Taking accountability for our lives is something that I always encourage each one of us to pursue in our life. To help us do this, I wish to share with you a book that was brought to my attention a few months ago. Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment, written by Peter Buffett is a resource that promises to inspire and motivate us into taking personal responsibility for our lives. I have to be honest that for me the title of the book alone is what hooked me to read and review it.

Life is what you make it….not what others or your circumstances make for you. Whether we come from an affluent or poverty-stricken background, this book is about motivating us to find our passion, gain our own self-respect and create a life that we are proud to call our own.

This book is different from most of the other books I read or share with you, in that it takes a lighter approach to sharing some guidance and wisdom from the author’s life. It is not based on sharing studies which prove or disprove something, it is not particularly spiritual in nature, and definitely not metaphysical. It is not your typical personal development book either. It is a book that is geared to help the average person in our world appreciate the power of personal choice, no matter how rich or poor their life situation is on any level.

About the Author & Book

Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment is written by Peter Buffett and was newly released May 2011. It is around 250 pages, but a smaller, light and smooth read. It is composed of an introduction, 12 chapters and an epilogue.

Peter is an award-winning musician—composer and producer. He has released numerous personal albums and his work in film includes the “Firedance” scene in Dances With Wolves. He is also a philanthropist and cochairman of the NoVo foundation — a foundation committed to foster a transformation in global society from a culture of domination and exploitation to collaboration and partnership, empowering women and girls as the primary agents of change.

To learn more about Peter and his work, visit: PeterBuffett.com

Book Content

Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment is a pleasant book to read. As eluded to in the introduction, the book is not necessarily any kind of self-help or personal development book, rather it is autobiographical in nature and best to be used as an inspirational and motivational resource. As Peter himself shares in the book’s introduction, his aim is not to be a “self-help guru”, but rather to share about his life, what he learned and discovered. Instead of giving us the answers, Peter invites us into contemplation and reflection on our own lives by asking many thought provoking questions, like:

  • Does each and every one of us have a life vocation?
  • Once we’ve found our vocation, what do we do with it?
  • At what point does parental help, become control?
  • At what point in our life do we give up more than we could possibly gain?
  • What do we mean when we talk about a “better” life?

Prevalent themes that Peter addresses in the book are to find your passion and live it, as well as exploring the balance between time and money; being and doing; hobby and work; patience and trust. The overall purpose, as Peter shares, for writing the book is to offer some help and guidance to others by exploring how values and identity shape our lives.

Our values guide our choices; our choices define who we are.

Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It

Here is a general breakdown of the main topics covered in each chapter:

Chapter 1 – Normal is what you are used to

This chapter begins the journey through Peter’s life from his childhood. Here he addresses the core values he feels are integral to a good life and presents lots of wise parenting advice that shows what kind of an impact a good home foundation can have on one’s future outcomes.

Chapter 2 – No one deserves anything

This chapter explores the concept of deserving and the attitudes some people adopt, based on the family they are born into. Peter discusses entitlement versus gratitude and shares some more great parenting advice.

Chapter 3 – The myth of the level playing field

This chapter examines how both the “poor” and the “rich” have their own sets of challenges, and ones which at the root level are often very similar in how they impact human life.

Chapter 4 – The (mixed) blessing of choice

This chapter is specifically geared towards parents and brings to light the often hidden or unspoken parental expectations that have a negative influence on children. It also looks at the role of choice in life, as well as privilege versus deprivation.

Chapter 5 – The mystery of vocation

This chapter begins an investigation into the concept of vocations, where the ideas of being versus doing are also discussed.

Chapter 6 – Buying time

This chapter was excellent at bringing to light the value of taking time with one’s decision and choices, and acknowledging the real value of time itself.

Pausing to look into own’s own heart is never a waste of time; it’s an investment of time.

Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It

Chapter 7 – Don’t just find your bliss—do your bliss

This chapter focuses more specifically on the concept of vocations, what they are, how to find them and how to put them into practical terms.

Chapter 8 – Portals of discovery

This chapter explores the topic of mistakes and how they are opportunities for us to learn.

Chapter 9 – Be careful what you wish for

This chapter brings awareness to the implications of making wishes without actually doing any preparation for the outcome of them coming true.

Chapter 10 – What we mean when we say “success”

This was my most favorite chapter in the book. In it Peter dispels the societal myths of what success is and inspires us with wisdom to define success for ourselves.

Chapter 11 – The perils of prosperity

This chapter explores the different facets of prosperity and how parental influence, especially from affluent families impacts the kids.

Chapter 12 – The gentle art of giving back

This chapter touches upon Peter’s involvement in philanthropic work, and fosters a message to each of us about giving back to the world, not just taking from it.

Life is what we make it. No one else can do it for us; no one has the right to tell us what it ought to be.

Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It

Personal Commentary

When it comes to the author, Peter Buffett, many in our world may hold false perceptions and judgements about him by assuming that his life was neatly carved out for him with little, if any challenges, or need to make major life choices. After all, he is the son of one of the most successful investors in the world—Warren Buffett. What Peter shares through the writing of this book however, is a very pragmatic story that exposes the reader to a different side. His dad may be world known for being one of the richest people on the planet, but that is his dad, not him. Despite his circumstances, he still very much had to make a life for himself, and today is inspiring others to do the same.

What I enjoyed the most about this book is that it calls us to take personal accountability for our lives and to transcend our circumstances. Both of these themes are huge for me in my life and what I teach and help others with. As long as we think we are our circumstances, titles, parents, situations or bank accounts, we continue to suffer. It is only when we move beyond all those and realize they are not us, that we really begin to consciously create our own lives. Therefore in this sense, the book is definitely empowering. Peter reminds us that regardless of what socio-economic background we come from, or what external pressures we face, we can make our lives, our own.

The more we imagine we need, the more we complicate our lives. The more we think we need, the less free we are.

Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It

It was an interesting read to get a perspective of Peter’s life, and his views about human nature, life and the world. In the majority of the discussions in the book, I got the feeling that I was able to relate to a lot of what Peter was sharing. In some areas however, I felt that we both came from different worlds, figuratively speaking. For example, Peter did a great job explaining how privileged does not mean having money and how we need to define our own success and to not settle for anyone else’s version. He was right on about how some parents cannot see past their own vanity in the control they want to exert on their children in terms of what life decisions they make (i.e. school they go to, career they should be in, etc.) To expand on this idea I will add that whether from “rich” or “poor” backgrounds, parents alike tend to get caught up in trying to control their children’s lives. Usually “rich” parents will enforce the view of “do what I did”, where as “poor” parents will enforce “don’t do what I did”. Becoming aware of these pitfalls can help parents understand why so many kids grow up resenting their parents, since instead of empowering guidance, they are given expectation-driven control.

Peter’s discussions on the value of time versus money were fantastic, as was his wise encouragement for each person to find their own passions. Where I felt our views differed a bit was that he appeared to look at life through the lens of randomness as to which circumstances people are born into, where as I come at it from the understanding that at any given moment (and lifetime) each person is exactly where they need to be for their personal spiritual evolution. Similarly, several concepts discussed like “worthy”, “mistake”, “fair”, or “luck” aren’t part of how I understand life. Either way, it is always great to expand our personal consciousness by seeing the world through the perspective of others.

As I mentioned in the introduction, the best audience for this book can really be anyone in our world that feels called to its message. However, the book can definitely help young adults and parents of young and teen kids most specifically. For young adults, it serves to empower them to make their own choices in creating their life, rather than be pressured to follow a certain path. For parents, it serves to bring awareness to what is most influential in a child’s life, the factors that will have the most impact on what choices the kids make and how to be of most help to one’s kids without too much interference.

The right choice isn’t necessarily the safe or comfortable or obvious choice.

Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It


In conclusion, Life Is What You Make It can make a great motivational and inspirational book for those who want a straightforward discussion on navigating through the current landscape of our world. It invites us to take accountability and step onto a path of conscious life creation.

We are all incredible beings, each richly endowed with our own unique experiences and views of reality. Thus there are many ways to present how to go about making your life your own, and in this book Peter Buffett shares his.

To hear on this topic directly from the author, I invite you to watch the video interview with Peter Buffett on EBTV, where Peter shares about his personal life lessons and wisdom for us all.

Books by Peter Buffett