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Choose Wisely: How Our Words Impact Others

When it comes to living an altruistic lifestyle, a lot can be said for what we say. As author Yehuda Berg states, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity… Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” The words we choose and how we use them can build others up or tear them down; bring the community together or rip it apart.

Our words are powerful, and should be treated with respect. So how do our words impact others, and how can we choose them wisely? Today, we’re going to find out.

Your words have meaning.
The greatest mistake we can make is believing our words have no value in other people’s lives. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and, for whatever reason, can still remember it practically verbatim years down the road? Now consider a similar conversation in someone else’s life: your words could be the ones they have in their head.

The words we choose mean something. Whether that meaning is positive or negative is up to you. If you want to live altruistically and make an impact in the world, try starting with the daily words you choose. How do you talk to others, to yourself, to your superiors, to your inferiors? When we recognize the value our words have, we take the first step in bettering our community.

Your words are remembered.
If words have meaning, then they are definitely remembered. Consider the child in class whose teacher tells him he’s never going to be as good of a student as his older sister. This comment, which could mean nothing to the teacher, will always be remembered by the child.

In contrast, think of the child whose teacher tells him how much she believes in him. Even a simple comment can forever make an impact—either uplifting or defeating. To live an altruistic life is to recognize our words aren’t just for today; they’re for every day after today. What you say now could be remembered for years to come, so choose carefully.

Your words make a difference.
Words. Are. Powerful. Think of powerful words throughout history which have had a lasting difference in our world. “Four score and seven years ago.” “I have a dream.” “Tear down this wall.” Our words, when chosen correctly, can make a positive contribution in our own lives and the lives of those around us.

Words filter through us and seep into our community, where they are absorbed then reasserted by others to people they know. When we recognize the power our words have, we see the impact they can have and we choose them based on what kind of difference we want to make.

Speak with mindfulness.
So how can we choose our words wisely? By being mindful of those we use and the effect they have. Mindfulness is more than just thinking before speaking. It’s recognizing the people around us and promoting a more compassionate society through our language choice.

Rather than speaking out emotionally and uncontrollably on any issue, mindfulness means giving careful consideration and thought to how your words could impact others. It means recognizing poor language choice and readjusting to live a more loving life.

To live altruistically means to first speak altruistically. The words you choose in your life have meaning; they are remembered; they make a difference. When we recognize the power our words have, we can harness that power to be a force for good in the community around us.

When we speak with mindfulness, we create a more positive and altruistic world. So go ahead, get out there, and choose wisely.

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How to Respond with Kindness in Times of Darkness

2017 is here, and we can now look back on the past year with appreciation and gratitude. 2016 was a great year, but of course there were some difficult times—times of hardship, times of grief and times of tragedy.

When bad things happen, how do we act individually, and how can we come together as a society? How can we be kind in times of darkness? Today we’re going to talk about just that, and how we can continue to live altruistically when facing heart-wrenching times.

1. Practice empathy.
The number one thing to remember when responding to times of darkness is empathy. Empathy can be difficult when those affected by hardship are far away, look different than us or even have entirely different cultures than us.

But empathy—and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes—crosses all boundaries, unites us and helps us to remember that no matter what happens, none of us have to go through it alone. Notice that we say empathy, and not sympathy. Sympathy says, “I’m sorry this is happening to you,” while empathy says, “Help me understand what is happening to you.” Practicing empathy in times of tragedy not only helps those suffering, but helps you grow as well.

2. Listen to others.
How can we be empathetic to the plight of others? By listening. Listening is different from hearing. We oftentimes hear what other people say, but don’t actually register what they’re thinking, what they mean or what they want to happen.

We can respond to times of darkness by listening to those involved, even if it means listening to people we may not always agree with. Listening acknowledges someone’s feelings as valid, and invites them into a conversation, creating a more altruistic dialogue, rather than an argument.

3. Give gratitude.
When we see terrible things happening in the world around us, it is important to remember to be grateful for the wonderful things we do have in the world and in our individual lives. A little gratitude goes a long way in living an altruistic lifestyle.

Gratefulness shows that you recognize negative situations around you, and you choose to find joy in the positives instead. When we practice gratitude, we have a kinder outlook on life overall and create a more altruistic lifestyle.

4. See how to help.
If you feel inclined and it’s possible, see how you can help in difficult situations. If there’s been a specific tragic event, see if there’s anything you can do to support the victims’ families. If there’s a situation that’s been going on for a long time, see about donating to a charitable organization, or volunteering your time to make a difference. No matter what it is, any impact you can make in the lives of those suffering creates a more loving world overall.

5. Remember perspective.
Finally, remember that for every time of darkness there is also a time of light. When tragedy strikes, embrace kindness by keeping perspective. This is not the end; this is not the worst thing ever; there is still a future. Don’t dismiss difficult times, but embrace the potential for good after the period has passed.

2016 did have times of grief, and no doubt 2017 will as well. But if we remember to stand for kindness, both individually and as a society, we can continue to live a more altruistic lifestyle, and to support those who need our help.

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11 Families Receive Holiday Gifts from Macy’s Partnership

For the second year in a row, the worldwide fashion retailer Macy’s Inc. has partnered with Brain Injury Services to provide over $6,000 in holiday gifts to 11 families of our Pediatric Department. By donating toys, tech gadgets, and clothes to the families, Macy’s stores, from all around the Northern Virginia area, have once again demonstrated their passion for giving back to local charity.

Last year one of Brain Injury Services’ staff members connected with Macy’s regional manager Claire Hamilton at a job fair. The relationship began with Macy’s and Ms. Hamilton’s willingness to partner with us in the hiring of a client through our Supported Employment Program. As our relationship grew with Ms. Hamilton, we learned about ways Macy’s gives back to its communities. It was only a matter of time before we were able to share with Ms. Hamilton the needs of our pediatric families and how their holiday giving program could make an impact.

Working with Macy’s last year was a remarkable experience, so we were grateful to hear that Macy’s was interested in doing the gift campaign again for our pediatric families. Director of Community Engagement at Brain Injury Services Michelle Thyen said, “Connecting with Macy’s again this year was such a privilege. We are honored that they chose to work with our pediatric families during another holiday season. We are blown away by their generosity!”

In celebration of this year’s gift donation, Macy’s employees were invited to Brain Injury Services’ ADAPT Clubhouse for a gift wrapping party! At the party, Macy’s employees worked with ADAPT Clubhouse members to make sure each gift was perfectly wrapped. Once the gifts were ready, volunteers from First Coast Security generously took their time to deliver the presents to the 11 families.

Brain Injury Services looks forward to a continued partnership with Macy’s and First Coast Security! The collaboration between these organizations and Brain Injury Services continues to yield a stronger and healthier community. This year’s contribution is another example of a win-win partnership for all.

We give a huge thank you to Claire Hamilton and the other staff from the Northern Virginia Macy’s locations for making this event a success.

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January is National Blood Donor Month

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States is in need of life-saving blood every two seconds. While medical advances have increased rapidly, there is still no substitute for the power source that runs through our veins. And although an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10% actually does.

January is an especially difficult time for people to donate blood because of challenging weather conditions, post-holiday buzz and winter illnesses. However, giving blood this time of the year is crucial, as the national blood supply often runs dangerously low.

Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor Month: a time to pay tribute to those who already donate, recognize the life-saving attributions of blood donations and encourage others to add save a life to their New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re still not sure if donating blood is the right decision for you, check out all the answers to your questions here, and help give life this January.

Who do blood donations help?
Blood donations help anyone who needs blood for any number of medical services. They help your friend, your family member and your neighbor down the street. In fact, one out of every seven people entering the hospital needs blood—and blood donations fill this need.

According to the American Red Cross, during a regular blood donation process, the average donor will give about one whole pint of blood. This single donation has the potential of saving as many as three lives. There are four main transfusable products derived from this pint of blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. In just one single day in the U.S., approximately 7,000 platelets, 10,000 units of plasma and 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed. Your single pint of blood goes towards meeting these needs.

Who can donate blood?
Many people can donate blood and don’t even know it. If you’re 17 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health, you may be eligible to donate. While all blood types are wanted, there are some who are in greater demand. There are four main blood types: O, A, B and AB (positive and negative).

The most requested blood type by hospitals is type O. Type O negative blood is the universal red blood cell donor, meaning it can be transfused to people of all blood types, especially in emergency situations and with newborns. And while only 7% of the U.S. population has O negative blood, only 3% has AB positive, which is the universal donor of plasma. If you think you are eligible to donate blood, you can find your nearest blood donation center to learn your blood type and see the impact you can make.

How can I get started?
According to the Red Cross, the number one reason donors say they give blood is because they want to help others. The most common reasons people say they don’t give blood is because they never thought about it, or they don’t like needles.

However, the donation process is simple and sanitary, with four main steps: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and then refreshments. The actual donation time lasts as little as 10-12 minutes, with the entire process typically being about an hour and 15 minutes. And while needles can be scary, the potential of saving lives is definitely something worthwhile.

If you’re interested in donating blood this January, you can go online to find the closest blood drive location, either nationally or through your local blood bank. You can even skip the line by registering online and making an appointment.

Donating blood can seem like an overwhelming process, but the difference it makes is life-saving. This year, make your New Year’s Resolutions altruistic by celebrating National Blood Donor Month in January, and for the rest of 2017.

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5 Ways to Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts

We’ve all been there. In those moments late at night or early in the day, when we’re standing in a crowd or completely alone, when those little thoughts creep in and settle themselves in the deepest corners of our minds.

You’re not good enough. They’re better than you. You don’t deserve anything.

Self-defeating thoughts can come when we least expect them and tear down our self-esteem and break our spirits. So how can we stand up to them and choose joy instead? Well, today we’re going to talk about just that, with five ways to overcome self-defeating thoughts.

1. Test your reality.
The first step in overcoming negative thoughts is to recognize that they are first and foremost in your head, and are not real. When you start to experience self-defeating thoughts, take time to question why you feel this way, what is making you think this and how it is not accurate.

Some questions to consider are: What is my evidence for this thought? Is it my interpretation, or factual? Would anyone else say this about me? When you challenge your negative thoughts, your brain will start to come back to reality, and recognize the overt inaccuracies.

2. Put it in perspective.
Sometimes when we experience self-defeating thoughts, our emotions overcome us and blow situations incredibly out of proportion. When issues like this occur, the best way to calm down and embrace positivity is to put everything in perspective.

Questions to ask yourself when this happens are those such as: Is the situation really as bad as it seems? What’s the worst possible outcome, and how likely is it? How much will this matter in one year, five years, ten years? Putting situations into perspective will not only help to calm your nerves, but will also help eliminate those pestering negative thoughts in your head.

3. Create a happy place.
If self-defeating thoughts are something you continually struggle with, try setting up a happy place for you go to when you feel overwhelmed. For instance, ask friends, families and loved ones to write notes or letters about how much they love you. Save them all up, and when you feel negativity seeping in, break out your happy place and soak up the love.

Include things that actually make you happy in your space. If you’re a visual person, put together a poster of pictures with your loved ones. Create a playlist with your favorite music to listen to. Whatever brings you joy, compile it and save it for a rainy day.

4. Establish a support system.
Like we said, everyone experiences self-defeating thoughts at some point. If you find yourself struggling more often than not, bring together some trustworthy friends and family as a support system for when you’re feeling down. Compile phone numbers, email addresses and information of those willing to talk to you when you need it.

Then, whenever you feel doubtful thoughts seeping in, use your support system to fall back on. We’re all here to support each other. After all, what are friends and family for?

5. Change your language.
Finally, and most importantly, overcome your self-defeating thoughts by changing your language. Whenever a negative thought comes, change your thought process into something positive you can feel good about.

For example, I suck at math, may be changed to But I’m an excellent writer. Or I’m not good enough, could be But these people love me and think I am good enough.

When it comes to self-defeating thoughts, there’s no sure-fire way to beat them. However, there are a number of steps you can put in place to overcome them as best as possible. The most important thing is to lean on those around you for support, and focus on coming through the other side with a more positive outlook on life.

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Home Works Painting LLC “Paints it Forward” at the ADAPT Clubhouse

Our friends at Home Works Painting LLC made a very generous contribution to Brain Injury Services in December by “Painting It Forward!” They provided $5,000 of painting services to our ADAPT Clubhouse at no cost to our organization. We are so thankful. Take a look at their video which summarizes the work they did for us.