Dove with Branch
August 05, 2013 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, Bruce and I are planning to be married in January. We want to have a small wedding with only family and a few close friends attending. My mother is okay with this but Harold's mother isn't. She insists on a big wedding and reception including almost everyone we know. She insists that the family's social status is important and she will pay for everything. Neither Fred nor I are concerned about social status. What should we do about this? - Kelly in IL


Dear Kelly, It is good to consider the feelings of others in your family, but you are entitled to make the decisions. Turning it over to your mother-in-law could be a great gift if you were comfortable with her plans. Be sure you have considered the benefits. If you do not find them attractive, then you and Harold should politely and firmly decline her offer or perhaps consider a compromise. The two of you need to reach agreement on your course of action and follow it. You are free to choose a social life different from your parents. - the Dean


Dear Dean, I give my grown children and my grandchildren gifts for their birthday and Christmas and never receive any kind of thank you from them. I am upset by their rudeness. How can I get them to acknowledge the gifts that I give them? - Wanda in CA


Dear Wanda, You can't and you shouldn't. When we give someone a gift that means that it is given without condition. If we expect something in return, even if it is only a thank you, we have not given a gift since we are expecting some form of payment in return. It is customary in our society to acknowledge and give thanks for gifts and if you want to give them something on that condition you may certainly do so. Consider that they are not thanking you for the gifts simply because they have not learned the concept of doing so. If you want them to learn this concept a pleasant word pointing out the value of doing so would be appropriate. Not feeling loving toward your children and grandchildren because they haven't learned the concept seems a very high price to pay. - 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 the past our efforts have been primarily a resistance to war (ban the bomb). We have not found war good and we have been fighting a campaign against war and its horrors instead of going on a search for peace. Gandhi was successful in uniting and mobilizing his people to free them from the oppressive rule of the British. Once that immediate problem was solved the Hindus and the Muslims turned on each other and broke his heart. The people of India united to solve a common problem but they were not able to forget the perceived differences between themselves and live in peace. The path looks more promising for the work of Martin Luther King Jr., because we are still making measurable progress on racial equality. However many of us would like to see us moving forward at a faster pace.


Until now, perhaps no other path was possible because we had not yet developed a sufficient amount of peace in our individual hearts to be able to experience peace in the world. Remember, no matter how much we think we might want something we are still going to out-picture the kind of world that we feel on the inside. The answer to our problem will not appear until we have sufficient awareness to understand it. The answer is already there, we just haven't seen it yet.


Theoretically this shift in awareness could happen overnight. However, from my experience I believe there is still a lot of work yet to be done. When enough of us are able to find that elusive peace in our heart then the change will happen rather quickly.


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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