Phil Stutz on Why He Doesn’t Treat His Phone Like a Life-Line

Plus, the last time he felt burned out, and why.

Image of Phil Stutz courtesy of Owen Kolasinski

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people. Today, we hear from Phil Stutz, a psychiatrist and the author of New York Times bestseller “The Tools” and its new follow-up, “Coming Alive.”

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Phil Stutz: Thank God for one more day and pray to use the day wisely.

TG: What gives you energy?
PS: The feeling that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
PS: Remembering there’s always help around and remembering to ask for it.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
PS: The Book of Genesis (Old Testament). It’s the best explanation for where the human race is now and the best blue-print for where we need to go next.

TG: What’s your relationship with your phone? Does it sleep with you?
PS: I’m fortunate in that I’m not that good with the phone – in fact, it intimidates me. This keeps me from looking at it as a life-line (or death-line) to the rest of the world. I wouldn’t keep it near me at night anymore than I’d put a bomb under my pillow.

TG: How do you deal with e-mail?
PS: I try not to deal with it if it doesn’t require immediate action. I file it away so I can find it later (hoping that day will never come).

TG: How do you deal with an unexpected 15 minutes in your day?
PS: I use it to connect to people I otherwise wouldn’t reach out to or to do something that isn’t work related. My favorite is listening to soul music while doing light exercise.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
PS: This past weekend. The cause was what it usually is for me: over-estimating how many things I could do in a day and underestimating how much each of these things would take out of me.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
PS: I did a recent podcast but wasn’t adequately prepared and I sounded scattered and tense. The next one I did was much better because I took the time to prepare.

TG: Share a quote you love that gives you strength or peace.
PS: “DEPRIVATION IS CREATION.” It’s my own quote (see the chapter on the Black Sun in “Coming Alive.”) It’s a reminder that when you restrain an impulse for immediate gratification the energy you’ve held back is transformed into creative forces.

Phil Stutz graduated Phi Beta Kappa from City College in New York and received his M.D. from New York University. He worked as a prison psychiatrist on Rikers Island and then in private practice in New York before moving his practice to Los Angeles in 1982.

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