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Four-Word Self-Help: Simple Wisdom For Complex Lives Hardcover – September 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for LIFE IS A VERB:
"Damn, girl. You write good." -Lee Hancock, Dallas Morning News
"I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I adore Patti Digh’s book Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally. I love her writing, her depth, her sizzle. This is a book that makes me sing with life and the possibilities we all have for transformation and awareness. It is the best antidote I’ve got these days for the pain and fear raging around us--that and loving hugs, long naps, frevent prayer and letting myself feel whatever I’m feeling."
--Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman's Comfort Book

"Life is a Verb is brilliantly-crafted, raw, gorgeously-designed, and daringly different from 'self-help' books. It relates, through stories that sparkle and astonish and soar, how to move, to be on your way, to realize who you really are through your actions. Through exercises that you participate in, as if in conversation with the author, you will learn, as she promises in the prologue, 'deeper things―how to know what to care about, how to treat others around you (and yourself), what to question, how to love, what to stand up for, and why you should tell stories and listen to the stories of others.' There is no more important learning.

So read it. Inhabit it. Breathe in every word, because every word of this book is essential. Let it animate you. Annotate it to make it your own. And then let it let you change yourself, and become who you were intended to be. Begin now. You have no time to lose."
--- Dave Pollard, author of The Natural Entrepreneur, and the weblog How to Save the World

"Patti’s guide for the last 37 days of life will turn every one of your next 3700 days a fully lived experience. If you had some unsolved fear for death, that would be your season ticket to have a free ride on the train with the author. I have never seen such a simultaneously practical, esthetic and soul-caressing book in my life."

--Kichiro Hayashi, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo

"I laughed. I cried. I want the t-shirt! Seriously, Life is a Verb may well be the single book that will change the world or maybe only your life . . . Artful, funny, heart-breaking, Digh reminds us that today isn't a dress rehearsal and we can start today celebrating the magic of ordinary life. Reading Life is a Verb is like mainlining goodness. Digh shows us what is real and what matters, and she gives us insiders tips on how to make minuscule life corrections that result in quantum shifts in experience. She reminds us that life can easily be fun. This will surely be the last self-help book you will ever need or want to read."
--Patricia Ryan Madson, Stanford Emerita, author of Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up

"Life Is A Verb is a wonderful treat! Good exercises, stories, and examples. Reading it will help you appreciate just how much can be gained through living with intention. It's also a lot of fun."
--Roger von Oech, author of A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

From the Back Cover

Is life really all that complicated? Do we need seminars, self-help books, more therapy? What if we could solve all our problems with just four simple words?

Four-Word Self-Help is a pithy nod to the fact that life is simpler than we try to make it. Author Patti Digh gives truisms for most of our woes in four well-chosen words, taking the issues of our busy, burdened days and proving that rather than “solving” a complexity with another complexity, the answer may well lie in simple actions.  

Twelve hot-button “issues” are addressed: Community, Love, Stress, Travel, Soul, Wellness, Success, Green, Activism, Children, Generosity, and Endings. Each concise nugget of advice, 101 in all, has been illustrated with sumptuous original art from around the world by readers of the author’s blog,

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Skirt!; First Edition edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599219808
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599219806
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 4.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"If the Buddha had two kids, a dog named Blue, a Southern accent, and a huge crush on Johnny Depp, his name would be Patti Digh," wrote one reviewer after Digh's grassroots bestseller, Life Is a Verb, was published. In 2003, Patti Digh's stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just 37 days later. She woke up on day 38 and asked herself a question that she has asked every morning since: "What would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?"

Patti's award-winning blog,, emerged from the lessons she learned by asking that question and soon the essays were crafted into the bestselling book LIFE IS A VERB: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally. Patti has since written FOUR-WORD SELF-HELP: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives, CREATIVE IS A VERB: If You're Alive, You're Creative, and WHAT I WISH FOR YOU: Simple Wisdom for a Happy Life.

Her new book, The GEOGRAPHY OF LOSS, is due out from Globe Pequot Press in Summer 2013. In the tradition of her other releases, Geography of Loss will also be beautifully illustrated by readers. This unique book will serve as a guide to help readers Embrace What Is, Honor What Was and Love What Will Be.

In addition to her writing, Patti is a co-founder of an international consulting firm focused on re-imagining K-12 education. Patti is also a sought after Keynote speaker. Audiences come away from her speeches both laughing and crying, and with a clearer sense of what's important in their own lives.

Patti and her family live (intentionally) in the serene mountain town of Asheville, NC.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By O. Merce Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received my book today and read it tonight, eager to enjoy this latest gem from Patti Digh, author of the wonderful blog It is filled with wise sayings of only four words each, reflecting her attempts to simplify her life, to distill her life to its precious essence. Some of my favorite four-word sayings from the book are: "Create your own tribe", "Let yourself be beloved", "Give up itchy clothes", "Protect each other's dignity", and "Live like you're dying". There are 101 in all.

Decorated with spectacular artwork from readers of the author's blog, this is a beautiful little book to read and treasure or to give to someone to bless their life. It includes inspiration to create your own four-word words of wisdom, too!

That's not all though--the book is interspersed with poignant stories, precious stories elaborating on some of the four-word sayings that highlight central values in a well-lived life.

Although it is a quick read, the message of this book stays with you a long time. It can be (and will be, in my case) read over and over again to bring love and beauty into your life.

Highly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Shoofly on August 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The book, small and charming and yet whole, is full of mantras and recognitions. It is like a book of little word bonsai trees - elegantly shaped phrases crafted and surrounded by an artful thoughtfulness. A review without mentioning the art would be amiss - the variety and depth of interpretation brought from artists around the world make the book one that should easily grab your attention as a book that makes for a great gift, one that would allow you to wordlessly tell your own four-word phrases: "Because I love you." or "Thanks for being there."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tracy A. Mangold on September 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Four-Word Self-Help by Patti Digh is one big hug in one little book. Buy it as a gift to yourself, then go out and buy more copies to give friends and family. Patti once again shares some wonderful insights and advice that not only encourages but also invigorates the soul and the mind. It's not a book you simply read through once, then place on a shelf. It is a book you keep in your purse or bag, your bedside table, on your desk or next to your reading chair because it is a book you will go back to again and again for a dose of wisdom and warmth. Enjoy!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda Stockton on March 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I actually read this book in its entirety in 30 minutes.... Its a small book, which is fine, artwork accompanies each of the sections' take on Four Words.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this book missed the mark for me. It felt a little too simplistic --- which I guess is its purpose.... but: 'drink your coffee black', 'wear only solid clothing', and 'say what you can't'.... well, they didn't resonate.

Having said that, there were elements I DID like... overall I liked the 4 word concept, but what would have made it more meaningful for me would be to dive a little deeper.... for instance, the above mentioned 'way what you can't'... ideas or suggestions for being able to make that happen would be helpful.

I also liked the sectionon generosity.

Overall an interesting concept that could be further developed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rick Hamrick on September 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Patti Digh has taken an interesting idea and turned it into a delightfully rich little book.

The concept: compile self-help directives which are exactly four words long. How much insight can be delivered in so few words? When I first heard about her intention, I tried myself to concoct four-word sentences which carried valuable insights into living a life. It's not easy to do!

She has succeeded in not only delivering great, impactful statements of such brevity, she has also used those statements to invite a deeper level of reflection.

One of Patti's strengths is her ability to offer up new ways of considering our daily lives, to step back and feel the implications of the decisions we make each day and the cumulative effect not only on ourselves, but on those with whom we interact.

Her professional background in diversity training and consulting informs her more-personal work, what began as essays written for her daughters years ago, became a blog, then a book (Life is a Verb), and now is an ongoing and ever-enriching journey which she has offered to open to anyone wishing to walk along.

Four Word Self Help is a little book packed with a great deal of the Digh magic, a wonderful adjunct and a complementary eddy to the main flow which started with Life is a Verb and continues with Creative is a Verb. While it is a delight to read on its own merit, I do heartily recommend reading it as a companion to Patti's other books, as they set a philosophical framework within which this little book carries even more weight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jean A. Miller on September 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you disregard the easy-to-carry size, the sturdy package, the beautiful artwork from around the world and just read the four word bits of wisdom and the exposition that divides each of the twelve "hot-button" issues, this book still comes out a winner.

My favorite part of this book is knowing that Patti's words here are authentic and heart-felt. The author of [...] comes to the conversation open to change, open to diverse perspectives and I can feel her presence in each word and page. These four word missives are part of her life and she is sharing these gifts with us and inviting readers to create their own four word stepping stones to simpler lives. It seems to me that we can all use a little simplicity at this point.
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