Dove with Branch
November 24, 2008 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Dear Peacemaker,

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, I am forty-three years old and my mother is still running my life! She suggests things like how I should dress my kids and even what I should wear when I go shopping. She will also tell my husband that what he is planning to wear isn't suitable for the occasion. I respect my mother but how do I get her to stop giving me advice? - Louise in AK

Dear Louise, The first thing to do is to think carefully about whether you want her to stop giving advice. If you just let her speak her mind and continue to make your own choices you don't need to be upset by what she says to you. Your other options run all the way from explaining that you feel ready to make your own choices now, to breaking off regular contact with her. It may be difficult to get her to change. Think carefully about learning to tolerate her behavior before you make a choice that damages an otherwise good relationship. - the Dean

Dear Dean, We live in Idaho and each summer we try to spend some time at each of our family homes in Colorado. We enjoy our three weeks there a lot but we have a problem with my wife's parents. They plan too many events for us that it doesn't leave us enough time to do all the things we would really like to do. How can we find more time on our own without insulting them? - George in ID

Dear George, If you are going to make your decisions based on whether you insult them or not this may be difficult. I suggest you listen and accommodate them if you can make that work for you. Explain that you have other prior commitments when it won't. You can respect other's wishes and accommodate their good intentions when it works without letting them take control of your decisions. If being nice and just explaining your need or desire to do what you choose and let them keep trying to be helpful doesn't work for you, then perhaps you, your wife, or both of you, need to have a "heart to heart" with them. - 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
Dean Van Leuven   Globe Magnify Glass

Our government's purpose is to provide for the greater good of our society as a whole. We often notice but tend to tolerate what we call "pork" spending whereby some of our more influential legislatures obtain funding for special projects in their district that seems out of proportion cost wise to the needs of the whole country. This is a concern we should pay more attention to and find a way to reduce the abuses.

A related problem that we fail to notice is that we tend to look at the benefits we will receive from a project and fail to notice the cost. When we put in a new "road to nowhere" we fail to notice how much benefit we get from it considering the cost to build it. We start projects with federal funding because the money is available rather than based on the merit of the project. If we wouldn't spend our own money to do it, why should we do it just because the federal government is going to pay?

If we have an attitude that we should get as much of the federal funds as possible then we become like the child who runs up debt on the family credit card without worrying because mom and dad will pay the bill. When we learn to care about our neighbors we will become more concerned about their having to pay for our extravagances. Society works better when we share than it does when we try just to "get what we can."

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Failure always gives us the opportunity to try something else. One of the greatest challenges is to learn to accept not achieving our goal. We can learn to look at such disappointments as a signal to re-evaluate our goals and the methods of getting there. We can even look at it as an opportunity to pursue different goals.

Our perceptions are not facts. They are mirrors of our thoughts in that we choose what to focus on, and our belief system determines how we interpret the information. We get different interpretations because we have different beliefs. To change our interpretations we must change our beliefs.

The important thing to remember is that how we perceive a conversation with a loved one, the behavior of others, or our own personal performance depends on our unique frame of reference. If your perception produces a warm feeling great! But if it is upsetting, it is time to stop and review your perceptions to try to determine why you are upset. If you want your perceptions to deliver different results, you must make some changes. Learn to accept feeling upset as a signal that you are in need of a "perception adjustment."

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: When someone speaks to you notice how you feel about it.

Tuesday: Notice how you feel when someone disagrees with you.

Wednesday: Notice how you feel when a goal or desire is not realized.

Thursday: Think about what belief you have that makes you feel upset.

Friday: When your response is upsetting think about a way to feel about the same event that is not upsetting.

Saturday: Create a new belief that will allow you to feel positive about the upsetting event.

Sunday: Resolve to always find ways to create positive feelings about all of the events in your 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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