as I lay on the floor asleep, a cockroach crawled over my foot. I opened my eyes and in place of all that darkness, rage, and confusion I’d known was a joy that I can’t describe. What I suddenly understood was this: When I believe my thoughts I suffer, but when I question my thoughts I don’t suffer. I’ve come to see that this is true for every human being.

“In that moment I simply noticed the nature of my thoughts when I no longer believed them. That is a moment of truth – or a moment of clarity, as I call it. And I think we all have them. We all have these moments when we’re lucid. We begin to see that the whole world is created through our thoughts, and when we believe our thoughts we literally project them on our material world. Once we begin to question our stressful thoughts, we’re on the way to heaven – happiness, that is. Isn’t that what everything is for? We want health, balance, and happiness.”

Then why is there so much unhappiness in many people’s everyday experience? Katie suggests it has less do to with unhappy circumstances than habitual thought patterns. “Suffering is simply believing whatever we think. The mind is prone to think ‘life isn’t fair,’ and then not to question that assumption. It immediately begins to only see in tunnel vision, to only see and bring to mind all the proofs, pictures, thoughts, stories - all the evidence that supports the first assumption: Life is unfair. But by that point, you may not be seeing what’s real at all. I use the example of walking through the desert and you see a snake. You jump back, your heart is racing and you break out into a sweat before you look again and notice there is no snake, just an old rope. How could you have been so silly? Immediately, the fear subsides and the laughter starts. That’s an example of what questioning the mind does.

“For me, problems are no longer possible because I see through them. I invite people to understand that every snake is a rope, not just some of them. There’s no exception to that in my life, so I’m open to whatever happens next. For all I know all hell could break lose. I look forward to it.”

We asked Katie what the average person can do when confronted with their own “snakes.” Her process, which she calls The Work, is simple enough. “We need to question what we believe. There are four questions we can ask ourselves to investigate a stressful belief. When we think a thought, what should immediately arise along with that thought is the question Is it true? The second question is a more thorough version of that: Can I absolutely know that it’s true? The third question shows cause and effect: How do I react when I believe that thought? And the fourth question brings us back to our origin: Who would I be without that thought? And then I ask people to turn the thought around. For example, if ‘Life isn’t fair’ is the belief we’re questioning, then – turned around – the thought might be ‘Life is fair.’ The turnaround is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe and seeing that it is at least as true. You’ll find these four questions and the turnaround thought quite powerful in changing your perceptions.”

We asked if Katie still has to stop herself from thinking negative thoughts or remind herself to ask the four questions. “I don’t try to stop negative thoughts. I question my thoughts, but it usually happens so fast now that I can see right through them. It’s like meditation. I think a thought and what immediately arises with that is the question, ‘Is it true?’ The process has become more of an awareness or a realization than a conscious question. It’s about waking up to reality. If I happen to get stuck on something I just put the stressful thoughts on paper, and there they are. They’re stopped.

“We need to be present within each moment. It’s insane not to, because right here, right now is where we are. We suffer needlessly when we believe things that aren’t true or fail to live in the actual moment. Every life has some moments of genuine pain. I’m not saying that pain doesn’t hurt. When it hurts, it hurts, and that’s the reality that we’re in. But so much of our suffering is over pain that – if we let ourselves be conscious of it – is already in our past. Likewise, all of our fear is just anticipation of future pain… that may or may not actually happen. When we anticipate pain before it happens and dwell on it afterwards, we’re piling pain on top of pain.

“The other approach is opening our arms and our minds to what is. When we begin to see through the things that aren’t true, we’re always left in a kinder world. We’re filled with gratitude. We find ourselves in a moment of grace. We discover the beauty and the creativity of now. And in that space, amazing things occur. A mind that’s free to create can end wars. It can clean up the planet.

“I work with individual people. Over time, I get to see those lives become kinder, and I get to see the impact those people have on other people, and I realize just how far reaching this is. So is it bringing peace to the world? I would say, ‘Absolutely… one peaceful human being at a time.’ There’s no other place to begin.”


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

To read more about The Flip and additional interviews from other luminaries, experts and bestselling authors, please visit

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