Transform your child’s behavior by Changing yourself


There are literally thousands of books available all over the world on parenting which play an extremely important role in helping mothers and fathers do their life’s most crucial work in positive ways.   Several years ago I started experimenting with the radical idea that if I changed my own self, then my children and others would also change.  As I am writing the words in the above sentence, I am thinking that it sounds like a cliche, but I have also found that the focus on parenting and education is usually on the child and not on the transformation of the parents themselves.

The first thing I had to discipline myself to do, which turned out to be the most difficult, was that when someone annoyed me by their actions, to realize that the problem was mine and not theirs.  After all I was the one being annoyed, not them.  I decided that I would only focus on their positive qualities, ignore the negatives, and then work extremely hard to change myself.   Surprise, surprise.  All of my relationships improved remarkably especially with my children.

I can say quite assuredly that when I made that decision, even though I wasn’t able to completely live it for lack of self discipline, it changed everything.   Why does it work?

When your child is misbehaving, according to you, like when he suddenly lets out a scream at the dining room table or regresses two years in his eating manners, his behavior is just that and nothing more.   When I get angry at the behavior,  it means that I am suddenly regressing and losing my self discipline.    I know that this principle is hard to swallow because parents are like gods to children, but if you can get used to the idea that your child’s behavior is a reflection of your own lack of self discipline or whatever other virtue you are seeking to change in them, then the change in them will proceed much faster.

The question to ask ourselves is this.  How can I develop more self discipline? (if that is the weakness the child is showing)  If your child is full of fear, the question is related to finding more courage in yourself, not them.   If you want your child to dive into a swimming pool, with no fear, then you have to be willing to dive into something new with no fear.

Usually when you make the change, the negative behavior in the child goes away instantly or the solution to how to assist the child develop new capacities becomes clear to you.

This past year I was teaching physical education to 5 year olds.  I have a lot of years of teaching experience so I rarely need to make any lesson plans, but the big lesson plan I make everyday is that of analyzing the children’s behavior, checking to see how that makes me feel, and then changing my negative emotions into positive virtues.   Almost instantly a solution to the problem I am having in the class shows up in my mind and when I apply it, it works.    I have been working as an educator for over 30 years now and I can tell you that the number one topic of every teacher in every school where I have ever taught is how to develop more self discipline in children, but I have almost never heard the teachers describe their own lack of self discipline as an issue.

Debby, my wife, and I now have 3 wonderful grandchildren.   We live by a simple principle. Bite your tongue and change yourself.   The worse our tongues feel, the more change we need to make in ourselves.   When our tongues have huge teeth marks, it means that we have a lot to change in ourselves.

Joy dream part 2


So I was talking about my dream to Debby, my wife, (the dream with dancing) and she said that she had a dream with Kurt’s wife, Delane, and in her dream she ended up dancing as well. We both had it the same night, probably at the same time. There is no way to explain this phenomenon if you believe like many people that we are physical beings with a large brain. Don’t you think it is time that we gave into the belief that we are spiritual beings who inhabit a body from time to time? If Debby and I can have a dream at the same time which has a similar structure and content even though we are asleep and unconscious, then what new dreams in waking life can we accomplish consciously that we have heretofore disregarded?

The door appears to be wide open.

Recovering Joy Dream

The dream:  I am in a school, the principal of the school is leaving for another job as a professor at a famous University, and Kurt Hein, my ex-colleague is arguing on my behalf to get me in as the new principal.  Kurt is very emphatic about my skills, but the decision to hire someone else has already been made.  I am left out.  The principal seems apologetic, but Kurt is very unhappy with the way the decision is made.  The next thing I know is that I am in an open square dancing with a huge amount of joy.  It is so ecstatic.

The analysis: One of the most important aspects of analyzing a dream besides the obvious dissecting of the symbols is to look at the structure of the dream outside of its content.   The structure of the dream gives you the entire emotional and behavioral pattern that you are facing.  Structure is just as, if not more important, than content.  In this dream the first section ends in a feeling of being excluded, but the entire dream ends in great joy.  The sequence is first a negative and then a positive.   I am excluded, then I am in great joy.

The transformation principle in dream work is simple.  You remember and enhance positives so that they can be utilized in your life, and you change negatives so that  they become positives.   When you already have a positive in a dream, it means that the energy is available to you right now if you can just remember it in a way that will allow it to work.   In this case the virtue I am called on to remember is that of joy represented in the dance.    If there were no negatives in the dream, it would signify that the joy would be immediately available, but in this dream the negatives precede the positives.  The negatives happen first and then the positives happen.  The goal is to have both sides of the dream become positive so that I can dance my life away in great joy.


Kurt is one of the great colleagues of my career.  We worked for 8 years together at the Maxwell International Baha’i School on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.   We worked side by side.  Kurt is trying to advocate for me in the dream to be the head of the elementary school, but it doesn’t work.  The decision has already been made to hire someone else behind closed doors so I am left out.

Kurt, is a symbol of the part of me that advocates for myself.  This is the part of me that recognizes my gifts and abilities and then puts them out there for others to see.   I think that what the dream is saying is that the part that advocates for me is not the problem because the advocacy is very strong.  The part of me that is like Kurt, that recognizes talents and then advocates to utilize them, is in tact.  Despite having talents and being advocated for, I am still excluded because the decision making process is made behind closed doors.  The feeling I am left with is that of being left out.   This means that the work is the ability to deal with the feeling of being left out.

If the process of the decision making had been been fair and the result the same, then the issue for me would be to develop some new administrative qualities that I don’t have, but as the process was held behind closed doors in secrets, it means that the decision had nothing to do with my qualifications, but was tainted by impure motives of self interest.   Yet I am left excluded.

Up until that  time in my career with Kurt, where we were both fired together in a process that was largely secretive, I had always advanced through the hard work of acquiring new capacities.  At the point of the origin of the dream energy I began to experience the much larger reality of how most of the world actually operates, that is, excluding through self interest.   This was like a big shock to me, and a big eye opener, that fairness as a virtue is largely non-existent in the world.  The experience of being fired and excluded behind closed doors awakened me to a reality for which I had a lot of naivety.   Even great advocacy is not helpful when the process is ruled by self interest.
What then is the solution to exclusion based upon unfairness if advocacy does not work?  Most of the world tries advocacy, but the leaders we have prove how ineffective it is.   Clearly advocacy is not the solution because Kurt is already doing it and I am still being excluded.  The decision making powers behind the closed doors do not act on the basis of fairness.

What is the solution?  If I am being shut out by unfairness and left with exclusion, then the solution is to include myself where the door is wide open.  The dream already tells me that I have  great joy represented in the dance, so joy and energy are not things I have to work on.  What I need to find is the open door and then include myself in it with great joy.  This is the solution.   Being an elementary principal is closed because the processes are secret and impure, but there is another door that  is wide open.  Obviously being excluded took away the joy that I had associated with work so the dream is reminding me to reopen it in the  door that is open.   The school administrative door is closed, but another door is open.

The Mathematics of Change

For those of you who are math freaks and want a formula for change, here it is. This formula works

4 (+ackns) + 1 (-listneg) + 1 (flipw/plan) + x(grndrule)= rchange


1. 4(+ackns) = 80% positive acknowledgments of qualities, actions, virtues already done. Notice how high the % is. Almost all failure is a result of underestimating the amount of acknowledgment needed.

2. 1(-listneg)= listening non-judgmentally to your own or someone else’s issues. Mostly reflective listening, lots of paraphrasing so that the issue is clear.

3. 1(flipw/plan) =Solution to the issue which is a 180 flip of the current negative pattern internally and externally. e.g. flip from running away from a fear by avoiding to running toward a positive goal fully. Plan always releases the positive energy to start acting.

4. x(grndrules) = ethical and moral ground rules that serve as boundaries like fidelity in marriage, not using material substances to deal with issues, not stealing, not using power in an abusive way.

Almost everyone in the entire world has problems with number 1. It is much more important than you think. More to come later. Radical Change the book is soon to be published.

Why Airasia? The Big Shift


Airasia is a low cost airline that provides services all throughout SE Asia. Last year 9 of us in our family flew to Langkawi from KL for about $220 USD. That’s $220 altogether. We have flown to Thailand three times, to Bali, to Jakarta, and Hanoi all in one year. The planes have almost always been full. When we flew to Vancouver this past week from KL on a big carrier, United, I noticed some things that I hadn’t given eye to before. United puts out a red carpet for people in first class and business class and gives them a special gate. I just started to wonder about a question as I gazed on the red carpet that no one was using. Are we, the low-cost travelers, the ones who are paying for the red carpet? Think about it. Do the first class travelers really pay for the first class treatment? Corporate travelers are already getting a big discount and one of those seats takes the space of about 2-4 economy seats. When you consider that they have their own lines that cost more to service per person and more than twice the space, it should become pretty obvious that we are paying for a good percentage of their ride.

A few years ago Bali suffered 2 bombings that really devastated their tourist economy. When we talked to our hotel manager, who happened to be a Canadian that was adored by all of his staff, he said that it was only because of Airasia that the tourist industry has begun to pick up again. Why have they been able to revive the market where big carriers have failed?

Everyone knows that the further away you are from a disaster, the worst it seems. The people in the region know that about Bali, that it is not a dangerous place, so when Airasia began offering low- cost flights, the economy picked up.

So what does all this mean? The rich are charging you, the middle class, for their luxury. This is why you can’t stop video piracy in Asia. No one in their right mind believes that we should be paying for Tom Cruise’s salary. It is just so over-the-top for what he is worth. Come on, let’s get real.

The lesson from Airasia should be quite clear. The middle class is on the rise. Watch out Hollywood. The Airasia of the movie industry is coming.

Hmmm. Where will we travel this year that we couldn’t afford before? India? Cambodia?

Traveling through Airports


I first began traveling in planes in the late 1960s during the height of the Vietnam War. Security was so light, even in wartime, that you used to be able to board the plane by arriving at the airport 10 minutes prior to take off, rush to the plane, and even pay for the ticket on board. This was wartime. The stewardesses were friendlier and the airlines were more generous in those days with food. Here we are 40 years hence. Nowadays, in some airports, you have to arrive 3 hours before your flight, you can’t even take a bottle of water on board, and they practically strip search you before you are allowed to step onto the plane. I am not saying that the security measures are not necessary. I am sure, for instance, that theft in airports has decreased as a result of tighter security and this can be seen as a positive, but I wonder if there is another strategy to stop terrorism and promote peace that we haven’t yet discovered. We know from the lessons of history that the embrace of our former enemies is inevitable. Is it possible that because our focus is so much on stopping terrorism with tighter security that we may be overlooking the processes that will bring us together with our terrorist enemies? There is an interesting film out now called “Breach” which is the story of how the FBI discovered a man within its own organization that was selling secrets to the enemy, the former Soviet Union. What I found remarkable about the film was that long after the US and the former Soviet Union had become peacetime allies; he was still selling secrets to the Russians. He was actually convicted not when the Soviets were our enemies, but when we had already embraced them as allies. His crimes, no doubt deserved great punishment, which he received, but there is a kind of irony in his capture. We are spending billions of dollars each year around the world for tighter security to protect us during our travels, but how much do we spend on the equally important processes that would accelerate the embrace of our enemies. What are the core activities that accelerate embracing people as our friends that could compliment the function of governments to protect is citizens from criminals and terrorists and how can we do both at the same time?

Reflections on 40 years: Letters to Iwo Jima


I was recently in the Bangkok Airport at a bookstore when a sudden desire to read something on history overcame me; so I picked up the book, Letters from Iwo Jima, which has now been transformed into a film by Clint Eastwood. It came as no coincidence to me that at just about the time that I finished the book, I was flying over the same island on the way to Tokyo. This book recounts the story of the battle for Iwo Jima during World War 2 mainly through the letters of the commander of Japanese forces who defended the island. 40 years after the bloodshed in which both sides suffered over 20,000 casualties some of the survivors from both sides gathered again on the island, this time in peace, to commemorate the battle. The first moments of their reunion were warm, and yet somewhat reluctant each wondering perhaps how the other side was feeling, but soon the former enemies embraced each other as if they were life long friends.
Right now I am writing this post in Tokyo, my country’s former enemy, and I cannot help but ask myself the question that has become like a mantra to me. If the soldiers from both sides would have known 40 years prior that they would one day embrace, how would that fact have changed their behavior? The possibility of an eventual embrace existed before the war, but it took the courage and sacrifice of so many men from both sides and then an additional 40 years until it could be realized. It can only mean one thing to me which must be regarded as haunting to all of us. Having peace and embracing the current enemies like Al-Qaeda is already a reality in the future. Is it necessary to have to fight and shed needless blood for the eventual embrace to occur? What do I need to do now to accelerate the embrace of my country’s enemies? I am certain about one process that I can do. I can look into the future and see the possibility that few people seem to be seeing, that is, that we will embrace our enemies. Even history proves this fact. I don’t think it means that I can rush in and embrace someone who is intent on destroying my life anymore than Japanese and American soldiers could have embraced during World War 2, but I know that because the embrace is sure to happen in the future, there must be a set of core activities that will accelerate its happening faster.

Note: The picture above are 3 young Muslim boys who Debby and I met in Phuket last October. Do they look like terrorists to anyone?

Reflection on Radical Change


The woman in the picture above is a grandmother in the northern hill tribe region of Vietnam. Debby and I stayed overnight in her house one evening during our treks in that region. Now if you were a young person growing up in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s, as I was, the thought of spending a peaceful evening with a villager in Vietnam may not have ever entered your consciousness. Today some 30 years hence, the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam has undergone a radical change. The question I have to ask myself as I reflect on my experience with this beautiful grandmother is this. What would I have done different in my life back then had I known that I would be eating stir fry and drinking tea with this wonderful woman some 30 years after? Perhaps I could have had tea with her much earlier. Over 3 million Vietnamese lost their lives in their conflict with Americans. Everyone you meet in Vietnam has been affected directly by the war. Our guide’s father was handicapped for life after 10 years of fighting, but we managed to become close friends with the guide. If we know that peace is coming even with once bitter enemies, how can that change our relationships with others right now? Can we accelerate radical change? Whoever is your enemy right now will one day be your friend. Think about it. I have a lot of work to do to change my enemies to friends. I guess I need to see them as I see the grandmother drinking tea with me. I have much work to do because keeping enemies seems so tantalizing and for sure it is much easier.