By Fred Cavaiani

On Sunday, just before the playoffs for the Super-Bowl I was watching two of my granddaughters play Wii on our TV. I was waiting patiently for them to finish so I could put the game on. Watching the excitement, intensity and exuberance of this eight year old and her six year old sister as they were playing a competitive game, I began to think to myself: "what energy and exuberance these two little girls possess." They were filled with joy and excitement. And this was just after having a late breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa. With this energy channeled appropriately we could change the world into a better place.

I began to reflect on the past couple of weeks with the terror attack in France, the killings in our country, and the intense political attacks between our political parties. It is an example of energy so misplaced and displaced. All this misplaced energy results from inaccurate perceptions, preconceived viewpoints and a profound lack of the fundamental principles of living.

Exuberance, (joy and excitement) can happen when a person experiences a profound sense of love and self-respect. My granddaughters feel very loved and respected. When I am not appreciating myself and the gifts that have been bestowed upon me by birth, the love of parents, friends, spouse and relatives, I will become judgmental, critical and totally miss the point of what love is all about.

Have you ever met a person who finds it hard to share what they have with others? Have you ever attempted to become close to someone who persistently withdraws from your warmth and kindness? It can be so easy to put a wall around ourselves and then miss all the good things that keep coming toward us throughout the day. When this happens we stifle our own enthusiasm and energy. The more we keep ourselves protected from generosity and kindness toward others, the more self-centered we become. The more self-centered we become, the more energy we use up to continue to be walled off from experiencing life.

Rigid people become condemning and judgmental toward anyone who disagrees with their viewpoint. We become fearful and frightened the more we keep other people at a distance from us. The more condemning and judgmental we become toward others and institutions the more tense we become. Terror attacks happen because people have grown up out of fear and insecurity and have been taught to view anyone who thinks differently as an enemy who will harm or kill them.

Rigidity in religion stifles joy. Insistence on rules and regulations coming before compassion, kindness and love represses positive energy and love. Religions and politics originally were meant to free people from harm and domination. Instead so many religions or denominations and political parties seem to be trying to dominate people. And when these same religions or political parties or governments ask their members to bring compassion and help to the world, some rule seems to get in the way. Exuberance again gets stifled.

If you would like to feel free and celebrate life in a joyful manner, take some quiet time each day for gratefulness for what you have. Remember how many people in the world do not have what you possess. Freedom can only become open and wide when there is gratitude, compassion and generosity in politics and in religion.

As I looked at my granddaughters joyfully celebrating life I began to think, what would stifle their excitement and compassion? If I yelled at them, criticized them, refused to listen to their needs and desires, kept lecturing them and telling them they were too loud, and tried to get them to do things out of fear and intimidation, this would totally stifle their joy and enthusiasm about life.

Yet how often as adults do we stifle other people by our condemnations, critical remarks, and preconceived ideas of how they must be.

Exuberance, enthusiasm and joy in life will result when we create an atmosphere of acceptance, kindness and generosity. Rules are meant to be guidelines for fostering these qualities. When they stifle these qualities they need to re-examined or changed. We need to embrace each other with care, compassion and understanding. By the way, our granddaughters love each other very much. That is why they are filled with energy.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. Fred serves on the Oakland County Senior Advisory Council. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Jan 20, 2015


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