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Today's Date -- July 24, 2008
Debt Relief for the Hidden Costs of Excuses
People lose their homes because they made foolish purchases they couldn’t afford, but we blame greedy lenders or the government for insufficient regulation. The price of gas is going out of sight, but many of us won’t blame Congress for restricting oil exploration or ourselves for driving gas guzzler vehicles. When our kids don’t do well in school, we blame “government” schools or the teachers. The poor blame their poverty on the rich. If we don’t advance in our careers, it’s our boss’s fault. If we get divorced, it’s the spouse’s fault. American prisons are stuffed with criminals, but many Americans say prisoners are victims of racism or the justice system.
Check any news outlet, on any day, and you will always find somebody in the news making excuses and placing blame in the wrong places. How did we come to this? How did we develop a culture of knee-jerk blaming the victim and excusing the villain? I think the cause emanates from an excuse-making character flaw in a growing number of Americans. We even make excuses for others because it relieves our guilt over our own flaws. Some people recognize that as “political correctness.”
Dr. Bill Klemm, a prominent university neuroscientist at Texas A&M University, tackles these issues head on in his provocative new book, Blame Game. How To Win it. The focus is on “debt relief” for the hidden costs of making excuses. He lays out a five-step program for playing the blame game to win. Klemm advocates a five-step character development program that helps readers to:
recognize when excuses are being made.
clinical psychologist, Dr. Bob Rich, calls Klemm’s book “a manual for living
the good life,” and says the book “combines common-sense advice and sound
scientific evidence.” He says the book “combines findings from many relevant
fields, especially psychology,” … “presented in easy-to-understand, plain
language.” Radio/TV celebrity psychologist, “Dr. Laura” Schlesinger says she
“absolutely loves this book,” because it shows that positive personal change
is so achievable. Dr. Robert Schuler, syndicated TV minister and founder of
Crystal Cathedral, says the book “will help people solve their personal
problems and achieve their dreams.”
Make A Lot Of Excuses?
Today's Date -- Thursday, July 10, 2008
From "the dog ate my homework" to "I don't vote because it won't matter" to "I have test anxiety and don't do well on tests." People love to make excuses. Sound familiar?
Texas A&M University neuroscience professor Bill Klemm calls it "the blame game," and making excuses is the subject of his recent book, The Blame Game, and How To Win It, now available in book stores.
Klemm explains that the book is a school-of-hard-knocks, life's-lessons-learned-the-hard way manual that represents a sort of university-of-life approach,“ one where honesty with yourself and common sense can go a long way.
The book has drawn praise from radio host Laura Schlessinger, who "absolutely loves this book," and Robert Schuller, the renowned pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in California, who recommends the book, saying "it will help people solve their personal problems." A clinical psychologist calls the book a "manual for living the good life."
"Any time you make an excuse, it should raise a red flag with you," says Klemm, who makes no excuses for turning 74 recently. An excuse points to something that needs to be fixed. If you don't realize you are making an excuse, you haven't solved the problem;“ it's still there."
Klemm, who has written 12 books and more than 450 scholarly articles, offers a five-step plan to beat the blame game and making excuses, which he believes has developed into a national pastime.
Klemm says excuses perpetuate unhappiness. Things that cause us to make excuses tend to make us unhappy. Fixing the cause of the excuses can fix the unhappiness, he contends. "For most people, happiness is a matter of choice," he believes." If you don't believe it, I could never say it better than a friend said after losing her husband after many years of marriage. She said, "I choose to be happy and appreciate what I have, not what I lost." Klemm says, "That one line inspires me a lot and I am learning to restore my own happiness after the recent loss of my wife Doris after 49 years of marriage."
One area in which people use the blame game often: education. As U.S. students continue to under-perform compared to Asian and European students, the public tends to blame school teachers, the school system or even the government. "Does anybody ever blame the students and their parents?" Klemm writes. "To blame teachers or schools for student failure is a disservice to all. Learning is the responsibility of students (and their parents). This misplaced blame is crippling public education."
Klemm says some people excuse their problems because they believe they are victims. “The poor feel victimized by the rich, the sick feel victimized by their illnesses and some people blame their own biology, believing they are not pretty enough, tall enough or smart enough. Lawyers today make a career out of this:“they want people to sue so they can shift the blame," he adds. "Again, it's a way of making excuses and passing the blame away from yourself. That's why lawyers invented no-fault divorces."
That's not to say people won't make mistakes: everyone will, and everyone does, Klemm notes. "A wise man will tell you to learn from your mistakes. A wiser man will advise you to learn from the mistakes of others," he says. Some people go through life making one mistake after another. Solving troubles in life requires you to be aware of what is going on, what you are doing wrong, why you keep getting into trouble, and what you need to change to get your game straightened out. Abe Lincoln said it best when he remarked, "People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be," Klemm observes.
Happiness is one way to beat stress, a prime contributor to the blame game, Klemm adds. "Humor takes our minds off of ourselves and purges negative emotions from the brain," he notes. It may be no accident that many comedians have long lives, such as Milton Berle (93 years), Bob Hope (100), Henny Youngman (92) and George Burns (100).
"When it comes down to it," he points out, "excuses are like fig leaves: they cover up things we don't want people to see."