Phil Stutz on his string-of-pearls theory of work (and life)
Some motivational advice from Jonah Hill’s therapist
Welcome to the latest issue of Subtle Maneuvers, my fortnightly newsletter on wriggling through a creative life—and happy New Year! I hope you all had a restorative (or at least not terribly depleting) holiday break. If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can become one here:
Phil Stutz (b. 1947)
For this first newsletter of 2023, I thought I’d do something a little different. Rather than examine the creative process of a notable writer or artist or musician, I wanted to share a portion of Jonah Hill’s recent documentary about his therapist, Phil Stutz, which is now streaming on Netflix. If the idea of a Hollywood actor making a film about his therapist does not sound terribly appealing to you—well, it didn’t to me either. But someone I trust recommended it and I’m glad I listened.
The film focuses on the “tools” that Stutz has developed to help his clients better cope with adversity and uncertainty in their lives. Admittedly, some of these tools have sort of cheesy names and not all of Stutz’s ideas resonated with me. But one of them really did. He calls it the String of Pearls. Here’s his explanation: