Original Book: Lynne Twist (2022): Living a committed life. Finding freedom and fulfillment in a purpose larger than yourself. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
The book at a glance. "Living a committed life - finding freedom and fulfillment in a purpose greater than yourself" is the latest book from bestselling author Lynne Twist. To be clear, if you are expecting a quick "self-help" step-by-step guide to finding your purpose in life, this book may not be the right choice. Instead, Lynne offers something much richer: the incredible, inspiring testimony of her own life spent over fifty years working to end world hunger, save the Amazon rainforest, change the dream of the modern world, transform people's relationship with money, and empower women to take their rightful place in what she calls the Sophia Century. Sharing openly and vulnerably how she discovered her purpose, how her commitment evolved into her various endeavors, and how she overcame doubts, struggles, and crises by respecting her limits, she offers us much more than a teachable guide - it's a heart-opening revelation and encouragement of what happens when we answer with a clear “yes” to a life trusting and following our inner voice, heart, and soul.
What were my three most inspiring insights?
1) Taking a stand versus
taking a position. I learned that taking a stand is different to
taking a position or fighting an opinion. Lynne reminds as that taking a
position is like taking a "geographical" point of view that
determines what we see, e.g. when we stand directly under the Eiffel Tower. To
fight for this point of view by proving all the others wrong (for example,
those standing 200 meters away from the Eiffel Tower) leads to endless debates
because each point of view has of course its own validity. In contrast, when we
take a stand, we release ourselves from any position. By literally stepping
"above", we can see how valid all points of view are and how true
they are for each person who holds them. Taking a stand means not being trapped
in one's own position or ideology and instead being able to let go of it.
Instead, we step into a space where we can listen to others rather than reject
them, create a shared view and vision, and allow all positions to contribute.
2) How “taking a stand”, “commitment”
and “purpose” relate. I love how she carefully frames the meaning of
these three words, which we mostly are using interchangeably. Taking a stand,
according to Lynn, is something that is uplifting and life-enhancing. We
usually take a stand for something rather than against something
and is usually something greater than we can do ourselves. For example, you
might be against air pollution, but what you are standing for is the
possibility that we can all live healthy human lives. A stand is not something
you necessarily get credit for, or that makes your own life more joyful and
fulfilling. It's something that's called for on the planet. To take a stand gives
rise to making a commitment. For Lynne, a commitment is not just about giving
your word and acting consistently with it. It's about embodying a 'yes' to
something with your whole being, i.e., what you spend your free time or money
on. And then, finally, it's the bundle of your commitments that result in the purpose
of your life. In other words, finding your purpose is not the beginning, but
rather the result of a committed life.
3) Why purposeful lives are possibilist
lives. This is the part where the book has common traits with
The Art of Possibility. Lynne reminds us that if we want to live a purposeful
life and keep our commitments, we need to know how to create possibilities. For
her, it's not just a set of options, it's a mindset. A possibilist is someone
who looks at this world through the lens of 'what can and could be' rather than
from only perceiving the status quo right now. It's not about ignoring reality,
nor is it about positive thinking. It is about acknowledging what is, but not
letting it paralyze or disempower us – instead, a possibilist can build on what
is and free us from our unexamined assumptions about what can and cannot
How does the content relate to today’s times?
The wisdom of the book is spot on for our modern
times, where many people are yearning to find meaning and purpose in their
lives. By looking over Lynne's shoulder as she shares her life story, we are
inspired, encouraged, and challenged to reflect on this longing in a deeper and
more nuanced way. I believe it's an important resource for anybody who strives
to live a purposeful life. It allows overcoming a widespread 'consumerist' motivation
to seek a purposeful life, simply hoping for providing us with more pleasure.
Instead, Lynne invites us to be mindful about getting beyond and uncovering our
deep-rooted heart-centered call to serve something greater than one's own life
How did the book change my thinking?
I loved her outlining that purpose is not
something outside of ourselves that we can grasp, but rather something inside
ourselves that needs to be found and unleashed. In that, the purpose is rather
a path, a flow, an energy that raises upon an inside commitment, an inside
“yes” to something larger than ourselves that emerges over time by living up to
these commitments. That sheds a slightly different light on the current purpose
discussion in organizations. Providing people with a compelling, well-sounding
purpose statement - like for a consumer good - might have limited effects. It
might be more beneficial to reverse the process: Enabling people to find
purpose together, inside themselves and while interacting to live up to their
What did I appreciate most reading?
Reading the book left me with a very hopeful and
uplifting feeling. Lynne is a true master of using words and narratives in a
very deliberate way that invites everyone in and embraces different
perspectives. For example, while she admits to being a very spiritual person,
she acknowledges that not everyone is spiritual, nor religious and makes it
clear that what she proposes can be approached from other worldviews, too. It’s
such a releasing and soothing contrast to our news world, where defending an
argument by bashing those who see the world differently is mainstream. In this
way, her book is using a language that does not divide but instead allows to
bridge different views in integrative ways. without compromising on taking a
stand and sharing what her truth is. That's the responsible use of a relational
language and narratives that we urgently need to move this world forward toward
social peace creating growing spaces of shared humanity.
My most inspiring quote
Wow, that wasn't easy! The book itself is a huge
reservoir of insightful quotes. I found them on practically every page. I chose
one that spoke to the overarching theme: “A commitment larger than your own
wants and needs lifts you out of the landscape of your own circumstances and
personal desires. It lifts you out of day-to-day moods, irritations , and
upsets about things not going your way. It pulls you out of that smallness and
elevates you to a place where you find the strength and courage to generation
your life out of possibility and generosity.”
What wisdom in this book will I use in my daily life?
The honoring and embracing language that allows,
and even invites different perspectives, to join in, and the definition of
purpose, commitment, vision and taking a stand. Above, her idea to think back
to our childhood to find our purpose, i.e. suggesting to ask ourselves what we
were passionate about as a child. For example, if you were drawn to helping
classmates who were in trouble, then taking a stand for social justice might fulfill
you. If it was art, music, or painting that lit your heart, you might want
every child to have access to that kind of education. Or if you were passionate
about outdoors activities in nature, you might be drawn to help preserve our
Who should read this book?
Everyone who feels called – or would wish to feel called – to live a committed life, longs for a meaningful purpose in life.