Dove with Branch
July 16, 2007 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk

Hello! - Dean Van Leuven

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, Our mother recently passed away. I am having a difficult time getting over the loss. My sister however doesn't even seem to be affected by it. She continues to go to parties and seems to be enjoying life much as before. How can she do this? Should I speak to her about her behavior and how disrespectful she is to mother? - Brenda in GA

Dear Brenda, You might speak to your sister and find some helpful tips for getting over the loss of your mother. We all grieve in our own way and our own time. The sooner we are able to Let go and get on with our life the better our life will be. When we have a loss the object is to get over it as soon as possible if we want to have a happy life. There is no required or expected way to grieve. You are entitled to grieve as long as you want but you should not be asking or expecting others to grieve in the same way you do. - the Dean

Dear Dean, My mother has never approved of my husband. She thinks he is not good enough for me or to me. I knew this when I married him. He is good to me! I love him and love being with him. He drinks but only socially. My mother refuses to even speak to him because of this. She won't even let him come to her home but invites only me and the children. How can I get my mother to accept him? - Grace in MI

Dear Grace, That is a decision your mother must make on her own. It would be helpful if you could accept that. Let your mother know you are firm in your choice and that you love them both and ask her if she could try. That is about the best you can do. If you feel the need ask her if she would keep her opinions to her self. Prepare to love them both and not let yourself be disturbed by your mother's honest feelings. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
by Todd Huffman   Globe Magnify Glass

As a pediatrician, every day I enjoy dozens of cheerful encounters with children and their parents. Each day, I meet with families from an amazing diversity of ethnic, religious, educational and economic backgrounds. Private political beliefs are nearly always left at the door. How blissfully ignorant we are, these families and I, and how well we all get along!

Human nature being what it is, I wonder were I to know the political beliefs of the parents of my patients, would I communicate differently with some of them? Would I spend as much time with them? I'd like to think I would continue to treat everyone exactly the same. But would some parents, once learning of my political beliefs, wish to no longer entrust me with their children? Sadly, I suspect so. Corrosive can be the effect and fatal the result of partisanship on relationships.

Daily as I read in the editorial pages and hear on the radio all of the back and forth sniping between those on opposing sides of our national debates, I consider how unfortunate it is that humans get along best when unaware of each other's beliefs. Would those taking vicious shots at one another across pages and airwaves in fact get along - as neighbors, co-workers, or fellow members of a congregation - if blissfully ignorant of each other's political beliefs? Sadly, again, I suspect largely so.

Guest columnist Todd Huffman is a pediatrician in Lane County, Oregon. He welcomes comments at:

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Humor can be an effective way to prevent our negative emotions from occurring. It is not possible to experience true humor and negative emotions at the same time. If you find something funny you are not looking at it in a negative way. When we look for the humor in every situation and respond with humor whenever possible, we tend to blunt the tendency to feel negative about something. Instead we transform it into a positive emotion. When we do this we change the negative situation or the event, whatever it may be, into a positive event from our point of view.

Humor can also be thought of as a way of re- appraising a situation. Because you have thought of something in a humorous way, you have changed it into an emotionally positive event. You have intentionally placed yourself in your positive emotions when you chose humor as a response. Also, this allows you to send the information to the thinking center of your brain in order to develop an effective reply. Thinking about something instead of just reacting, tends to remove or reduce the emotional impact.

When you respond with humor you are able to actually shift from a negative emotion to a positive one just by the way you perceive and react to the event. Thinking it is funny when someone cuts in front of you in traffic will change your emotional response. By using humor, you're telling yourself that you refuse to take things too seriously. Humor reduces the seriousness of your thought. It shows that you can laugh at your failures. Humor laughs at our failures, but in an accepting and tolerant way. It helps you see the other side of things.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how often you use humor.

Tuesday: Think about how it makes you feel when others use humor.

Wednesday: Think about how humor can transform a negative situation.

Thursday: Think about how others feel when you respond with humor.

Friday: Think about how good it feels to be able to laugh at whatever happens.

Saturday: Think about something that disturbs you and find a funny way of looking at it.

Sunday: Resolve to always see the funny side of life.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

Additional Notes

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