26 July 2014

Review of The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels

The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and CreativityThe Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity by Phil Stutz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am working through The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower--and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion a second time. Initially, I thought that a lot of what Barry Michels and Phil Stutz teach here seems very New-Agey. After thinking about the Tools, I see that the Tools have cognates in Buddhism (esp. Tibetan Buddhism as it has come to North America). Active Love can easily be related to the practice of Tonglen: giving and receiving. A person first must receive love before it can be given.

Okay, you can say: "That isn't real, you're not really giving anything to anyone." I have to agree with that. I'm reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert and the "sending light and love" idea she writes about in Eat, Pray, Love. Even if you don't believe that you are sending actual love to someone, that is not the point. The point is: You are practicing loving that person; if you love someone, you have a harder time being angry (or sad, vindictive, or any other negative emotional state) toward/about that person. I have used Active Love more than any of the other Tools in this book and I can say that it has made it easier for me to stop renting space to those people who have "done me wrong." We often give too much thought to those people we dislike. I have no idea why. But, if you're like me, i.e. sick of doing that, then you'll read this book and use these tools to STOP DOING THAT!!!

What these tools do (only if you use them and use them use them) is give YOU more control over what YOU focus on. And, that is what the last tool focuses on: how to keep yourself using the tools. The authors say that these are not magic pills that you can use only once and then forget. Like anything that really matters, you will have to work at making the changes you want to make in your life.

Barry Michels writes that he was skeptical about the Tools initially, too, but that as he kept using them he realized how much they were helping him. Yes, there may be a time of uncomfortable repetition, but eventually the lack of faith is overcome by belief; and any self help program requires some degree of faith (in my humble opinion).

The authors recommend really sticking to the program, really giving it your all; they recommend not trying them once and then, immediately jumping on to another program and then, to another. As the writers argue is what is often done in consumerist societies: always looking for a magic pill, whether it's weight-loss, money-making, time-management, or whatever.

I have had some success with these tools. Does that mean that you'll have success with them? I have no idea. As usual, all I can say is: read it and use them and see for yourself.

Get yourself a copy, here:
The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower--and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion

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