The "Blessed Unrest:" The Faces of America

Have you been experiencing the challenge of change?  In the last posts we referred to it as, “The Blessed Unrest.”   Paul Hawken uses this word to describe the actions of millions of people who are creating a better world.  Concerned and aware, these individuals are acting independently, following no centralized set of beliefs, leadership, or organization. Their impact has been largely hidden, yet it is becoming a significant source of change.

Little Things are Big Things: Honor Your Strengths

When your actions are connected with your virtues and strengths, little things become big things.  For example, I often work with people who have a vague sense of anxiety and depression, saying they do not feel fulfilled. 

The "Blessed Unrest:" What is The Energy Behind It?

The "Blessed Unrest," a book by Paul Hawken, describes one of the largest hidden movements in the world. It involves of millions of people at the grass roots. Socically conscious and aware, these are the people working behind the scenes, taking action on what needs to be done. 

Overcoming Tragedy

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

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In this issue:
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1. Welcome
2. Real Learning
3. Adversity Fuels Greatness
4. Your Inner Strengths
5. Announcements

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1. Welcome
=============

Welcome. September brings the memory of  the 9/11 attacks.  It was September 11, 2001, that I set my intentions for promoting the positive, which led to this e-newsletter.  After viewing many of the replays on TV in 2001, I finally shut it off.  I no longer could be a passive viewer.  As with many Americans, I began to question and take action instead.  

Today, I have become increasingly aware that each of us has a significant power for creating peace, one moment at a time, in our daily actions with each other.  Rather than being passive viewers following the demands of the TV, it is much more gratifying to act as whole human beings, using our creative energies to build the community and eco-systems we need.  This e-newsletter explores this shift, and the central role of values in the learning it requires.

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2.  Real Learning
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 Today, with the concerns for safety, the strains on our ecological systems, we are facing challenges that cannot be solved in old ways. We need people who are awake, aware, engaged, and ready to take a hard look at what works and what does not. 

This need is marked by an increasing focus on real learning.  An important aspect of this learning is an awareness of our values.   In his latest book, Weapons of Mass Instruction, John Gatto writes that people who have a real education do not organize their learning around the accumulation of information, but around their values.  The first step, he believes, is recognizing our values, our ancestry, culture and place, as well as those of the surrounding community and the different cultures of the world. 

You can see this orientation in many educated leaders today.  John Gatto supports his position, by investigating the values that are influencing education. Caroline Myss 's audio CD's "The Sacred Contract of America" urges us to honor the values of our Founding Forefathers. She gives a fascinating account of American history from the perspective our evolution as a people. David Korten (2009) inspires us to move to our higher values in his book,  Agenda for a New Economy.  Finally, Peterson and Seligman (2004), in their book,  Character Strengths and Virtues , unite us by identifying the values common to most  cultures.  All have a strength-based community building effect.

 This kind of learning is not just about memorizing facts, but one of getting in touch the inner strengths that bring out the best of ourselves.     

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3.  Adversity Fuels Greatness
========================

We all have heard the saying "Greatness is born out of adversity."  Unfortunately, this is not always true.  When under pressure, emotions climb.  Adversity can bring out our courage, brilliance and strength, OR it can make us ugly beasts, fight, and run for cover.  When we are clear about our values, it helps us to take actions to hold things together, for the best interest of all, so that we come out stronger on the other side. Our values bring forth a higher calling. They help us become disciplined enough to stay committed and rise to the occasion to ride the challenge through. Every great country, business, family and person became that way because of pressure.  It brings out the best in us, but only if we can maintain our sanity.

Today, we can no longer see ourselves as independent individuals, families, businesses, and countries. We need to learn to work together as a planet in order to survive. The 9/11 Attacks officially marked a beginning of this higher evolution. We need to move beyond war to find solutions for peace.

From a psychological perspective, I believe one of psychology's great contributions is the identification of the character strengths to help us stay sane.  Each person family, business, and institution carries special aspects of these strengths, a unique signature. This helps us to be unique, while connected, and to see how our daily actions contribute to the whole.  You can gain a brief over view of these strengths going to the Authentic Happiness website (www.authentichappiness.org) and taking the brief strengths test.

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 4.  Discovering Your Inner Strengths
====================

One way to identify you values is reflect on the stories that are most important to you.  Stories help you discover the hidden factors that influence your life.  They also help you to appreciate your ancestry.  Many families have cherished old stories, told and retold at family gatherings.  These stories encourage us to talk about what is important.  When you take time to reflect on these stories, look for the hidden factors that helped you and others rise to the occasion, face your challenges and come through.  These are the character strengths and values important to you.  As you become clear about these values, you will become more centered within yourself and clearer how your daily acts can make a difference.     

For example, I come from a family where we have the character strength of a "love of learning."  My paternal grandfather, an immigrant from Scandinavia had only an eighth grade education. Because of his love for learning, he developed the first school bus in his locale, a horse drawn sleigh.  His son, my father, with his love for learning, became a country school teacher.

My father was especially touched one day in his rural classroom when a little girl fainted, too weak to concentrate.  She told him, "It was not her turn to eat breakfast that day." Inside her lunch pail was only a cold potato.  He shared his lunch with her, and began to learn about nutrition.  He subsequently went to Michigan State University where he became a teacher in the agricultural sciences and encouraged the members of our family and many of the community farmers to seek a higher education.  It was his life-
long mission to promote the growth and development of people.
 
Michigan State University was chartered as the nation's first land grant institution, designed to provide practical information for the betterment of mankind.  It was supported by an Act signed by President Abraham Lincoln.  Now, who would have guessed that a country school girl was connected to famous President?   It happens through our values. It is through the values acted upon in our lives that we become significant and bring out the best of our selves and others.

Let this 9/11 be a moment to honor the values that give meaning to your life.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

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5.  Announcements
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1. Tuesday, September 15, 7:00-9:00 PM.  Join us for a demonstration of the power of releasing old patterns and identifying your strengths. It will be held at the monthly open house of "A Gathering Place." 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101.

2. Monday, September 21, 7:00 PM CDT we will be having a complementary telesminar: "From Stress to Success."  Learn how your actions every day can create a shift on three levels: Cultural, Relational, and Personal. Just Click this Link:
http://www.instantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=9062832

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© Copyright 2009 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is added or deleted, including the contact information.
However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

Forward this newsletter to people you think would like to read it!

Disclaimer:  By reading this e-newsletter you understand that the information given in the e-newsletter, and related teleseminars, and blog are presented for informational entertainment purposes and "food for thought," not professional advice. You are solely responsible for the use of the ideas, concepts, and content and hold Lifetree Solutions LLC, its members, affiliates, and Dr. Alice Vlietstra harmless in any event or claim.

 

The Economic Shift

Successful Relating:
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D.  Editor
May, 2009

The Economic Shift

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In this issue:
==================

1. Welcome
2. The Shift
3. Winning in 2009
4. Upcoming Events

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1. Welcome
======================

Welcome. As our financial system continues to crumble, a new economy
is taking form. It is an economy that focuses on restoring the environment,
increasing the well being of people, and building sustainable wealth in our
local communities. 

Rather than relying on Wall Street, it is one that places our future on Main Street.
Look around. It is happening all over.  Here is an example. Last year, only one
of my neighbors had a garden. This year three neighbors have gardens and we are sharing seeds and talking over the fence.  This is the stuff that builds community

Here is another one. Over Memorial Day weekend, I had opportunity to visit
a business called "Growing Power," which is a leader in the urban local food
movement. It was exciting to see the participation of the youth.  They were
making a difference and greatly appreciated. What is this shift?  This is the
focus of this e-newsletter.

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2. The Shift
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Rev Billy, activist and founder of the Church of "Life after Shopping" says it nicely,

"Now so many of us have lost our jobs, our savings -- we are
starting new businesses out of our garages, out of our personal
computers. We discover that our hobbies can make money.  We teach
in the home.. . .we are doing what we can...

"This is the basic healing that we need now across our country . . .
We are getting to know each other again. This is the stuff of our
new economy.  It will grow and we won't let it go this time."

It is becoming increasingly clear that a competitive system of winners
and losers in which the "Winner Takes All" no longer works. All too often it
has only benefited a few of the ultra rich while others get the scraps. When
it undermines well being and the health of the planet, few are happy.

For the new heroes, our economic challenge offers an opportunity to build an
economy that works for all. Topics on this new economy, are well covered in
"Yes" magazine. It is one of my favorites.  If you want to be part of this change, it is helpful to know the keys for playing a winning game.
 
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3. Winning in 2009
======================

A win-win, framework is very different from a win-lose strategy of winner take all.
Win-win games are based on positive emotions, such as love, happiness, and joy. A win-lose game is based on negative emotions, such as fear and anger. Negative emotions signal danger and constrict our attention to obstacles that need to removed.  Positive emotion, broadens our attention, and builds upon our past.

Positive emotions also expand our awareness to include the negative, so as to transform it, making the whole situation positive. Even better, recent research has shown that positive emotion, as happiness, is infectious. Overall, win-win games are much more enjoyable than games that focus on win-lose.

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4.  Keeping Your Smile
=====================

Any situation, can be seen as win-win, or win-lose. The key is to maintain an internal mindset  of remaining positive. Here are three tips for keeping your smile.

1. Capitalize on your strengths.  These are the areas where you are most passionate, where you like to develop projects, and like to contribute.  When you are in your strengths, you will discover that you are more resilient and positive throughout the day than when you focus on fixing your weaknesses.  For example, a friend of mine has a strength of generosity.  Helping others
gives her a deep sense of purpose and joy in facing the challenges of life.

2.  Once you identify your strengths, align them with the universal strengths common to all cultures and traditions. This helps you to see how you contribute to the big picture.  You can do this by going to the Authentic Happiness website (www.authentichappiness.org) and take the brief strengths test or the VIA strengths questionnaire.  You will discover that you have a set of strengths that are unique to you, while still being part of the universal core.  Then reflect on how they have helped you and others.  This is very gratifying because it helps you to see how your efforts, right where you are, one moment at a time, contribute to the greater good.

3. Look for the strengths of others.  When you do this, your mindset changes.  It moves you  from feeling isolated to seeing yourself as part of a team.  It helps you shift from “Me vs. you” to “We are all in this together.”  If there is an area where you are weak, manage it out by finding others for whom this area strong.  This is a key to good team work.  We get a strong sense of well being when we have an integrated sense of ourselves at our best.  Combining this with
the best of others, and creates a powerful effort.

A win-win mindset helps us to become  empowered  to do our best. There is deep gratification that comes from being connected and working with others.   You will find that it will help you become more tolerant, more creative, and much more able to withstand the challenges that come into your life. Even better, this happiness is infectious.  It is the mindset that helps to rebuild our economy.

Enjoy,

Dr. Alice

Resources: www.growingpower.com; www.yesmagazine.org

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5.  Announcements
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June 22:  Learn “Winning in 2009” in a Teleseminar with Dr. Stan Fine and myself.  Learn what  communities are doing, share your ideas and gain support. Complementary, 7:00 - 8:00 PM, CDT. Sign up at www.life-attractionsblog.com

Women’s Workshop – The Joy Spillover Saturday, June 27th, 1-5:00 PM, at “A Gathering Place, 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101, Maryland Heights, MO  63043. Email me for a flyer or check it out at http://www.womensjoy@eventbrite.com.

================

© Copyright 2009 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is added or deleted, including the contact
information.  However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

 

 

Disclaimer:  By reading this e-newsletter you understand that the information given in the e-newsletter, and related teleseminars, and blog are presented for informational entertainment purposes and "food for thought," not professional
advice. You are solely responsible for the use of the ideas, concepts, and content and hold Lifetree Solutions LLC, its members, affiliates, and
Dr. Alice Vlietstra harmless in any event or claim.

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating

A Hidden Power

Successful Relating
Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D.
July, 2009

A Hidden Power 

==================
In this issue:
==================
1. Welcome
2. A Hidden Power
3. Strength in Unity
4. Blessed Unrest
5. Announcements

======================
1. Welcome
======================

This weekend we are celebrating July 4, Independence Day, the day when Americans celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This declaration is about American's deepest values, -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

At the time America declared its independence from England, it faced formidable odds. The colonists had no organized militia, no monetary system, no established country,-- and no conveniences as electricity or cell phones. 

They were ordinary people, -- farmers with turkey muskets, facing the English military -- the strongest in the world at that time. Still, they were able to rise to victory.  What brought them through?  This is the focus of this e-newsletter.

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2. A Hidden Power
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What holds a family together in times of crisis?  What holds a business together when cash is tight? What holds a country together when the economy crumbles and new structures begin to take form?

It is something deep.   It is so deeply ingrained in our hearts and spirits that it seems invisible.  Still, its presence is undeniable. One of my favorite writers, Blair Singer (2004),  put it into words.  He called it "The Code of Honor."

Singer decribes a Code of Honor is a set of powerful values and beliefs that we are willing to take a stand for and defend.  It forms the standards
whereby we hold ourselves accountable. It is at the heart and spirit of any successful family, organization, or country.  It refers to the values that are acted upon, the values that are implemented into real physical behavior.

A Code of Honor affects the big things like "The Declaration of Independence"
and little things, like "deal direct," and say "thank you."  A shared honor code reflects our higher motivations and aspirations, and helps us to move forward to accomplish higher goals. It clarifies the shared values that we hold together.

It gives business the broader vision that goes beyond the bottom line, to
include the people and the planet.  It reflects the wisdom of Aristotle
who stated, "The only way to achieve true success is to express yourself
completely in service to society."  

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3. Strength in Unity
==============

A code of honor, such as the Declaration of Independence, defines the glue that holds our families, business, and country together. In every family and business, conflict will ALWAYS arise. Conflict can destroy a group, or it can pull a group to work together as a team at a higher level.

When "Push comes to shove," we can criticize and blame others, OR we can take personal responsibility and do what is needed. It is our shared values and personal honor code that holds us accountable to do our work. 

While values help us to define our higher ideals, they also help us to acknowledge our common humanity.  We all have moments when life goes crazy.  At set of guidelines with clearly defined values, developed in SANE moments, helps us to see our way through the craziness to a higher level
of functioning.

Positive psychology has made a huge contribution to help us stay SANE by
defining the constitutional virtues and character strengths universal to most
cultures and traditions. At the same time they are personal,in that these
values are part of our character. These are the values that create the glue
when times get rough.

For example, I come from a family where the family members have many
different views. When discussing a new idea, there often is tendency to
quickly accept it or reject it.  This can result in conflict and division
over one position or another, rather than giving it time and allowing a more
harmonious solution to emerge.

Fortunately, there is a character strength of "open mindedness and critical
thinking" that helps to solve this problem. Seligman (2002) in his book "Authentic Happiness," refers to it as "sifting through information objectively rationally, in the service of the good for self and others with a focus on reality. . . The opposite is over personalization (It is all my fault), black and white thinking, or thinking in ways that confirm what you already believe. It is a significant part of the healthy trait of not confusing  your own wants and needs with the facts of the world."
 
Reflecting on this deeper value has helped tremendously in reducing conflict,
maintaining unity, and letting harmonious solutions emerge.  Adopting it as an agreed upon value, is an example of the hidden honor code.

=====================
4. "Blessed Unrest"
=====================

Today we have gone much further than the colonists -- the farmers with turkey
muskets. Indeed, Paul Hawken, has identified a whole movement -- the largest the world has ever seen.

He describes it in his book, "Blessed Unrest" (2007). This movement is very different from a typical movement because it has no single leader or ideology.  Instead, it is coming from a multitude of caring people -- doctors without borders, mothers, peasants, teenagers, children, and businesspeople, to name a few. 
Large as it is, no one knows its true size.

Fiercely independent and aware, these people are facing and working on the most pressing issues of the day: global warming, poverty, peace, hunger, conservation, human rights, and many more.  They work quietly behind the
scenes, getting the job done, providing hope, support and meaning to people around the world. 

Hawken believes the clout behind this emergence resides in idea, not in force. 
"Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Rather than control, it seeks connection."

What we have today, is more than independence. It is an interdependence where we can be have our own individual views and yet be quickly connected through our higher values and technology for the highest good of all.

What is the energy behind it? I think it is the invisible code, and the Creator, who
loves us all. Take time this weekend to renew your enthusiasm for the deep spirit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Dr. Alice

Resources:

Hawken, Paul. Blessed Unrest. New York:  Penguin Press, 2007.
Seligman, M. Authentic Happiness. New York:  Free press, 2002.
Singer, B.  The ABC's of Building a Business Team That Wins. New York, Warner Books, 2004.

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5.  Announcements
=================

1. Monday, July 20, 4:00 PM CDT Winning in 2009: The Holistic Shift. 

Learn how your small actions every day can create a shift on three levels:
Cultural, Relational, and Personal.

This complementary teleseminar will be given by Dr.Jane Granskog - Cultural anthropologist, myself, Dr. Adrienne Zahner, Personal Energy specialist.

Sign up for the link on my blog at www.life-attractionsblog.com
 
2. Saturday, August 29, 1-5:00 PM, CDT A Women's Happiness Workshop:  
Creating Relationships That Work.

Check it out at
http://creatingrelationshipsthatwork.eventbrite.com.

================

© Copyright 2009 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved. The above material is
copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as
long as not a single word is added or deleted, including the contact
information.  However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

Forward this newsletter to people you think would like to read it!

  

Disclaimer:  By reading this e-newsletter you understand that the information given in the e-newsletter, and related teleseminars, and blog are presented for informational entertainment purposes and "food for thought," not professional advice. You are solely responsible for the use of the ideas, concepts,
and content and hold Lifetree Solutions LLC, its members, affiliates, and Dr. Alice Vlietstra harmless in any event or claim.

 

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating
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