top of page
Sunset Over Manhattan

Blog Post

Review of Thinking Fast and Slow, The Tools and The Power of Habit by Rachel Hott, PhD

My Summer Book Report; By Rachel Hott, PhD

Information exchange via books, internet and conversation are very important to me. I am always looking for ways to learn and grow. Recently I read, all on my kindle app on my iPhone, Thinking Fast and Slow by David Kahneman, The Tools by Barry Michels and Phil Stutz, and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. As I read I took notes via the electronic reader way, and attempted to work through my missing of underlining and writing notes in the margins of a “real book.”

All three books were very relevant to the work we do at The NLP Center of NY. One commonality was the emphasis on paying attention to the crisis at hand. In the Kahneman book he uses research to show that our minds will find what is wrong more often than what is right, in the Michels and Stutz book they discuss the importance of jeopardy and taking action because death is around the corner, and in Duhigg’s book he talks about the necessity of willpower and taking action as an important element of change. In our NLP/Ericksonian Hypnosis work we emphasize both the crisis, which can be called a moving away from strategy, as well as the solution, which is the moving towards strategy. When you think of what you want to do and are not doing, which will get you to take action, moving away or towards? This motivational concept is something we utilize and practice in our Master Practitioner Coach training.  We suggest that you use both patterns, avoiding the fear and approaching the reward to get you moving.

Here is a quick tip from The Power of Habit. When identifying your triggers, Duhigg calls them cues, keep a journal and note these five categories; The location, time, your emotion, other people and what was happening immediately before you did this habit. When you track your behavior you will be able to more easily change.

More about Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

I learned a lot from Kahneman. His overall premise is that as humans we can’t help but respond too quickly to what we see and hear. Although he admits that even with everything he knows he still has a difficult time not falling into the quick thinking trap, I would say, it has helped me take a minute to respond before immediately saying, “yes,” or “no.” There are lots of interesting ideas in the book, about our biases and assumptions. I just heard of a new book titled, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy, that uses a similar premise, which is that it is best to think things through in the decision making process. This may be the new reframe for procrastination. I can “wait,’ to read it.

I particularly enjoyed the Kahneman’s discussion about how we use memory. He described two selves, the experiencing and the remembering self. (There is an excellent Ted.com video of Kahneman discussing his views of Happiness, where he explores these two selves). He encouraged the reader to reconnect with the experiencing self, rather than the remembering self, and to find the peak experience to relive. If you only utilize the remembering self, you will add in all of the situations that may have been difficult. The experiencing self reminded me about the NLP anchoring technique. In our NLP sessions and training when we want to recreate resourceful states we ask our clients to go back to a time and experience the peak moment. Many times students or clients will object because they will recall a time when they were confident but the memories included a difficult boss, relationship, etc. We remind them that the experience they had was theirs to have and they deserve to re-experience what was positive and useful at that time.  This is what Kahneman means by the experiencing self rather than the remembering self, and he encourages the reader to find the peak moment, which is what we do in NLP when helping a student or client anchor their resourceful state.

The Tools, by Barry Michels and Phil Stutz, does have helpful “tools,” that I have shared with my clients and students. In comparison to Thinking Fast and Slow, The Tools, is a simple read. I had not heard about this book or the authors, and truly read it because of its advertising. I was influenced by a two page full spread advertisement in The New Yorker magazine. The advertisement used words, like, writer’s block, anger, stage fright, lack of confidence, procrastination, etc. I couldn’t resist seeing what this book would promise. When I am reading I often look for similarities to hypnosis and NLP, to compare and contrast the work we do at the NLP Center. I found the “tools” related to the NLP submodality distinctions and positive hallucination in hypnosis. Some things were different as they discussed a “force,” that goes along with every tool. The force is something mysterious, similar to a spiritual belief of something to support the individual, but not tangible. It is not necessary to use each tool, because you use whatever tool is useful, however tool #5 is mandatory.

Here are the tools; This first one uses submodalities of internal dialogue and visualization. (The visualization is also positive hallucination).  I suggest you buy the book to get the authors’ passion for each tool and force.

Tool #1 Reversal of Desire (learning to go towards fear or pain). The force that is evoked is forward motion.  When you do this tool you will be using a strong internal dialogue and visual imagery. Basically you think of a situation that you are fearing, think of the worst thing that can happen, now say to yourself, “Bring it on.” Next imagine that you see a cloud and step into the cloud, again internally say, “I love fear.” Then let yourself feel spit out by the cloud and you are embraced by a healing light. You then say internally, “Fear sets me free.”  I have given this exercise to several clients and they have liked it a lot. The force that is evoked is about forward motion. In NLP and hypnosis we speak about going from stuck to unstuck, from cataleptic to movement. Forward motion is always an important step.  The authors suggest practicing Tool #1 repeatedly.

Tool #2 Active love (which helps with anger). The force that is created is Outflow

This tool reminded me of the Buddhist practice that Dr. Stephen Gilligan taught Steven and me in our hypnosis training. The Buddhist practice is called Tonglen. The authors, Michels and Stutz, suggest practicing filling yourself with love. In NLP, we refer to this as anchoring a resourceful state, a time when you felt love. Going back to the Kahneman book, it is identifying an experienced self memory. Once you have the love internally, then think about the person you feel anger towards. This person can be in front of you or somewhere far away. Imagine transmitting the love and then having the love go inside of them. Again do this tool repeatedly. This tool reminds me of the practice we do with the Core Transformation technique. When we create the core state of Love, the anger dissipates.  For many people there is a need and appropriateness to expressing one’s self and this may include anger. The authors deal with this with Tool #3.

Tool #3: Self Expression. The force that is created is Inner Authority.

I have worked with many clients who have spoken about public anxiety and/or fear of public speaking. This tool addresses the idea of speaking to an audience, which can one or more people. In this section the authors discuss Carl Jung and his concept of the shadow side. Similarly in NLP where we speak about parts, with this tool the reader is told to see the shadow self, the one who is embarrassed or shamed. When speaking to the individual or group, first make contact with your shadow self, bond with this self, and from that contact, speak with full expression.

Tool #4: Grateful Flow. The force is the Source.

This tool is useful for worry and negative thinking, but could also be used for distracted thinking. Basically think about catching yourself when those thoughts come up and find something to be grateful for. I have read a lot about gratitude and our students are familiar with this concept. However, a new twist to being grateful is to think about new things to be grateful about each time you catch yourself in that worry or negativity.

Tool #5: Jeopardy. The force is Willpower.

All of the tools can be practiced, but they may not be relevant. However, this tool is considered mandatory. The authors discuss what happens when people achieve a goal, stop and get into their comfort zone. Just like most behavior changes there needs to be a way to make it happen as well as maintaining the change. This is where we find the crisis, the jeopardy being utilized. The authors create the most feared experience, death. I have heard that Tony Robbins, motivational speaker with an NLP background, does a similar exercise where he uses your end of life to push you to take action. Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan instructs him in a similar way. In this book the authors create your “death bed” where you fiercely tell your self  to not waste the present moment. The force that gets utilized is willpower, which is something that comes from within. This is a strategy I have used in the past, reminding myself that time is of the essence. I remember when I committed to obtain my PhD in clinical psychology in 1997, I told myself that I would get older no matter what and if I wanted to have a PhD I had to make it happen. Now looking back 15 years ago, I am so glad I did.

The last book I mentioned is The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.  I have enjoyed it immensely.  In this book Duhigg explains the format for habits, looking at the cue (in NLP we say trigger), the routine (we say strategy, whether successful or not) and reward (we say positive intention). His recommendation is that when changing habits to experiment with looking at what reward would be more motivating so that you can change your routine. This is very useful for readers who want to stop smoking, eat healthy and exercise more regularly. Dughigg describes not only individual’s habits, but companies and cultures. This would be useful for a change management consultant. I found this book very reinforcing for myself as well as for my clients.

I have told many of my clients about these books. One client asked me, “What do you do for fun?” I laughed and said, “ I find learning to be fun. And the next book will be fiction.”

Let me know if you read any of these books and what you learn.

Recent Posts

See All


Steven Leeds and I participated in the NLP Leadership Summit in Alicante, Spain on January 12-14 with 79 other NLP Leaders. There were NLP trainers, authors, educators, business coaches and therapists

I Will Change If You Change First by Steven Leeds

Many people come to me because they want to change. But often their focus is on changing someone else, believing that in order to experience a state of well-being, they must first get another person t


bottom of page