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
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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
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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
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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.

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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.

 

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