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JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS - June 2016 - Kansas City
Accentuate the Positive and
Eliminate the Negative
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
The words sung by Bing Crosby in 1945 came floating into my brain as I was thinking about focusing on the positive as a way of being more mentally healthy. Eliminating or reducing the negative can happen more readily when we re-direct our thinking and actions in the direction of the positive.
Recently, several studies have indicated that the numbers of people, especially in certain age groups, suffering from anxiety and depression have increased in the last five years. The boomer generation is the group with the highest increase. We know that adolescents and senior adults are also more vulnerable groups.
Currently, the United States has less crime, more affluence, higher educational levels, and more opportunities than any other time in our history. There are problems which affect the poor and minorities disproportionately and are also impacting the middle class. We would be foolish to ignore problems but the inability to deal with change, stress, and ordinary life challenges appears to be affecting many people negatively. How can we deal with this problem constructively?
Arbor Creek Elementary School in Olathe was recently named as “Kansas City’s kindest of 2016” by Synergy Services. Synergy advocates for violence prevention measures and anti-bullying programs. The motto of the school is “Challenge the Mind, Strengthen the Heart, and Build for the Future.” The students are dealing with the problems of bullying and violence by focusing on kindness and good deeds. The students are involved in many service projects including collecting bandages with fun patterns for kids in the hospital, visiting sick and elderly people, and reaching out to students who have suffered losses. Kindness is rewarded by giving tokens to students who demonstrate this behavior. The students can keep the tokens, pass them on to others or put them in a container in the classroom. When enough tokens are gathered, they have a celebration.
This kind of approach can be so effective in reinforcing the behavior you desire, teaching habits for the future, instilling thoughtfulness and hope. Being for something is often much more productive than being against something. Another example of this is the United Nations “Declaration on a Culture of Peace” stating that “A culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions, and modes of behavior and ways of life based on…respect for life, ending of violence, and promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue, and cooperation.” From a local elementary school to a collaboration of nations there is consensus that focusing on our attitudes and values shown in a behavior of dialogue and cooperation will create a culture of peace.
Another local example of people working together for the common good is found in “Celebrating the Grandmothers of Manheim.” A very good, longtime friend of mine, Dorothy Hawkins, was recently honored with three other women in the Manheim Neighborhood. There is a large mural of the four women and St. Vincent dePaul on the side of the St. Vincent dePaul Thrift Store at 39th and Troost. Dorothy is a long-time community activist, mother of six children and many grandchildren, a Nichiren Buddhist, a KKFI radio personality, and a community resource who exemplifies collaboration and building relationships. She has overcome many hardships and challenges and is the friend I treasure, love and respect.
When we can find our own center of emotional, mental, and spiritual gravity, we will also find a peaceful, positive self with a great ability to affirm, accentuate, and live the positive as we lessen the impact of the negative. We will not have time for the blues!
Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to