Dove with Branch
February, 13, 2012 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, I am now retired and now no longer work outside of the home. To my surprise I have learned that my wife never does the breakfast dishes until after lunch. The mess in the sink looks terrible and makes it difficult to fix a snack. How can I get her to quit leaving dirty dishes in the sink during the day? - Gordon in CO

Dear Gordon, You can suggest doing something that she wants done in return for her doing the dishes. Better yet, do the dishes for her in trade for some other chore. Best of all, why don't you just do the dishes in a cheerful way and ask her if there are any more to do while you are at it? The dishes in the sink are a problem for you, but apparently not for her. Complaining and demanding others do things your way are not positive ways to solve problems. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I want to use the bridal gown from my first marriage for my new marriage. My fiancée is happy with that but my mother, and my best friend say it would be improper because it represents my first marriage and because white is no longer appropriate. Would it be appropriate to wear it when others close to me think it is not. - Marta in WA

Dear Marta, Is this wedding for the couple or for their friends, would be the question. Only you and your intended can answer that. If it is important to you that you wear it, then why not wear it; unless of course your friend's opinions are more important to you than your own. You have valued relationships with each of those people. You should make your own decisions based on your own beliefs. Consider their requests, but make a decision based on what's right for you and your fiancée. You do not need to honor old traditions. You should however be considerate of the concerns of our friends. If you decide not to take their advice tell them why in a loving way. - 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

Most of us want to live in a society where all relationships are voluntary and peaceful. Some don't because they believe that they have the power to control others. For them, life is good as long as they are able to maintain their control over others. This concept of society, which is a common one, dooms those who do not hold the power to a less fortunate life. We are seeking to make an ever better model of society that will provide the most desirable life for the most people. We call this democracy.

In a democracy we have the freedom to make changes in our Government. We are not doomed to follow the same rules; or the same leaders if they do not serve us well. One of the problems we have is that we tend to resist change. We put up with old ways of doing things because we think they are the right way simply because we have been taught to believe they are right. When the way things are done make you unhappy, take it as a signal to examine your beliefs. Determine whether changing your belief or changing the way we do things would be most appropriate.

One area to which we should pay special attention is imposing our beliefs on others. The more we impose our beliefs on others the less freedom we have. We have chosen to be a society open to all and as a result we have to be especially watchful of imposing our beliefs on others. Never let your test be this is the right thing to do because I, or my neighbors think it is, or this is the way we have always done it. Do not become upset when your neighbor wants to do it differently. Your effort should be to find a rule that will work for everyone.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Train yourself to be a good listener by learning how to "listen deeply." To do this, you must put your own thoughts and beliefs on hold, and really focus on what the other person is saying. Unfortunately, most conversations can be characterized as "my stuff/your stuff." They can be likened to a strange game of tennis - played with separate balls. You serve your ball to me. I let it pass and serve my ball back to you. You let it pass and serve your ball back to me. The game continues in this way - with neither player returning the other person's ball. In such an instance, it obviously isn't a game at all. And in a conversation with the same characteristics, it's not really a conversation at all. You want to tell your story and I want to tell mine.

We never hear the other person's story because we are too busy telling our own. How many conversations have you had lately that went this way? We can defuse another person's anger simply by putting an end to the "my stuff/your stuff" game and truly listening to that person. Interestingly, very often when you give an upset person the courtesy of politely listening to what they have to say, without interrupting them or retaliating in anger, their anger is reduced. And they will be better able to listen to your story after you have fully listened to them.

As you are listening; focus on the feelings being expressed by the other person, rather than the strict meaning of their words. The feelings are the most important part of any message. When a child tells us, "Billie hit me," we tend to focus on the hit instead of how the child feels. If you can respond in a way that lets the child know you understand how he feels, this will tend to calm him down. For example, "It sounds like you feel hurt and angry." Learn to deal with an angry person's feelings in this way. Their feelings are usually far more important to them than the event itself.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how closely you listen when other people talk.

Tuesday: Think about how to recognize other people's feelings as they talk.

Wednesday: Learn to listen completely to the other person's message before you think about responding to them.

Thursday: Learn to allow the other person to tell you their story fully before you tell them your story.

Friday: Learn to ask questions so you can fully understand what the other person is saying.

Saturday: Learn to ask questions so you can fully understand how the other person is feeling.

Sunday: Resolve to always listen thoughtfully and fully to what the other person has to say before you respond.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of Life Without Anger 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."

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