Monday, December 13, 2010

I Can't Take It Any More

I Can't Take It Any More
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
- Leo Buscaglia, American author, motivational speaker, "Dr. Love" (1924-1998)

When someone has the power to change lives, to make others feel as if their lives have been saved and are much improved, that person deserves attention.
To me, Leo Buscaglia was "the Hug Doctor." He hugged everyone. Even other men did not feel threatened as Leo's infectious smile convinced them that they wanted to be hugged by him. He made others want to hug each other.
My father introduced me to Leo Buscaglia through the latter's many PBS specials. It shocked me when my father first hugged me after seeing Dr. Buscaglia. As a young man who played competitive hockey in a violent league, my father was more apt to fight (even to need police protection because of it) than to hug. As a father he avoided hugging me as he preferred hugging a liquor bottle.
My father didn't know how to hug, had no idea how important touch was to a child. A fatherless child himself, he didn't know much about parenting.He had given up alcohol at age 65. He started hugging after he saw Leo. My father came to like hugging. I came to believe that he was a pretty good guy after all. Before he retired he was just the man who came home for supper and naps. Not for hugging.
That sequence of events is important. From Leo I learned that everyone likes to be hugged. As I studied the subject more, I began to understand how important touch is to people. Strange as it may sound to those unfamiliar with the subject, loving touch (hugging is a prime example) is the way we measure love.
We may not know for sure what love is, though everyone wants it, and most of us don't know how to measure love or how to give it in such as way that the message of love will be accepted and understood. Now you do. Give it with a smile, by holding hands, by dancing, with flowers, any way you like. Just make sure you back up your message with loving touch.
It doesn't
really matter what kind of touch so long as it's understood as loving by both people. As the Nike ads say, just do it. Something deep inside us tells us that the people who love us most touch us most.What does hugging have to do with worry, the core of the quote? Quite a bit, as you will see.
Worry has no positive side. It's all negative. Worry has never solved anything, but it has destroyed lives and relationships. What's more, people worry mostly about things that never happen. It's like an addiction. How can a person stop worrying if he or she is a worrying kind of person?
How about a hug? No one can give and receive a decent hug and worry at the same time. But hugs last only a few seconds, so how can a person stop themselves from resuming their ingrained habit of worrying?
One hug will not suffice for anyone. Eighteen a day will. Every day. (What? Is he joking?) If you can't imagine hugging someone you love 18 times every day, you need other forms of loving touch to substitute in for the hugs you can't perform.
You will find it extremely hard to worry when someone you love and who loves you hugs you or touches you in a loving way 18 times every day.
Can't fit that in? Can't imagine someone who loves you finding time? That's like saying you can't find time to put gas into your car. You can find time if it matters. Love matters, at least if you want to keep it.Do you have trouble coping with your problems sometimes? Maybe most of the time? The biggest part of a coping deficit is confusion. The easiest way to alleviate confusion in your life is to have lots of love in it. How do you get that? Right, hugging and loving touch. (See? You have been paying attention.) Your mind will be better prepared to cope with problems in your life if it doesn't get bogged down in its search for love.
Your mind will be clear and your problems seem small if you don't feel a lack of love. And how will you know if you have enough love in your life? For one thing, you won't be worrying about your problems. For another, you will feel loved.
Yes, it really is that simple.Leo Buscaglia was loved by everyone he knew. At least by everyone he hugged. And who hugged back. I have seen two documentaries that showed two women who lived alone, in different cities (they may both have been widows) who knew they needed hugs but could no longer get them in the way they formerly could. Each one went out onto a main street in their city and asked total strangers if they wanted a hug. In each case, more than half of the strangers said they did want a hug. They got one. None complained. Some came day after day for more helpings.Love, hugging, lack of worry and having the ability to cope with our problems all help our immune systems to function at their best. Studies have shown that immune systems are compromised by worry over problems and lack of love.
How do you get love if you don't have enough or someone to give you more hugs? Love has a secret. Just as hugging requires at least two people, love works best with two or more. However, while a hug usually requires equal participation by all parties, love does not. Give love and you will get back more than you gave. You may not get back more from everyone, but the extra from some will more than make up for it.
Who should you give your love to? Turn it around and ask yourself if you would refuse an offer of love from anyone. Sometimes love is shown simply by caring for others. Care for someone who has no one to care for them.
Care about others who need your help. They will perceive it as love. You will feel good.
Now go and practice what you have learned. Just do it.
Prove to yourself that it works.Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, teachers and anyone who wants to learn the basics of what everyone should know about life.
Learn more at

Monday, December 06, 2010

Grandpa Said A Naughty Word

Grandpa Said A Naughty Word

[My young daughter] Sophie was sitting on my lap at Grandpa's the other day. As Grandpa was talking to Grandma, he says "Oh, I hate that goddamn show." Sophie looks up at me and whispers, "Ooooh, Grandpa said HATE... that's a naughty word!"
- David Lauer, American father and advocate for good parenting

Four-year-old Sophie had no idea of the significance of her simple heart-felt observation. Her father may have, or he may have thought of the irony of what she said as funny. Sophie's words were hugely important and I will explain why.

First let me take you back many years to a family gathering in Canada. Three generations had gathered for a family dinner on a Sunday evening. The grandson listens to the conversation quietly--having nothing to contribute anyway--as the custom then was for children to be "seen but not heard." The boy has nothing else to do but listen and learn.

The grandmother told stories that took place in the Great Depression, which was not long past. Grandmother and grandfather had survived the Depression in comfort as they owned property as well as a bakery and a grocery store. The grandmother told of many incidents where people without money or food would come to the grocery store asking for handouts. Each was given something.

One feature of most stories was an observation about the cleanliness of the people coming into the store to beg for food. They were usually not clean, the grandmother observed, neglecting to mention whether or not these people might have had access to soap and water, or even a place to live. The child, having no reference other than his own personal experience, thought there must be many dirty people around. He always had access to water and soap.

One story involved a man with dark skin, unusual in those days in a basically all-white city. When grandmother tucked "dirty" and the "N-word" into a sentence in passing, the young grandson exploded. "Oh, Nana, shut up" is all he said. He knew the words of his grandmother hurt someone who could not defend himself. He knew enough to say no more and knew he could not take back what was already out and festering.

The lad was severely reprimanded, isolated from the others present at the time and promised further punishment when the younger family got home. The "sin" had been the boy telling his grandmother to shut up, not the grandmother's expression of racism. Apparently, in that setting and that time, telling a racist relative to shut up was the greater offence. Especially if one of the offenders was a child. And the other a financial benefactor to the younger family.

The grandmother, I should mention--my own grandmother--never again expressed a word that was racist or prejudiced. I can't remember if I was punished at home later, but it would not have mattered to me. I could not listen to prejudice as if it didn't matter, even as a young lad. I felt hurt by words intended to hurt others.

Why? My parents never said or taught me anything about racism or prejudice. My only entertainment in those days was the radio. In the mid-1940s, after the Second World War and before his untimely death, I heard many audio clips of Mohandas Gandhi, fondly known by almost everyone as "The Mahatma" (Great Soul). Gandhi, born into a Hindu family, grieved as untold numbers of Hindus and Muslims died at each others hands during the migrations between India and Pakistan at the time of independence from Britain. However, he managed single handedly to prevent more slaughter than the Brits could ever avoid by speaking words of peace to the Muslims of Bengal.

The Mahatma was a man of peace, a man who put his life on the line many times in the cause of peace, understanding and respect among all people. I learned more from Gandhi than I did from my biological father. His words guided my life when my parents provided no words of guidance. Gandhi was the parent I learned from as a young child and that learning shaped who I became and what I did with my life.

Someone taught Sophie well. She knew, without thinking, that even using the word "hate" was wrong, while never giving a thought to her grandfather's "taking the Lord's name in vain." While there is virtually no evidence that "the Lord" would take offence at the grandfather's statement, the books that profess to express the Lord's wishes all say that hatred is wrong.

More significantly, Sophie had been taught this life lesson about values and mutual human respect before she was old enough to begin her formal education. That lesson will shape her life.

Someone was parenting right. Note also from the quote that Sophie was on her father's lap. Touching (the loving kind) is another critically important experience in a parent-child relationship. Not only is she receiving good parenting today, she will pass these good skills along to her children when that time arrives. She will "pay it forward" and never realize why. Many will benefit later, though few will know the background story as you do.

My friends, this is the kind of good news, of world-saving news, that our news media never report. This small incident happened in one American household. It is likely happening also in many, many more. The world needs to know.

You know these lessons about parenting. Pass them on. Kids learn about life from the people they live with before they ever begin school. Schools are not empowered or directed to teach life lessons. Young adults need to know this. They need us to do what we can to teach them.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers about what and when to teach children to assist with their social and emotional development as well as their intellectual and physical development.
Learn more at