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How to Change the World (The School of Life) [Paperback]

John-Paul Flintoff , The School of Life
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 May 2012 The School of Life

We all want to live in a better world, but sometimes it feels that we lack the ability or influence to make a difference. John-Paul Flintoff offers a powerful reminder that through the generations, society has been transformed by the actions of individuals who understood that if they didn’t like something, they could change it. Combining fresh new insights from history, politics and modern culture, this book will give you a sense of what might just be possible, as well as the inspiration and the courage you need to go about improving and changing the world we live in.

One in the new series of books from The School of Life, launched May 2012:

How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry

How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric

How to Worry Less About Money by John Armstrong

How to Change the World by John-Paul Flintoff

How to Thrive in the Digital Age by Tom Chatfield

How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton

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How to Change the World (The School of Life) + How To Stay Sane: The School of Life + How to Find Fulfilling Work (The School of Life)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447202325
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447202325
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

John-Paul Flintoff is an author, writer and broadcaster. He trained as an investigative reporter, worked for several years at the Financial Times, and has written for many other newspapers and magazines around the world. His work has won several awards, and has led directly to changes in UK government policy. For more, see

The School of Life is a London-based enterprise that is dedicated to the most useful ideas relevant to the dilemmas of everyday life. We consider questions like: How can we fulfil our potential? Can work be inspiring? Why does community matter? Can relationships last a lifetime? We don’t have all the answers, but we will direct you towards a variety of useful ideas – from philosophy to literature, psychology to the visual arts – that are guaranteed to stimulate, provoke, nourish and console.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Change the World (right now) 14 Jun 2012
By Codfish
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At first, when I read the title of this little book, I thought the author must be being ironic.......How to Change the bleedin' World?! But no, J.P. Flintoff is straight up. He's out for getting everyone to sit up, stop falling into life and start shaping it.

To do this (and so, change the world) Flintoff draws from many sources, including religious, (mainly Buddhist), historical, literary, sociological, environmental, artistic......the result being that he has gathered some of the most inspiring quotes together in these pages, and one cannot fail but to want to a)grow too many veggies, and then knock at neighbours' doors to offer them round; b)start a non-violent protest and c)use more humanistic language (all ideas, amongst many, offered by the author himself).

Personally, I love the idea of changing things......too often we resign ourselves to accepting the way things are, we get overwhelmed, we lose hope, get ill, don't like ourselves, or rant against "them" out there. This book explains there is no "them", not really. Flintoff gives examples of individuals who have contributed to great change and elucidates on how. He shares practical advice, including the odd self-help assignment (don't limit yourself to one role!), to facilitate action. Luckily, it's a little book, in bite-sized chapters, and can be read over the course of a there's plenty of time to get on with all those initial steps we need to take.

An insightful and encouraging read to set us on the road to creating a great future.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Before I go any further, can I just mention what a beautiful little object this book is? The book is a pleasing fawn colour with bright green highlights, it has room at the back for notes, and rounded corners so it doesn't go dog-eared in a rucksack. It is three-dimensional proof that the ebook hasn't made its paper cousin obsolete just yet.

Anyway, with a title like How to Change the World, you could be forgiven for rolling your eyes. Roll not. This is a more practical and modest treatise than you might expect. It begins by blowing away the notion that changing the world is about big important matters, dismissing the popular conception that "history is about the action of dominant individuals." Far from it. History is composed, as Tolstoy said, by "an infinitely large number of infinitesimally small actions." We all influence the world around us every day, in dozens of little ways, whether we like it or not.

The key is to be more deliberate about how we influence things, to aim higher, to be more intentional. That means overcoming inertia, summoning our courage, and taking a first step. If you know exactly what you want to do, you might want to strategise a little. If you don't have a particular goal in mind, you can still get on with changing the world in little ways, right where you are.

There's lots of good advice here about how to make change happen, how to convince people and get them board with your cause. There are personal stories and historical asides that show just how much change can come from relatively small actions. Rosa Parks, Flintoff reminds us, played a major role in ending racial segregation in America by sitting on a bus.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you do it? Yes you can! 10 Jun 2012
This, like JPF's last book, is inspiring and uplifting. It's very easy to convince oneself that we are helpless in the face of institutions, structures, and systems, or even plain old lazyness - and that we can therefore sit back and simply lament this state of affairs and excuse ourselves from doing something. But JPF reminds us that this isn't so - so go on, be a little counter-cultural, show some optimism, have some backbone, start small (or big), but don't spend all afternoon on f'book or tweeting but get out, live life and make change. You'll feel good about what you achieve and if you then f'ook or tweet about what you've done you'll inspire others. Seed/book/stuff swop anyone?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read, or attempted to read, a lot of books and articles about the state of the world and how we are live within it. If I don't fall asleep first I often end up feeling more frustrated than i do empowered to make my life better.

If, like me, you tend to get bogged down in the enormity of the problems that we face then this is useful way to start making small but meaningful changes in your life. I like this little book because it gave me a nudge to get off my derriere and actually do something positive.

JP Flintoff's writing is good humoured and readable and yet it draws on a vast range of sources from deep ecology, philosophy, religion, social theory and psychology. You can't help but feel inspired to start a Guerrilla Gardening movement or yarn bomb your town centre. Things you can do range from making an inspirational banner, sharing out your surplus veg or helping an elderly neighbour to starting a non-violent protest or setting up your own social enterprise. There are even some written exercises you can do to help to focus your thoughts.

The over-arching message of this book is that we can only stand to benefit from taking positive action. We can make our own lives better and more satisfying if we take action to change things that we think need changing.

Definitely worth a read and also worth dipping back into from time to time to remind yourself that the work of changing the world never ends.
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