Dove with Branch
May 18, 2009 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My husband's brother lost his job and his home. He came to live with us until he could get back on his feet again. He has been here three months. He doesn't look for work. He doesn't help with the housework. He is often intoxicated. He shouts at our children for making so much noise. We can't throw him out on the street. How can we get him to leave? - Carmen in AZ

Dear Carmen, I am assuming he has no family or friends, other than you, who are willing to help. That would be no great surprise. Of course you really could throw him out if you wanted too; but you are a caring person who is willing to help family who are willing to help themselves. If you want to help more, offer counseling and conditions that he must meet in order to stay. If you don't want to invest any more, or need to be free of the negative energy, then set a date for him to leave. You could even find him a room and pay the first month if you can't throw him out. A decision to spend your resources and energy on helping those who will benefit may result in your choosing to help others instead of your brother-in-law. - the Dean

Dear Dean,My husband smokes in the house. Not only does he set a bad example for our children, he stinks up the house. Secondhand smoke is not good for our health. How do we get him to stop smoking? - Maria in CA

Dear Maria, Unless he made an agreement with you not to smoke before you married, shouldn't the question be, "How do we get him to stop smoking in the house?" He has a right to smoke. He doesn't have a right to make you expose yourself to it. You could all leave the house; or even the marriage, but hopefully you can find a better solution. If he is unwilling to go outside, or into a certain room alone, you are left with a difficult choice. Look for alternatives until you find the one that works for you. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: 90022 Sheffler Rd., Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

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

In order to live together in peace we require some sort of rules governing our conduct so we know what is expected of ourselves, and others. We do this when we pass the laws of our city, county, state and national governments. Without those laws and our acceptance of them we would have anarchy. Those laws are based on the will of the majority, and the rights of the individual.

A problem often arises because we don't fully accept this system. If we don't like a particular law we resist, or ignore it. When new enforcement measures are instituted we support them if we like the law, and resist them if we don't. When we don't like the law, we resist the idea of using new technology to catch violators.

For example we supported the use of DNA testing because it caught murders and rapists. We all agreed that they were bad and the law was good. They are now introducing new laser technology to measure the distance between cars to enforce the tailgating laws. Tailgating is a serious problem. It causes unnecessary death on the highway. Preventing tailgating saves lives! Just because we have a bad habit of violating the law doesn't mean we should resist its enforcement. When we determine the law has value let's support its enforcement. If you don't care about your own protection that is one thing, but this law is there for the protection of your neighbors and friends. If you care for them you won't resist enforcement.

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:

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