Dove with Branch
June 11, 2012 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, In your advice to Cassie (4/16), you mentioned that friends often bring out our own insecurities. I find this to be so true. When people (whether acquaintances, friends or family) make comments that I find hurtful, I have to struggle beyond the hurt to analyze what they were saying and why I perceived as negative and/or hurtful. This is not always easy for me, but when I do, I find there was usually some merit in the comment. This allows me to see the situation in a different light, and take action to make changes, if I so choose. Understanding how I react to these comments has also allowed me to attempt to be more tactful when discussing things with others. - Claire in NM

Dear Claire, Thank you for your valuable insights. When we pay attention to how we react and why and then consider its value in our life we are able to make valuable changes that deeply enrich our life. - the Dean

Dear Dean, My fiancée's family doesn't approve of me. They think I am not good enough for her because I am not Italian. They think I act like a cold hearted American, and they are always finding fault with me and telling her she needs to find someone of her own ethnic background. The problem is that she will go there for holiday dinners without me. I want to be with her on the holidays but she says she can't neglect her family and that I should go and they will eventually accept me. - Fred in NY

Dear Fred, The inability to understand ethnic differences frequently results in problems. This is something both you and your fiancée need to work out. Neither you nor she is obligated to handle it in a certain way, or do a certain thing. What you do need to do is find a solution that will work for both of you. I suggest going with her, even if the reception is cool. They may warm to you when they see that she truly cares for you. Issues that could break up the marriage need to be resolved before the marriage. How the two of you are at resolving differences is usually more important than the differences. - 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

We think of a court trial as a way of solving issues. In fact we have reached the point that not just a trial, but a complete exhaustion of the legal process is required. Our thinking is that we must do all we can to win, regardless of the cost in time and money. Those with the most money often use the process just so that they can win when the other party runs out of money and is unable to continue the fight.

If instead we viewed going to court as a failure, a failure to be able to resolve our issues, then we would approach the problem differently. We would make every effort to solve the problem ourselves; and then use mediation or arbitration for resolution when necessary. We would be much more willing to resolve our differences instead of battling to the end. Our effort to resolve problems would best begin just by sitting down over a couple cups of coffee and talking.

Unfortunately this same thing is going on in international politics. We look at war much the same way we do as going to court in the legal system. We use it as a tool of diplomacy. We look at war as a way to resolve our differences; instead of as a failure to resolve them. If we viewed war as representing a total failure to solve our differences instead of a failure to have our own way we would be less eager to go to war.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

All of the stuff that happens around us is just the game of life. Accept it as such. You are always free to start playing the game differently at any time. Choose to play the game in a way that feels good to you - and learn to quit paying so much attention to things that upset you. Our most natural state of mind is contentment and joy. Believe that every experience will be a positive experience in your life. It is at the very least a lesson that is helpful to learn. If we look at things in this positive way, we can benefit from everything that happens to us. Be grateful for each life lesson, and for every opportunity to learn.

Realize that the lesson is happening for a reason and that if it keeps happening to you that you probably haven't learned the point of the lesson yet.

Cut some of the drama out of your thinking, "I can't stand it." But you can and you do. It is just an exaggeration. When we dramatize, we just increase the stress in an otherwise already stressful situation. We benefit by just accepting things, without adding to the problem by making things worse in our mind. We can add a lot of negative emotion when we dramatize. Things we don't want to happen are going to happen. You will feel much better if you accept them as they are. Once you are fully able to convince yourself that you can stand whatever comes along, you will eliminate the horrors in your life. You will be left only with inconveniences, big and small.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how you would like your life to be.

Tuesday: Think about what you would have to do to make your life the way you would like it to be.

Wednesday: Choose to find the good in everything that happens in your life.

Thursday: Resolve not to dramatize or exaggerate your experiences.

Friday: Resolve to learn from every experience in your life.

Saturday: Resolve that you can accept any experience in your life.

Sunday: Resolve that you can handle any experience in your life.

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 conduct workshops throughout the United States and Canada. These workshops 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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