Smoking Poet: Tell us about that transformative moment, or moments,
in your life. Does great change come in one moment of brilliance … or does it tend to come in phases, repeat lessons?
Kreiling: My life was transformed through several miracles, some
of which I describe in my book. Those miracles felt like sudden epiphanies, but
they were not. The transformation process takes time for all of us. The downside? If you have developed highly negative habits,
it will take time and effort to change them. The upside? After you develop highly positive habits, you will not lose them overnight either. We can’t have it both ways.
Poet: Talk to us about the nature of addiction—substance,
Kip Kreiling: This is a complicated topic. It
is hard to do it justice in a paragraph, but this is what I have learned. All
addictions are perpetuated by hijacked reward chemicals in our brain. All addictions
push pleasure buttons in our mind. All addictions require that you push the pleasure
buttons more often and for longer periods of time. In most cases, people are
trying to compensate for sources of pain in their life. Unfortunately, because
the pleasure buttons are overused, we lose the ability to experience pleasure through ordinary events, like a sunset. One of the greatest breakthroughs in neuroscience in the last 50 years is a concept
called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity means that our brains are more like molding
clay than concrete. We can reshape our brain functions through new behaviors
and thinking. We can break the programmed patterns of addiction.
Poet: An interesting section in your book tells about you as
a young man touring a communist country and getting to know something of a peer who lived behind the Iron Curtain. Tell us
about that experience.
Kip Kreiling: By this time in my life, I had learned that our ideas controlled us and that
we can change who we are by changing our ideas. I was fortunate enough to tour
East Germany right before the Berlin Wall came down. Our state-appointed tour guide (who had to be with us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) was also a college
student. Like me, she was a thinker and an idealist. She was also a devout communist
who had been taught to despise capitalist exploiters. We were the first Westerners
she had ever met. She was convinced that the only Westerners who could travel
in East Germany for several days were capitalist exploiters. When she first met us, she clearly despised us – you could
see it on her face as plain as the noon-day sun. We were the evil people that
her government was created to protect her from. Over the six days that we were
with her, she learned that we were just normal people trying to find happiness. Her
political and world view collapsed before our eyes. It was frightening to witness.
We had a particularly
poignant experience at the Berlin Wall that included a guard with a machine gun. Fortunately,
the Berlin Wall fell and we were able to meet her six weeks later in Frankfurt – her first trip outside of the Soviet
Union. In six days I saw someone completely change because their ideas changed.
Poet: What was the most difficult lesson for you to learn?
Kip Kreiling: The most difficult lesson for me to learn, and to remember, is to let people
help me. I was emotionally abandoned at an early age and learned to rely on myself. Self reliance is good, but for most of us, our greatest weakness is our greatest strength
overplayed. So it is for me, my self reliance often prevents me from getting
help from others, even when I desperately need it, which is often. Chapter six
in my book talks about how I overcame this particular problem, but I still have to work at it.
Poet: Now that you are a parent yourself, looking back, what
advice can you offer to parents when their child goes astray? What should a parent do and understand about their child?
Kip Kreiling: More than anything people want happiness.
Your children want happiness and they will ultimately follow whoever they believe can help them find it. Many parents work hard to teach their children what they believe to be correct moral principles and are
dismayed when their children violate those principles.
Look at your
own life and ask: Are you happy? Did the “right” principles you adopted
help you find happiness. If they didn’t, don’t be surprised if your
children do not follow you. This is hard medicine and it requires serious self
reflection and honesty. But, if you cannot be honest with yourself, can you be
honest with your children?
Poet: And the rest of us, parents or not, as members of a society,
what can we do to help nurture our youth? What do you see as being the main problems or obstacles in our current juvenile
Kip Kreiling: If you want to nurture youth, find happiness and show others the path that leads
to it. Many will follow. As a whole,
our justice system perpetuates and magnifies negative influences. Many people
are incarcerated for relatively minor crimes and become hardened criminals as a result of their incarceration. Justice is a foundation stone of all moral societies and punishment is often required to inhibit negative
behaviors. However, unfortunately, the system may create more criminals than
it heals. I believe I have a mission to help people who are suffering from this
particular social illness. Most people have too many other challenges or opportunities
in their life to invest energy solving this issue. Many people have been directed
to other life missions that are just as needed and as valuable, which is a great thing.
For everyone who reads this, I would only ask that you try to see a “criminal” as the great person they
can become versus the people they were.
Poet: Unless we have someone we care about in the prison system,
most of us, frankly, don’t give a cigar. Why should we care? What would you like people to understand about those in
prison? Is rehabilitation possible—at any age?
Kip Kreiling: I worked hard to make my book relevant to the general population. In fact, I have been surprised to find that the people who appreciate my book the most are people who have
reached high levels of success. The principles in my book seem to give them the
words that describe how they succeeded. Even if you do not care about people
in prison, you may find that my book is helpful for you, or for the non-criminals in your life, who are trying to find their
best self. Rehabilitation is possible at any age for all of us!
Poet: Where can our readers learn more about you and your book,
Kip? Are you doing any book tours? Working on any more books?
Readers can learn more about my book at www.KipKreiling.com and at Amazon. For those that are interested in the work I do in prisons and
other non-profit transformation work, they can learn more at www.TransformationHelp.org. I have book tours planned in Sacramento in July, Denver in August, and
Washington D.C. in September. I am planning more books but I am currently “enjoying
the moment” with this one before I start on others.
Poet: Thank you so much, Kip. You have addressed a painful yet
extremely vital topic, one that too many would like to push back into the shadows. Problems, and certainly not addictions,
never get resolved in the shadows. We commend you for your courage and wish you the best in continuing to live your message
and bring it to others.
Read Zinta Reviews on Kip's book.