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How to Change the World (The School of Life)
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2012
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.

Drawing on a wide range of sources that includes Gandhi, Iris Murdoch, and the Biblical idea of the Kingdom of God, Flintoff concludes that changing the world is an ongoing process, a state of mind. It's the decision to open ourselves to the world around us and take responsibility for what's wrong. Those that do it best are those that do it out of love. "If we are really interested in changing the world" he says, "we have to put others first."

How to Change the World is short, wise, and inspiring. It's frequently humorous, and full of encouragement. Appropriately for the topic, it comes with homework.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2012
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2012
This is a really optimistic book and it encourages people to feel empowered by looking at their sphere of influence and realise the power they have to make changes. It's an enjoyable read and one that left this reader happy to have read it.

One of the recommendations is to pass on good things to people, so I'm going to make a recommendation here. The funniest book I've read recently is Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys. I read it during a bit of a low point and it was really good fun and surprisingly funny. If you're feeling a little low you could do a whole lot worse.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2012
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 day........so 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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2012
When I launched into this book I realised quite quickly, that most of the time, I am so preoccupied with trying to make my world and the world of my loved ones, a better place, that I'm not always conscious of what I am actually achieving and how.
Worrying about the world can be quite exhausting, never ending, and sometimes over whelming.
What John Paul does here so brilliantly, is tell us how the world works as it is being changed.
I found it deeply encouraging, friendly, and funny too.
Changing the world can be fun, not serious, and quite an adventure.
J-P roots our minimal efforts into a deep history, and sets us on our way.
It's not angry or angsty, just very sensible.
A great holiday read, and a perfect present for difficult brothers etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2014
Thought provoking because it gives you ideas of possible ways of changing your environment and personal relationships. Also can be read as a "dip-in dip-out" type of book.
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on 7 March 2015
Another fine addition to the growing list from The School of Life series. Don't worry, the content is not as hubristic as the title suggests, Flintoff takes a sober, intelligent and realistic approach to how he believes we can change the world in our own ways and he does a fine job of making his point.
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on 17 January 2015
A lot of simple things to do to make the world a better place I felt inspired. By the end though I was feeling that it had gone on a bit long
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on 9 February 2015
Practical extremely positive never let's you feel you haven't the power to change things .. Be the change you want to see
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