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Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  5,004 ratings  ·  339 reviews
Is it possible to live well when the very ground we stand on is shaky? Yes, says everyone's favorite Buddhist nun, it's even possible to live beautifully, compassionately, and happily on shaky ground—and the secret is: the ground is always shaky. Pema shows how using a traditional Buddhist practice called the Three Vows or Three Commitments is a way to relax into profound ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Shambhala (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  5,004 ratings  ·  339 reviews

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Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Look, it's impossible to not like Pema Chodron if you are someone who in interested in spiritual enlightenment. She is an American raised Buddhist who writes in the style anyone can understand and relate to. She's not overly "God" in her dialogue, and she's very down-to-earth. She's not out of touch with the realities of life.

This is NOT a self-help book. This is a self-AWARENESS book. It's about how to live with and accept the crap and the glory in life. It's how Buddhists make it through the
Joshunda Sanders
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it

"The Tibetan word for warrior, paw for a male warrior or pawmo for a female warrior, means “the one who cultivates bravery.” As warriors in training, we cultivate the courage and flexibility to live with uncertainty — with the shaky, tender feeling of anxiety, of nothing to hold on to — and to dedicate our lives to making ourselves available to every person, in every situation."

I have been a Pema Chodron fan for many years now. The Buddhist nun’s work has been critical to my on-sometimes, off-so
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautiful rendering of The Three Commitments written in a very accepting and peaceful tone that felt like a discussion with a kind, brilliant friend. Much to ponder if you are interested in and open to it.
I wish I could just memorize this book. Every time I read it, I get so much more from it. It's a guide for living and never more appropriate and useful than right now as the world seems to be exploding (at least here in NYC).

I feel that I "should" be reading other books but this is where I'm turning to and finding comfort.
Esra Bestel
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Such a beautifully written little book.

"When the appearances of this life dissolve
May I with ease and great happiness,
Let go of all attachments to this life,
As a son or daughter returning home."

Dzigar Kongtrül
Smitha Murthy
There is nothing that I can say that can match the beauty of this book. I have read quite a few of Pema's books by now, and this is by far, the most practical of those. Not that the others were impractical, but here Pema is vividly honest, interspersing her own life experiences with many practices that can make the task of living more joyful and utterly simple. ...more
Roxanna López
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
A few months ago, I went back to read “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change” by Pema Chödrön. Such a small book, such a long time to read. I bought this book last year in one of those book-shopping sprees that was no more than an attempt to make my time in Qatar bearable, it had stayed on the shelves for a while. Then it migrated to my night table together with another book of similar inclinations—books that proclaimed to rework the teachings of the Buddha for modern western audiences— ...more
Linda Hollingsworth
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Pema Chodron's books are full of wisdom, and I say this because I have read many of them and talked with others who have read them. This book is not only for our precarious lives today but for all times. She helps us understand that it is not the circumstances that threaten us but our reaction, our resistance to "the fundamental uncertainty of our situation" that causes our suffering. We need to let the truth of "how things really are" sink in by being fully present, feeling our hearts, and meet ...more
J Brandon Gibson
This book will end up changing my life, in a utility kind of way. I have read, and learned about several of the techniques Pema Chödrön suggests for dealing with the storm constantly beating down on us throughout life, but this time, with her book it means more.
This book will be meaningful to those that are seeking joy, amongst turbulence, but also open minded enough to see that their self made narrative, or adopted narrative will prevent them from moving forward.
I really hesitate to write these
Initial reaction: I thought this open approach to mindfulness and meditation was worth the read, but probably a bit redundant if you've read other works in Chodron's bibliography covering the same topic. Still, I appreciated her words and approach in one volume.

Full review:

I'll start this review by saying that I've always appreciated reading Pema Chödrön's inspiring expansions on approaching life and meditation practices. I've read a number of her narratives in the past, so it was with little wo
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
In which I realize that I am not yet a Buddhist and may never be one. Helpful insights abound in this book but I found myself being contrary as I read it, which I am pretty sure is not at all the point of Buddhism. I am still really attached to my emotions, even the ones I don't like, and while I loved learning that most emotions only last for 90 seconds before they pass unless we feed them, sometimes I want to feed my emotions.

Simultaneously while reading the book, my family is preparing for th
Jaclyn Day
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am exhausted of these books and the fact that I am so tired tells me that I probably need them all the more, that I am burning out because they are the right thing, that I am unwilling to internalize them because they are so potent. The point of this book—and others like it—is that resistance is futile, that to be whole, we must lean into the dogs that chase us in the night, that we must accept the hard things, the angry things; we must meet darkness in full, move within it and then, perhaps, ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiration
There is much to ponder and integrate in this little book. The three main themes are to committing to not cause harm, committing to take care of one another and committing to embrace the world just as it is. It's written in the context of living with uncertainty and change and this would be a good book to go to when our lives hit those bumps in the road. ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
breaking down the path into the 3 commitments:

1) commitment of non-harm
2) for the benefit of others
3) by communicating with the present as it arises

concise, eloquent, inspiring, loving. like spending time with a beloved, wise friend.
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is more focused perhaps than her other works. She is able to impart her wisdom of some similar concepts in completely new ways so that no book seems duplicative to me. Still she promotes tonglen practice more than meitri which always surprises me.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and comforting book for pretty much anybody. Chodron reminds us to stay present and be open; don't cling to your preconceived notions of anything. Breathe in suffering and pain, and out comfort and joy. Uncertainty is a welcome teacher. #bookworm #bookstagram #livingbeautifully ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-the-bookshelf
Wow wow wow. I can not recommend this book highly enough. Favorite recommendation: if you’re entering into an emotionally challenging situation, be present, feel your heart, and engage in the next moment without agenda. I will definitely reread this one!
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Buddhist Pema Chödrön offers inspiring, down-to-earth advice for those of any or no religion on dealing constructively with the human condition. The book centers on three traditional Buddhist vows – to do no harm, to do good, and to see the world as it is – which aren’t about being moral but “about opening ourselves to a vaster perspective and changing at the core.” To make this change we need to be honest and kind with ourselves while confronting our mental and emotional habits: “Buddhism holds ...more
Tanya McGinnity
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Book Review: Pema Chodron’s “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change”

Pema Chödrön is my go to for books that both kick me in the rump and provide that warmbelly feeling after eating a nice bowl of soup on a cold winter day. How can it feel both good and bad at the same time? How can it be like medicine that burns going down but yet helps to soothe? Well that’s just Pema’s teachings. They’re like that.

Based on a series of talks delivered at Gampo Abbey in 2009 during a winter retreat, the
K.M. Johnson-Weider
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book, presenting the three levels of Buddhist vows (in the Tibetan tradition called the Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva, and Samaya Vows) in the form of three commitments that correspond to three components of spiritual training and growth. Pema Chodron always seems very understanding of the problems we are facing, while also being relentlessly insistent that we can do this spiritual warrior training, no matter where we are starting from or what we are grappling with. Thus her teachings se ...more
Paula Cappa
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is about building inner strength, emotionally and mentally. Choosing to be brave! Chodron explains about taking a fresh look at your belief system that causes pain and suffering and going through the process of releasing and finding your true self. Chodron says that we all cling to fixed ideas and our fixed identity and therein lies the problem. Unmask, let go, open the mind and heart. Be totally honest. She uses a metaphor of a rapidly moving river as life. We are clinging to the shore, af ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fav
A really great book that found me at a really opportune time. As a person who deals with fear by bracing myself and rushing through, the practices described are challenging and I believe will help me in the long run.

I borrowed this from the library and I think I will re-read to enjoy it all over again.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some really great ideas, and a smattering of practical advice. But lots of advice like "Sit with your emotions" - without a whole lot of explanation of what that really means. ...more
Margot Note
"How can we make friends with unpredictability and uncertainty--and embrace them as vehicles to transform our lives?" (3-4).

"Looking deeper, we could say that the real cause of suffering is not being able to tolerate uncertainty--and thinking that it's perfectly sane, perfectly normal, to deny the fundamental groundlessness of being human" (8).

"Acknowledge the feeling, give it your full compassionate, even welcoming attention, and even if it's only for a few seconds, drop the story line about t
Pradeep Gunda

Despite being a short one , this has been a strenuous read, demanding complete attention while reading, as a poetic justice to the content it presents! I read this one after many other spiritual but this one still managed to present a different perspective about being completely present and live to the fullest! Pema nicely explains the basic human tendency to label things as an escape from feeling the complete uncertainty of life. Some powerful lines I liked from the book below...

Whatever is see
ياسمين خليفة
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pema Chodron is my favorite spiritual teacher.
Whenever I feel sad or depressed I always go to her teachings or listen to her audio books.
She is always wise,funny and down to earth.
In this book she talks about how to embrace life as it is, how to embrace groundless and restless and how to refrain from bad habits that make our life worse.
She talks about three commitments that we need to make in order to have better life.
This is not about chasing happiness or temporary pleasures but it is rath
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to categorize because I think whether you like it or not will be where you are in your life and whether you are ready for it.

I think I was ready. I enjoyed this book over a series of days. I could only read a bit at a time and then needed to digest. That being said, I think to get full beauty from this book, I am going to need to read it again. (I am not so good at that re-reading part...)

I definitely like the book's philosophy and do recommend.

Thanks to Cindy / Isaac for ha
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading Pema’s words is a great comfort, like talking with an old friend.

Through all the suffering and uncertainty we face on a day-to-day basis, compassion for ourselves and others is the key to living a beautiful life.

I believe this is the all-encompassing message of the book. I love how Pema emphasizes the fact that we are constantly in a transitory state. We start wherever we are right now and go from there on our path to awakening. Forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes. Seek to do
Narmeen Kapadia
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I highlighted the hell of this book because it was overloaded with JUST THE MOST INCREDIBLE WISDOM OF ALL TIME.

I hope to find a book that compiles all of this wisdom so that I can incorporate the teachings into a daily or weekly routine. Even though I may consciously forget what I’ve read, I also hope it remains deep within me forever and that my subconscious gets to work so I learn how to fully live in times of uncertainty and embrace the groundlessness and fluidity that is being human.

Trust me
Andrea Laurion
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hi, I'm a control freak, who probably needs to reread this book on a weekly basis. ...more
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Ani Pema Chödrön (Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) is an American Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, closely associated with the Kagyu school and the Shambhala lineage.

She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three g

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47 likes · 12 comments
“When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into it’s dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment” 84 likes
“We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can't relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased.” 50 likes
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