“I always felt I was here in this existence to learn something special”
~ Dr. Dean Van Leuven
Profoundly called as the ‘Dean of Peace’, Dr. Dean Van Leuven is a man of optimism, love and empathy. To know him is to realize the importance of life and to accelerate its elements for the core happiness of a human being. His major contribution is about Love versus Anger in the lives of humans.
It is quite probable that every one of us experiences extreme stress at various states of affairs in one’s own lives. But do we need to worry more about the unfavorable conditions? With this context of debate, one should even probably be known that there is life beyond any type of stress, and it is importantly equal that one should know worriment is never permanent.
Humans are always in search of happiness, but the unbelievable fact is that we often magnify the intensity of a challenge faced by us. Well! There are even several ways to see challenges through positive lens of life. Such powerful insights and observations are put forth by Dr. Dean to help humankind relieve despair.
Dr. Dean was born on 14th February 1933 and currently belongs to the state of Oregon in the US. He, being an aircraft commander, a psychologist, an author and a trainer, never saw life uninteresting. He is a multifaceted personality and got an aura of tender profile. His life is an exemplary illustration of “Life without Anger”. Today, Dean is the messenger who shows you the way to completely eliminate anger from your life and fill it with peace, love and joy.
Dr. Dean makes people understand the plan of action during anger and how it could be lessened down to peace. With his works, he tries to define the real sense of leading life without triggering anger which could ultimately destroy the peace of the individual. Global peace is very much essential these days because anger is multidimensional in nature as it can take any form like terrorism, hate speech and other harmful modes to humankind on this big blue marble. Peace, love and joy is the need of the hour because when there is conflict arising at the individual state, the way he/she overcomes the situation and the way chosen to resolve the challenge is a key role to think about. This reflects the future actions of the individual, society, nation and world at large.
To live better, initially one should work on themselves to analyze in the best possible way as there could be no other good person to know exceptionally well than you to yourself. For these, one should focus on the improvement of one’s own personality with sound soft skills to apply them at different phases of life. Concepts like self-introspection, interpersonal skills, anger management, goal setting, decision making, time management, emotional intelligence are very much essential for the growth of the individual. Among the many, Anger Management is one such crucial aspect to focus on with the help of Dean’s inputs of Life Without Anger. (http://www.deanofpeace.com/)
Let us now look into a deeper understanding of various concepts with the help of Dr. Dean’s work.
Initially, an individual should be aware of his emotions. Emotions here can include happiness, sadness, anger, fear, joy, disgust, surprise, etc. Here comes the concept of emotional intelligence where one should be aware of the emotions vent out and its intensity. It also includes how one deals with various emotions at different stage in his/her life. It is always appreciated to communicate your emotions but remember every feeling needs to be controlled, measured and analyzed. Too much anger leads to violence for instance. Therefore, the emotion you show to others should serve meaningful purpose. Precisely, one should know how to manage one’s own emotions in one’s day-to-day life to lead a peaceful life because Emotional Intelligence can take control of one’s life. One should learn to align his/her belief system and the choices they make to witness positive experiences in their journey of life.
One should regulate his/her thought processes and emotions in order to make life effective and efficient. Through intense training of the mind, it is certainly possible to change the thinking process. With certain concepts like observational skills, interpretation, analysis of emotions, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation can really help an individual to understand his conditions better and also helps him to find out how he/she should act at times. Positive emotions are very much essential in our lives because they accelerate the quality of life. Choosing optimistic beliefs and actions bring harmony in lives. Such type of transformation is only witnessed when there is continuous emotional training which in return provides you the appropriate knowledge and skills to excel in one’s own lives. The art of living gets harder throughout the course of life. It is the ability of the individuals how they make their live into a collection of worth-living experiences. For such time of positives one much essentially creates peace within oneself. Only then it is possible to overcome any challenges in our lives.
Dr. Dean has proposed certain ways for an individual for peaceful living. These ways are applicable to the individuals and helps them to analyze how they can get into a peaceful living. Only if they understand the following conditions:
- As long as I (individual) attempt to impose what I think is right for other people, I will not find peace.
- Only when I come from a place of peace will be truly concerned about peace for other people.
- Peace is a feeling or emotion.
- I am at peace when I am without negative emotions.
- When I’m stressed, not personally empowered, or my freedom is curtailed peace is impossible to achieve.
- Peace is an inside job which I can choose for myself.
It is very significant that how you lead your life because the more optimistic you are in your life, the more is your lifespan of happiness. It is to be understood that how we feel about the world is absolutely determined by the way we chose to respond rather than what actually happens to us. Our personal belief system is very much responsible for the choice of our views on life. It is quiet common than we make judgements when those things are bad and then respond from our negative emotions, instead of thinking with peace and analyze what had happened before we responded. Here is an example which can make you understand the context better.
Ex: It is Friday night and you are on your way to home from work. You have company at home and you need some things from the store. You are running late and you really need them. You run to the shelves and get the items and go the check stand. There is only one checker working and wait people in line. As you are standing there someone cuts in front of you in line. How do you feel? Then you notice that this was an old friend you had been hoping you would see because you were really missing them. Now how do you feel? Nothing changed physically but your perception of the event itself changes.
To take this example a little further:
As you pull into the store parking lot you spot a parking spot very close to the door. As you approach it someone parks in it. Some of us merely take this as a signal that we must find different spot. Others will feel thwarted and be angry that someone has taken their spot. This ineffective behaviour may even result in their losing the only remaining available spot.
Our response comes from how we have learned to view this situation in the past. When events happen we experience what scientists call the arousal (pay attention) response. Instead of viewing situations as good or bad, we can view them as something we must pay attention to. The above example is best suited to analyse how you react at different situations. It is the same individual how he reacts at various conditions to various things. You initially tend to exhibit anger but later when you see a person whom you know, then your anger would automatically reduce as it is a human tendency to calm up anger with known people, conditions, etc. Here, one should even know the importance given to one’s own selves because never try to trigger out anger within you without analyzing the situations keenly. One can also find the similar scenario both in business and professional areas of work. Often, employees are under stress and are expected to deal with various challenges which are probably anger producing. Here, one should know how to manage his stress and in soft skills we call it as “Anger management”. It can controlled by various means such as daily practices of yoga and meditation, listening to pleasant music, spending time with positive people, leisure time with the environment can indirectly help to heal peacefully from aggressive modes.
If we no longer react with fear or anger then we can respond effectively in every situation that we face during the course of our lives. Once you feel worthy about yourself then there is always a possibility of making your life feel better in every phase of it. One should remember that, freedom to live peacefully is within one self. You are free to enjoy your life to the fullest. The greatest joy of love is to wait for each day eagerly and with much anticipation you wait for every single moment. The feeling of being competent and to handle unexpected or unfavourable challenges at any point of time adds strength to life. As an individual we flourish, as parents also we can raise our children in the most efficient and effective ways so that they grow strong and healthy psychologically and become successful adults. There would be improvisation in our relationships with our partners, children, family, and society at large. Man is a social being so he should be able to build up meaningful connections with his fellow-being. No man wants to be isolated from the society. When our life is without anger we learn to appreciate the good in others including those with whom we disagree. Therefore, he needs to be participative in order to function well in the society. But before all that, one must need to do self analyze and then work accordingly. It results in succeeding in our businesses and careers in spite of many challenges ahead. Though it is inevitable to stay away from challenges but one can work with high spirits to overcome them. (Van Leuven, 2003)
At this juncture, we need to know that the world which we imagine is ideal, our perceptions change accordingly. It is to be understood that our perceptions and desires are independent and the world works the way it is destined regardless our opinions. As we grow we tend to learn from our surroundings. Our parents, teachers, friends, family, etc play crucial role as they teach us many valuable elements in life. It is equally important that how an individual trains his/her mind to overcome the consequences during the journey of life. We frequently form expectations of how things should happen in order to fit with our own ideas irrespective of how the world works. When the situations are unfavourable in our lives we often lose our control and start giving was for negative emotions like hatred, sadness, anger, etc. In order to flourish in one’s life, one should always have the grip of handling life without anger. There are certain ways where an individual can analyze his personality, control his emotions and act according to the conditions encountered. (Van Leuven, 2011)
Soft Skills play a key role to let your mind free from intangible components of life. As the Indian texts say that the life of the mankind comprise of desires, we need to work on them to defeat the negativity in our lives and spread only the positive spirits around us. It’s high time for the mankind to set a tone for peace learning, peacemaking and peace building movements. But how do you bring peace in the world? It is expected for the human beings to think that peace should start internally. Positive emotions like love, happiness, joy, etc can accelerate your personality growth as an individual with optimism. There are certain anger management techniques which can be implemented in the daily to day activities of an individual. (Challa, 2017)
Firstly, one should indentify their own feelings, emotions and try to control them within a negotiable range. Here, we need to understand that not all times are prone to anger; some situations due to various reasons are responsible to rage anger within ourselves. With better self introspective skills one can find out the merits and demerits and response to stimulus. Whenever we feel angry, we need to practise to keep peace within our minds. For this, one can start taking deep breaths, and have a positive self-talk and eliminating all the negative thoughts from the mind. A gentle breathe can open up your mind and allows it to retain serenity. Such phrases like “Just relax”, “Take it Easy” can really work effectively to make an individual work better during tough times. Repetition of such activity will help effectively for the anger to subside.
Assertive communication is an important component which reduces stress and helps in communicating in a better possible way. Assertiveness is a skill which is regularly referred to the firmness of an individual of being social with competent communication skills. Adequate communication both personally and publicly can bring commendable change in lives of the individuals. We should train ourselves to stand up for our own as well as for others in a calm and optimistic way without giving way for aggression. This is said to be a core skill of an individual which helps to boost up self-esteem and earn others respect. Thinking and acting for the well being of others is very much essential. The world is all one and should work for the harmony of the mankind globally.
Certain self management techniques can work wonders to enhance the personality of an individual. Anger management is a skill where you learn various processes to recognize certain signs which showcase your anger. It is a prominent skill which helps in taking action to reduce the intensity of the difficulty and work with mental peace both positive and healthier.
There are three important aspects form the basis of anger management. They include assertion, empathy and stress management. Assertion being the first part to relate, it means a positive communication form which permits you to communicate a strong belief. One should gain the capability of expressing feelings like anger, anxiety, in a constructive way and pave way for sustainable relationships within oneself and with the people around us. An individual posses every right to say what they feel at a particular moment and should also know that they should respect the feelings of others even though they differ with one’s own feelings. Assertive communication is a powerful tool as it helps an individual to identify and control his/her feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, etc. It also helps in expressing such emotions in honest, direct and appropriate way which is very much needed correspond with one’s own self and others. The management of one’s own anger and anxiety are indeed necessary as they can be called as “emotional intelligence skills” which should be honed by the human beings to excel in their lives.
As we move to the next concept in anger management, it is essential to talk about empathy. It should be as an important element in everyone’s life because it makes a person understand and share the feelings of others. One should know how to understand keenly and effectively respond to the feelings and emotions which are vented out and concentrate pay attention both personally and by making an effort to hear others by accepting them no matter without being judgemental. Empathy should the prior trait of a person to state him as a skilled communicator. When we try to empathize with people we often tend to win the trust of others, are caring in nature and are genuine to rely on. Therefore, it is emotional skill for sustainable and positive relationships among the people around us. Empathy hinders aggressive behaviour as we gradually start to understand the feelings, emotions, thoughts of others which ultimately enhance the quality in holding strong relationships. When we start thinking about how others think and feel during their aggression then one can draw the negative effects of such behaviour and can even be helpful to reduce such aggressive behaviour of the individual.
Stress is something which is inevitable because stress is cause to everyone at multiple times during the course of life. Stress can be managed to a better level for proper functioning of the mind without any hassles. The reality of life is that no man can escape from stress and all that is available to man is to reduce the stress to its minimal range. Self-controlling and self-management are important fundamentals for stress management as it is defined as the learning ability and skill which helps to choose and practice it daily. Self regulation of emotional intensity is the key to manage stress at various levels of life. Stressful events are usually common but are very much unpredictable. People who excel to control their stress can witness much positive results in their lives. When anger is raised it can trigger to violence which is destructive. Stressful events should be managed in an appropriate way by using efficient skills to become competent managers of time with qualities like flexibility, self reliance, self-assurance, stability and self confident.
Anger management is not subjected only to reduce anger. It is an adaptable skill of an individual where the triggered anger is identified and responding in a calm and collected way. Anger management helps to deal with strong emotions and strengthens the ability of an individual to think with peace in mind which is beneficial to the mind. (https://www.conovercompany.com/the-three-pillars-of-anger-management/)
Here are certain adaptable tips for an individual to practice in his/her life in order to live Life Without Anger:
Exercise regularly and keep you body fit:
Physical wellness is very much essential because when a person is in stress, he/she releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline involuntarily. As stressful conditions do not occur continuously we need to train our body to be ever ready to any abrupt stressful conditions. Regular exercise can improve proper functioning of the body and regulation of hormones. Such activities can boost up the state of mind to a positive way and makes you feel good, relaxed and act with peace whenever the anger is triggered.
Have adequate sleep:
Sound sleep is always essential for proper operations of the mind. Quality sleep can help from many physical, mental and emotional problems. While we sleep sufficiently, our body and mind gets reset and rebuild, repair damaged cells and improves the thinking abilities. Plentiful hours of sleep are much needed for everyone.
Prepare yourself for challenging conversations:
If you are worried about facing challenging conversations and when you know that you would land up showing aggressive behaviour, then you need to plan yourself in beforehand which enable you not to get into unwanted side-tracks. Planning yourself how to react, respond and speak in a clam way can make a better person to handle tough situations.
Remember, Solutions are more crucial than challenges:
It is the tendency of human being to only focus on what made him/her angry. Now, it is important that one should focus on the solutions which would help to drive out negative emotions like anger and anxiety rather than focussing on the reasons which made you feel annoyed.
Be an extrovert and express yourself:
Expressing oneself is very much effective. Try to speak what you felt but in a calm manner. One should be assertive rather being aggressive while he expresses him/herself.
Never hold to hard feelings:
We should accept the fact that no individual thinks behaves or acts alike. It is impossible to control the feelings, behaviours, sentiments, beliefs and emotions of others. Thinking rationally and realistic by accepting people who they are good signs of human being. Being resentful can give way for hatred and anger. Therefore, hold no grudges as they influence the opinions which were build on people and destroy relationships in long run. Life is meant to be lived to its fullest with love, joy and caring to each other so try to carry a positive attitude irrespective of any challenges faced. (https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/anger-management.html)
After so much learning about anger management we should now be prepared to design a life without anger. Dr. Dean Van Leuven’s work is global and is applicable to anyone and anywhere at any point of time. Our journey with him taught us many significant lessons to make our lives livelier to live. We cherish every moment spent with him and we wish to disseminate his meritorious work to travel worldwide as they surely transform the lives of human beings without anger.
Dr. Dean’s journey to Visakhapatnam was most awaited time for our team. We were all excited to meet because he is a man of positivism. Not only that his company was very much wanted for all of us but his actions had multiple connotations. Superiorly, he every time smiles and conquers any kind of challenge through his course of life. We all know that most of us get annoyed if we wait for more than one hour to get the work done. We often, get disappointed if our scheduled works are cancelled. Though Dr. Dean had certain similarities of such challenges but he never gave way for disillusion. He always searched a reason to be happy at most of the times. We were astonished by his positive attitude which indirectly taught us how to deal with various elements of life. One day we asked him that when his last time was where he displayed anger. His reply to it was,” While a cat was hustling in my room, it happened to suddenly hit an object which is my wife’s memory and was only had it as a remembrance of our love”. He even added, “I was not in a literal meaning of anger but was a bit sad for losing her memory”. We were completely in utter shock thinking of how a person can take his life this much positive. His journey of life was not a cake walk. As he belonged to various professions, he had challenges to face every time during his drive. Some of them were even life-risky; every experience of his is a teaching for humankind.
One day we planned for a road trip during his first visit to Visakhapatnam, we were delighted to explain every nook and corner of the city. As he also came from a coastal city, he could easily relate and was emotionally connected with the beaches here. We happened to visit other tourist places of the City of Destiny. He never found food so difficult. Though he found, he never let way to find it tough because he relished the food every single time he had. This implies that he made himself adaptable to tough situations. How many of us could adjust ourselves in a foreign land? His responses were always inspiring, his actions were all time ideal, his attitude was every time fascinating. Few evenings with him were so relaxing to learn many new things. One day we happened to visit an old age home as he many times asked us to take him. We made him distribute fruits, biscuits and made him interact with the elders there. Our motto was to show Dr. Dean as an inspiration to many senior citizens here in our country because his works are remarkable and always strived to benefit humankind with his concept of “Life Without Anger”. During his interaction, he motivated them through his concept by asking them to be happy as much as possible and only be making oneself engrossed in interested activities as it accelerates the rate of happiness in one’s life. Though language was a barrier to communicate at the old age home, he tried his best to built good rapport by making them connect via emotions. Dr. Dean was very much satisfied while he visited and interacted at the old age home.
While we sat an evening at a nearby park, we had an opportunity to exchange various ideas and thoughts to introduce the concept of “Life Without Anger “in every possible spheres globally. As one should think global and act local, our team was in a process to frame out how this idea would be imparted to the masses. We wanted this transformation to start from ourselves; therefore, we look many possible outcomes from the trip of Dr. Dean to Visakhapatnam. We started to form a local body to work for “Life Without Anger”. Students, Professors and public who witnessed the lectures at university, reached us and proposed their interests to work collectively for this global cause. Within no time we could find people with common interests. We also translated his “Life Without Anger” into Telugu titled – “Krodha Rahitha Jeevanam”. We have also organised multiple ‘Life Without Anger’ Workshops at various Schools & Colleges.
Here, we should realize the fact that Dr. Dean who is at the age of eight-six never gave way for hatred but only focussed on the positive sides of live. Anger is just an option for every one of us. One who sees life positively will have numerous ways to be happy. When a man like Dean can work for a noble purpose even at this old age why not we take it as a challenge to spread the word of happiness? Making life without anger is in our own hands. Taking the exemplary life of Dr. Dean we need to be inspired by every single moment of his journey to the vision of Life Without Anger.
- Challa (2017). “A handbook of soft skills”, Cyberwit.net, Allahabad.
- Van Leuven (2003). “Life without anger: your guide to peaceful living”, DeVorss & Company, California.
- Van Leuven (2011). “Taking control of your life”, Xlibris, US.