Dove with Branch
August 03, 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 daughter has a longhaired cat And can you believe it! She brings it with her when she comes to visit. After the first visit and what it did to our furniture I said never again. When I told her no, she said, "Well I am not going to come without her." What should I do to solve this dilemma? - Rachael in MI

Dear Rachael, Your daughter is throwing a mini-tantrum. As you probably know tantrums work as a strategy only as long as we allow them to work. Once you have set the rule you should support it. We don't need to be unreasonable or arbitrary when we set rules but if you see the cat as a problem you don't want to deal with then a threat is no reason for changing the rule. Giving in to someone's demands is not the way to solve life's problems. You may want to offer an alternate solution such as you visiting her place if the cat is the only real problem. - the Dean

Dear Dean, My son-in-law wants to smoke in our house when he visits. My husband thinks we should compromise and let him smoke in the guest bedroom and the family room when it is vacant. I don't think we should do that. I think it's about boundaries and he needs to respect ours. He has known since courtship how we feel about smoking in the house. - Cara in BC

Dear Cara, I don't see it just as a question of boundaries. It is also a question about negotiating with your husband. He is suggesting an alternate rule that he feels would be more effective. You should discuss and consider this change. It is not just about your wishes. It is also about what works best, and your husband's wishes as well. If you decide to stay with the rule think of it as standing in your truth. When we think of it as a boundary then we create resistance (anger) when anyone tries to violate it. Yes your son-in-law needs to respect your (and your husband's) wishes. - 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

Your neighbor's dog comes onto your lawn and leaves a deposit. You are upset and you don't want this to happen again. What do you do about it? Do you shout at your neighbor or throw it back on his lawn, or maybe both? This is a solution that may feel good at the time. But how effective will it be in solving the problem? What is the real problem in the first place? Isn't the real problem living peacefully with your neighbors?

When we get angry and retaliate, how effective are we in dealing with the bigger problem? Not very! But this is what we do all too often, in personal as well as international relations. We often don't even stop to examine the circumstances and find out exactly what happened, or why. Was it intentional, negligent, or unintended? We don't even know if our neighbor was aware of what happened. We immediately blame and dislike our neighbor regardless of the circumstances, even though our cat may be misusing their backyard.

Let's talk to our neighbor in a friendly way to bring attention to and resolve these kinds of problems. We will then find solutions that are compatible with the underlying problem of living together in peace.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Once we are aware of how to change the way we process incoming information, change our beliefs, change our biases (ways of looking at things), we are still left with one major problem. That is our memories. Our memories are all of the things that happened to us in our life. Every memory comes with a judgment attached to it. The problem we have is that the judgment attached to a memory affects how we look at new events when they occur. For example, we may have a relative or friend who was killed in an avalanche. We may then transfer that to a fear of snow, or a distrust of weather forecasters.

We can actually revisit those old memories that are upsetting to us, and change the way we feel and think about them today. Some people tend to do this naturally. People who tend to be always positive or always negative have applied their particular bias when looking at old memories, in a way that agrees with the way they want to look at things. If you like someone you tend to forget that they teased you and upset you when you were young. If you don't like them because they teased you, you may forget that they always brought you gifts when they visited.

We can pay attention to old memories and change the ones that still have negative feelings attached so that they no longer do. In dealing with existing positive and negative charges on our memories our goal is to remove or diminish negative emotional charges and develop and intensify as many positive charges as possible. If this makes you feel like a Pollyanna, remember she was the happy one, she only seems unrealistic to unhappy people.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about a person that you dislike and think of all the positive things you can about that person. List at least three.

Tuesday: Acknowledge the person from your past for their good qualities and make a decision to no longer dislike them.

Wednesday: Forgive and release all the negative memories you hold about the person you have chosen.

Thursday: Carry out this process for all people that you still hold negative memories about.

Friday: Carry out this process for all entities and ideologies that you hold negative emotions about.

Saturday: Resolve to always release any negative emotions that you find in your memory.

Sunday: Resolve to intensify and enjoy your positive emotional memories.

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

The World Emotional Literacy League in conjunction with World Without Anger and Lumbini Buddhist University has taken on the task of introducing emotional literacy training in the educational system of Nepal nationwide. In support of that program I will be conducting workshops throughout the United States and Canada. These workshops will provide an introduction to the emotional skills training program as well as an introduction to establishing emotional skills training programs in your local area. The program and my workshops are based on my textbook "Emotional Intelligence - Taking Control of Your Life."

I have taken on the task of supporting the teaching of emotional skills training in the educational system with the trust and hope, that many in your community will be able to share in the vision of this great work, and join us in this amazing project. We are promoting a "Sponsor a School" program to raise awareness and support throughout the U.S. & Canada If you have any interest in the program and/or having a workshop in your area. Contact me for additional information.

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