BeKInd To Yourself, Others, and The World

LifeTree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, PH.D. Editor

May, 2012

In This Issue:
1.   Welcome
2.  Be Kind to Yourself, Others, and the World
3.  Happy Women, Happy Place
1.  Welcome

Today more and more people are simplifying their lives, reducing their material consumption, developing a sense of place, and investing in restoring a healthy balance with the earth.  Rather than continually consuming more stuff, people are building their relationships with family, community, and nature.  When we act considering the needs and well being of all, it becomes deeply gratifying because it serves a deeper purpose.

In a world menaced by all kinds of destructiveness, loving kindness is a necessity.  Loving-kindness, whether in deed, word, or thought is the only constructive means for promoting accord, peace, and mutual understanding.  Loving-kindness is a source of well-being and safety.  To promote one’s own self interest is a primitive motivation of human nature.  When transformed into the desire to promote the interest and happiness of others, the basic urge of self-seeking overcome, and the mind becomes universal by identifying its own interest with the interest of all.  Doing so actually promotes one’s own well-being in the best possible manner.   Here are a few ways you can be kind.

2. Be Kind to Yourself, To Others, and To the World

  To Yourself – Take to time to appreciate the things you do well, to care of yourself, and rest.  Pace yourself, reduce expectations, create meaningful experiences.  It will bring you happiness and joy.
  To Others – On a daily basis, let others know what you appreciate.  It builds your relationships and good will.
  To the World –   Consider donating to charity or giving a helping hand.  Serving a purpose larger than yourself is deeply gratifying and lasting.
    Food for thought -  Psychologists estimate, on average, that more than eighty percent of your happiness comes from relationships, health, spiritual life, friends, and work fulfillment.  Only seven percent is about money.

3.   Happy Women, Happy Place – “ Help, I’m Overwhelmed”

In celebration of Mother’s Day, we will be doing a teleconference this month on “Happy Women, Happy Place” on May 15th,  In spite of the advances women have made over the last 40 years, many women are anything but happy.  All too often we are overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed.   If this is you, come join us.  We will be looking at what you can do. 

We will look at what you can do to be kind to yourself in your home, in your relationships, and how this has a wider impact.  Three of us sisters will be sharing.  Samatha Shields, home energy specialist, will give tips on how to get started, right in your home.  I will be sharing on the importance of shifting your focus what you like and enjoy rather than correcting weaknesses.  Dr. Jane Granskog will be helping us appreciate women’s contributions around the world. 

Come join us for "Happy Women, Happy Place" Tuesday,  May15th,  Call 760-569-9000  Access Code 308311 9:00-10:00 AM CDT.

4. Quote:
"In everyone's  life, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should be thankful for those people who kindle the inner spirit."  Albert Schweitzer

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

Newsletter Name: 
Lifetree News

"Catching Happiness" - Interview with Barbara Altman

Come and explore an approach to growth that rejects pathologizing termonology in favor of a language of hope, individual character strengths, and personal longings directed toward meaningful goals. In this conference call, I interviewed Barbara Altman, author of the book Cry Depression, Celebrate Recovery.

As a child, Barbara dreamed of earning a degree in music and becoming a concert pianist.  Instead, at age 16, she was called into the principal’s office.  The principal was concerned that Barbara might be "schizophrenic."  Come and learn how her strengths in music, love of learning, persistence, and a caring community helped her transform herself from a diagnosis of illness to health.  She now serves as a deeply valued contributor to the community.



A True Confession

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

February 2005

In this issue:

1. Welcome
2. A True Confession
3. Seligman’s New Story
4. Your Story
6. Announcements

1.  Welcome

The theme for the e-newsletters this year is "Creating a New Story."  Many times our feelings about our relationships are not about the actual relationship, but rather about our stories concerning those connections.  What would you say if you were to tell a story about your most successful relationship?

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I am going to tell you a story.   It concerns a prominent leader in the field of psychology.

2. A True Confession

This is my favorite story from Martin Seligman.  It took place in his garden while he was weeding his rose bushes with his five-year-old daughter, Nikki.  Nikki was having fun throwing the newly pulled weeds into the air, all the while dancing and singing.  Seligman, very focused on clearing the area of weeds, yelled at her for messing up the garden.  Nikki walked away and came back a few minutes later saying,

"Daddy, I want to talk to you.  Do you remember before my fifth birthday?  From when I was three until when I was five, I was a whiner. I whined every day.  On my fifth birthday I decided I was not going to whine any more.  That was the hardest thing I ever have done.  And if I can stop whining, you can stop being a grouch!"

At the time, Seligman was a world famous researcher on depression,
and practiced his techniques for combating depression, called
“Learned Optimism," every day.   Despite all of his well intentioned
attempts to rid himself of his negativity, his "grouchiness" persisted.

He had to admit to himself, he really was a grouch.  Nikki’s words were
true.  His daughter had hit the nail on the head, HIS head. At that moment
Seligman decided to commit himself to a different way of relating to his
beloved daughter.  As a result of this experience, the concept of
Authentic Happiness emerged.

3. Seligman’s New Story

It became very clear to Seligman that his role in raising Nikki was not about correcting her shortcomings. He realized he had become "a walking nimbus cloud in a household radiant with sunshine."  As Nikki became aware of the negative consequences of her whining, she decided to stop it.  As Seligman became aware the negative consequences of his grouchiness, he decided not only to stop it, but to redirect his focus.  Nikki was a precocious child, socially intelligent beyond her years.  His focus on the positive aspects of her personality, he believed, would instill in her the self confidence she would need to navigate the stormy seas of life. 

I was delighted by Seligman’s touching account of his relationship with his daughter.  Both were courageous in their interactions with each other. His daughter was courageous in confronting her father and mature in her ability to see the negative consequences of her behavior. This incident helped Seligman’s relationship with his daughter and was a catalyst for the new concept of "Authentic Happiness." Their relationship became much more authentic and was based on mutual respect and admiration.    

5.  Your Story 

There is much we can learn from Seligman’s story.  You can start by thinking about your relationships in a different way before you talk about them with others.  I suggest that when you think about your painful experiences, that you consider the strengths that emerged in the process of overcoming those challenges.  Consider the joyful experiences as well.

A focus on the painful aspects of our past does not allow us to acknowledge and accept the gifts of the present. If we keep our focus on the broader, more spiritual lessons contained within our life stories, we become more authentically happy, and we will feel more connected with others and to our community.  

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

References:  Seligman, M. E. P.  Authentic Happiness, New York:  Free Press, 2002, pp 28-29.  

5.  Announcements

Successful Relating for Singles:  March 10 - April 17th. Grace Church, 7:00 -8:30, Call 314-291-6647, Ext 2112, to sign up.  Explore new ways to find the love of your life, and the life that you love.

Hearts Alive!  Soul Esteem Center, April 18, 25, May 2, & 9, 7:00 - 9:30 PM.  Flyer forthcoming or call 314-729-2855 for information. 

© Copyright 2005 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved.

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating
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