The Right Tools

The right tool gets the job done faster, better and with more satisfaction. Its that way for any undertaking; whether it is painting, plumbing, tightening screws …

When you tackle something, if youre serious about doing a good job; you will use the right tools. But, do you always? What about for things like love, happiness and personal satisfaction? What tools do you use here to get the best results? Your life is constantly manipulated by external and internal influences. You need to use the right tools to regulate and control these influences. You already possess all of these tools but; do you know or remember how to use them?

There are numerous practical and easy to use life tools available to you. It is helpful to think of these tools available to you in four task oriented categories.

1) Tools to enhance your abilities and to diffuse your obstacles.
2) Tools to improve your interactions with others.
3) Tools to get the most out of what life has to offer.
4) Tools for when things go wrong.

1) Tools to enhance your abilities and to diffuse your obstacles

This category includes tools such as practicing desirable neuron connections, using positive thoughts, identifying and controlling the filters that you use to evaluate and process information, controlling unproductive worry, managing stress and solving problems.

For example; positive thinking is a very powerful tool and should be used as often as possible. Whenever a negative thought concerning your abilities comes to mind, you should deliberately think a positive thought to replace it. This is because thoughts have the power of attracting not only what you want, but also what you don’t want. The explanation for why this is so; is very simple. Thoughts which receive your attention, whether they are good or bad, go into your subconscious as ideas. Your subconscious looks for opportunities to manifest these ideas as events in the real world. Therefore, if you have positive thoughts, you are more likely to discover positive things. If you have fearful thoughts, you may find just what you were afraid of. As Henry Ford said – whether you think that you can, or that you cant, you are usually right. So while you may think that your thoughts are a secret and of no consequence; they are not. Your thoughts are powerful tools that will impact your behaviour and your behaviour will create your circumstances.

Or, for another example; when you are trying to solve a problem, there is a stage of problem solving called incubation. During this stage, you turn your attention away from the problem. On the conscious level, you mentally let go of the problem and focus your attention on other subjects. Sometimes this can take a short while like seconds or minutes – other times; it can take days or weeks. During this incubation stage, your subconscious continues to work on the problem even though your conscious mind has moved on to other matters. Then, the light bulb comes on! – The solution is suddenly apparent. In other words, your problem solving performance can be improved if you temporarily put a problem aside. Just think; you don’t have to keep directly applying yourself to solve a problem – you can delegate to your subconscious and go out to play! Incubation is a wonderful tool.

2) Tools to improve your interactions with others

This category includes tools such as giving others the benefit of a doubt, understanding venting/solving interactions with others, understanding insecurity and how it manifests in you and others, conquering the need to blame, understanding why some people need to withdraw, understanding and identifying mirroring (described below), communication tools (usage of words, body language and humour), controlling interrupting tendencies, recognizing how your own actions dictate how others treat you, recognizing and understanding power struggles in relationships.

For example; do you know someone that really irritates you but they don’t seem to bother other people? If so, it may be that the person irritates you because you see in him or her, something that you don’t like about yourself; and have not consciously recognized. This is called mirroring. Understanding and identifying mirroring is a useful tool. Once you identify that which has been mirrored, you often find that the mirroring person is no longer offensive to you. In addition, recognizing your own character deficiencies gives you an opportunity to improve yourself. (You may find it reassuring to know that the degree or magnitude of the offensive behaviour is not necessarily mirrored.)

Or, for another example; there are helpful tools you can use when choosing words. Lets say you are asking questions – you should avoid words that frame the question in an accusatory, judgmental manner. If you ask, Why didnt you…?, the person will likely react by going into a defensive mode. This is neither productive nor pleasant. Therefore, questions that begin with “why” should be used cautiously because they have the potential to make people defensive or feel like they have to explain themselves. It is better to begin the question with what …?.

3) Tools to get the most out of what life has to offer

This category includes tools to encourage you to appreciate the wonders of this world, have fun, find courage, be true to yourself, find your own meaning of life and find true happiness.

For example; the ability to have fun is an important tool. Your brain has evolved to have fun. Therefore, fun and play is instinctive and fundamental to human existence. Because of funs usefulness in developing problem solving and adaptive abilities; it is one of the evolutionary mechanisms that have enabled the human species to develop to its current state. Fun is good for the mind and the body and should not be ranked as a low priority. It is very important to your well being. Fun also relieves stress, builds self-esteem and adds balance to your life. And its fun!

4) Tools for when things go wrong

Things may not go according to plan or people may disappoint you. Tools for troubleshooting when things go wrong include ways to deal with: depression, disappointments, perception distortions, poor me attitudes, negativity, anger, grief, nightmares and unsolvable problems.

For example; a negative attitude (negativity) is a very bad habit and unfortunately, easy to develop. There are numerous destructive consequences of negativity. Negative people tend to have less friends because no one wants to listen to complaints all of the time. Negative people look for problems and not solutions and this promotes failures. Negativity impairs relationships and careers. The list of destructive consequences goes on and on. Fortunately there are numerous tools that you can use to prevent or mend a negative attitude such as:
 have an awareness of the common types of distortions that negativity creates and know yourself well enough to recognize when you are becoming negative,
 form a support system with a friend or family member to help break the habit such that when one of you slips into negative thinking, you can remind and support each other,
 avoid or limit your interactions with pessimistic people,
 and many other such tools; too numerous to list here.

Collect and use

The challenge is not only to collect useful life tools; but also to remember to recognize the job that needs doing and then to use the right tool for the job.

Whatever life tools that youve collected, youve probably found that when youve remembered to use a tool; youve been rewarded with a better outcome than you might have expected had you not used the tool. When youve failed to benefit from a particular tool; the problem was likely not with the tool, but that you didnt think to use the tool. You see; its easier to recognize when and how other people might use a particular tool than to see when and how you might use a particular tool. That is; where others are concerned, its easier to identify that there is a need to improve something and; what the right tools for the job might be. This is because emotion is removed from the situation and that allows you to think more clearly. Accordingly, it may be helpful to view yourself from a third person perspective. That is, take a step back and look at yourself through the eyes of others.

I recently co-authored a book that summarizes and explains some of the more logical, practical and easy to use life tools. One of the most rewarding experiences of having written the book is that it continues to serve as a reminder to me to identify opportunities to use the right tool. [If youd like to know more about the book, please visit us at]

You don’t need any special skills or talents to collect and use the right tools. You need only be alert, resourceful and motivated.

In conclusion, if you want to live your life with more happiness, strength and courage: collect your tools, identify your opportunities and challenges and; use the right tool for the job!