Find Your Power: Self-help Addressing Global Issues

Every now and then we write posts that are slightly different to the usual TreeHugger fair. We are not normally known, for example, for our reviews of self-help books. We were intrigued, however, by the sound of "Find Your Power", a book by Dr Chris Johnstone that seeks to help individuals achieve 'inspired action' in their lives. While the books teachings can be applied to any number of situations, from giving up smoking to loosing weight, Find Your Power goes beyond the remit of most books in the genre by also addressing global issues. The author, who has a background as an addictions specialist, is highly active in the Transition Town's movement, which is aiming to break society's addiction to fossil fuels, and he uses his learnings from the medical field to help groups and individuals break through barriers to action.

This TreeHugger, who must confess to a strong cynical streak when it comes to motivational workshops, came across Chris Johnstone's work during a community permaculture meeting, and was immediately inspired. Dr Johnstone used simple, unpretentious, fun, yet inspiring group exercises to engage a group of more than 50 individuals in the challenges faced in fighting global warming, surviving peak oil, and reconnecting our communities. There's something incredibly uplifting to be in a room full of people who all admit to being worried about the future, and who are coming together to find solutions. Using simple visualization techniques, we were encouraged to imagine a world hundreds of years from now, where the twin challenges of global warming and peak oil had been overcome. We were then asked to imagine what stories the residents of this possible future would tell about those who came before them and had faced these challenges. For this TreeHugger at least, this seemingly simple exercise was surprisingly effective at concentrating the mind on ways to start making a difference, rather than focusing on the enormity of coming challenges. Dr Johnstone's book builds on such workshops, providing a tool box of creative ways to visualize and move towards goals, and to deal with inevitable setbacks along the way.The book's sleeve boasts reviews from psychotherapists, doctors, activists and business coaches, communicating the broad scope of situations that the author's approach can be applied to. It's organized into 13 chapters, which in turn are split into three sections: The Power to Begin; The Power to Move Through Blocks; and The Power to Keep Yourself Going. Individual chapters include Combining Vision With Pragmatism; Bouncing Back from Failure and Crisis; and Making it Enjoyable. The author draws on a wide range on influences, from psychology to chaos theory, to personal anecdotes from his own life, but the result is surprisingly coherent. Each chapter includes simple exercises to help inspire, for example, creative thinking, planning skills, or inner courage, and the chapters are rounded off with effective summaries, or 'Power Points', that can be referred back to at a later date.

As mentioned above, this particular TreeHugger has more than a healthy dose of cynicism, and was somewhat sceptical of the self-help genre. However, Dr Johnstone's book was refreshingly practical, down-to-earth, humorous and pragmatic. It used down-to-earth language and examples that almost any reader could relate to. Anyone who occasionally feels overwhelmed by the challenges facing us on the road to sustainability would do well to pick up this book. Anyone who doesn't occasionally feel overwhelmed would do well to share their secret with the rest of us. ::Chris Johnstone::