this is the archive page

Healthy Habits to Becoming a Strong Communicator

Motivational speaker Paul J. Meyer once said, “Communication—the human connection—is the key to personal and career success.” Much of life, achievement and human relationships is based almost entirely on connecting and communicating efficiently with those around you. Whether you’re in the business world or the nonprofit realm, communication is a critical component of moving things forward and accomplishing your goals.

However, more often than not, the complex art of teaching and learning communication falls by the wayside. This can result in challenging relationships across every avenue of life. So, what can be done? Fortunately, there are a few ways and practices to grow in your communication skills. Here are healthy habits you can try to become a strong communicator.

Practice active listening.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and the whole time you listen, you find yourself thinking about what you want to say next? When it comes to listening, this is often the case. Typically, we only half-listen when someone tells us something. As they talk, we either think about what we want to say next, or we think about a different topic altogether. If you want to be a strong communicator, you must practice active listening. Active listening means sitting up straight, leaning forward and truly focusing on what the other person says. Breathe in their words. If necessary, repeat their words to yourself in your mind to really let them sink in. The better you listen to what the other person has to say, the better conversation you can have.

Watch body language.
Approximately 90% of communication is nonverbal. What does this mean for your communication style? It means when someone tells you their thoughts, you should also pay attention to their body language. Body language includes such things as facial expression, arms, hands, eyes and even tone of voice. It often says how the person is truly feeling, rather than just what they say. Additionally, you can also improve your own communication by focusing on your body language. Sit up straight to show confidence, make direct eye contact to show intention in the conversation and maintain a polite and focused facial expression to show the recipient you care about them.

Ask questions.
When you ask questions, you show the other person you are truly listening, and you genuinely care about their thoughts on the topic. If you’re not sure about something they mention, repeat your own interpretation of it, then ask if you got it right. Request clarification and ask questions about their thoughts; don’t simply share your own. For instance, “What are your goals with that action?” or “What do you prefer?” are simple, guiding questions which can move the conversation along and demonstrate your interest in the dialogue.

Allow for silence.
You know the feeling. One person says something, the other replies and then both of you stand there in awkward silence. More often than not, we really don’t like silence. However, it can be an extremely valuable part of communication. Silence can provide time for both parties to really focus on what the other said, soak in the words and formulate a thoughtful response. Occasional lapses in conversation are completely natural, so don’t worry if there are a few here or there. Natural pauses are as integral to a conversation as the words themselves.

Agree with feelings, not facts.
If you’re talking with someone you strongly disagree with, it can be incredibly challenging to keep the conversation from going hostile quickly. So, practice this mantra: agree with feelings, not facts. You don’t have to agree with another person’s opinion in order to have a valuable conversation. But, you can agree with how they feel, empathize and show them you hear their needs. For instance, “You sound hurt. That must be challenging,” is a way to empathize with the other’s opinion without validating their opinions.

Without communication, many of our relationships would struggle. And just like any skill, good communication can be learned, practiced and even perfected. Try out these healthy habits in your everyday conversations in order to become a strong communicator.

this is the archive page

The Top 8 Benefits of Volunteering

When it comes to living an altruistic life that can help make a difference for others, one of the most valuable things you can give the community is the gift of volunteering. No matter where you choose to volunteer, serving is an extremely impactful gift you can provide.

However, not only can volunteering be beneficial for others, but it can be extremely rewarding for you as well. If you’re considering volunteering with a cause you care about in the community, consider the benefits you can receive. Here are the top eight benefits of volunteering.

1. Make new friends.
What better way to increase your socialization in the community and meet new friends than by getting involved with a cause you care about? By volunteering with a nonprofit organization, you can meet fellow individuals who share your interests and make new friends.

2. Build your network.
Alongside the new friends you make through volunteering, you also get the opportunity to build your professional network. Like they always say: it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Volunteering with an organization gives you the perfect chance to meet professionals in an area you’re interested in who can help you further your professional and career goals.

3. Expand your resume.
Speaking of building your network, with the connections, skills and experiences you gain through volunteering, you can also further expand your resume. With a strong resume which demonstrates your volunteer efforts, you can appear as a more well-rounded individual and help earn a new career.

4. Improve your confidence.
As you grow in your volunteer position, you can also improve your confidence and self-esteem. Particularly when teens or young adults volunteer, they develop a stronger sense of self and self-worth through the value of work they commit for others.

5. Develop emotional stability.
With new friends, better confidence and a deeper sense of purpose, volunteering can even help develop stronger emotional stability. For instance, one study found in The Balance stated when people with OCD, PTSD or anger management struggles volunteer, they feel more connected to others. This connection and meaning can decrease symptoms and improve social function.

6. Feel happier.
Volunteering helps to end loneliness, build bonds and even improve mental health—all of which leads to feeling happier. When you commit time and effort to improving someone else’s life, you might be surprised at how much joy reflects back into your own life.

7. Learn something new.
If you get involved with volunteering for an organization, chances are you will have the opportunity to learn something new through your experiences. If you enjoy expanding your horizons and gaining new skills, volunteering is the perfect way to go.

8. Explore your interests.
Finally, no matter what you’re interested in, chances are there’s an organization out there you can connect with. Whether you have a deep passion for serving refugee families, helping children in the foster care system or serving with animals, you can explore your passions, skills and interests all while volunteering to serve someone else.

When it comes to volunteering with a cause, there are a variety of different reasons to get involved. These top eight benefits are only a few of the gifts you can receive back from serving in your community. Get involved with a cause you care about to see what benefits you can enjoy from volunteering with others.

this is the archive page

Live an Altruistic Lifestyle by Caring for Animals

If you strive to live an altruistic lifestyle, you know how challenging, yet rewarding the experience can be. Altruism means making sacrifices in order to meet other individuals’ needs, but it also involves receiving that love and sacrifice back into your own life tenfold. However, living an altruistic lifestyle doesn’t simply end with human beings.

Instead, it stretches and expands throughout every aspect of your life, encompassing others, your community and even animals. Caring for animals is an important part of living an altruistic lifestyle. Today we explore how you can live more altruistically with the animals in your day-to-day life.

Volunteer at a shelter.
One of the simplest and most exciting ways to care for animals is by volunteering at a local animal shelter in your area. Check with any shelters near you to see if they need assistance, and learn more about how you can get involved. Volunteer by raising money, taking care of the animals or even rescuing any pets in need. When you volunteer at an animal shelter, you make a genuine difference in an animal’s life and can serve as a positive force for good.

Adopt locally.
Speaking of animal shelters, if you or someone you know is in the market for a new furry friend for the family, why not adopt locally? Avoid the pet store and head straight for the shelter. Shelter animals can often come from harmful and distressing backgrounds, and spend a long time waiting for the right family to come around and adopt them. You can be a renewed hope for a little furball. Adopt an animal yourself or promote adoption to friends and family in your life who are looking for a new pet.

Watch what you eat.
You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to a live a loving lifestyle towards animals, but you can help make an impact by watching what you eat. If you’re not ready to make a drastic change in your diet, take small steps to ensure the wellbeing of animals for food. For instance, focus on buying meat products from local farms which come from cruelty-free environments. Or, lessen your intake of meat products and strive to live more plant-based. This way, you can continue to live the lifestyle you want, while still caring for the animals involved.

Go fur-free.
Of course, what better way to care for animals than by committing to going fur-free? Make the pledge to go fur-free in your day-to-day life and avoid fur and skin clothing items, such as mittens, boots or handbags. Faux fur has recently become more and more popular in the fashion world, and it’s all because activists have made a conscious decision to protect animals from harm. Be a part of this movement by committing to live fur-free.

Buy cruelty-free.
Following a fur-free lifestyle is the cruelty-free lifestyle. Across the world, animals of all kinds are blinded, poisoned and burned as human products like soap, shampoo and lip balm are tested on them. If you want to live a more altruistic lifestyle by caring for animals, take a stand against these harmful lab testings. Before you buy any beauty or personal care products, check the packaging to ensure they’re cruelty-free.

Encourage spaying and neutering.
Every year, animals of all kinds are put down in shelters or killed on the streets due to issues with overpopulation. You can help reduce these issues by spaying or neutering your pets, and encouraging neighbors and friends to do the same. Learn more about spaying and neutering and search for affordable options in your area.

When it comes to living a more altruistic lifestyle, compassion doesn’t simply stop at human beings. Instill altruism throughout your entire life by consciously taking a step to care for the animals around you.

this is the archive page

The 2018 Annual Reception Highlight Video

At the Brain Injury Services’ Annual Reception, we recognize all those who give back to our organization and community through the year. With a spirit of hope and generosity, clients, survivors, family members, and local partners spend hundreds of hours each year making an impact with their lives through volunteerism and philanthropy with Brain Injury Services.

this is the archive page

How to Overcome Loneliness in Everyday Life

In today’s modern world, connecting with other people is easy. Whether it’s through texting, social media or the latest dating app, we have no shortage of ways to connect with others in our daily lives. However, despite these avenues of connection, people feel lonelier than ever. One study shared by CBS News, conducted by the Harris Poll in September 2016, concluded approximately two-thirds (72%) of Americans experience loneliness. And for many, this isn’t a once-in-awhile occurrence; one-third said they feel lonely at least once a week.

Loneliness is nothing to take lightly, either. According to WebMD, in terms of negative impact on physical health, loneliness is on par with things such as substance abuse and obesity. Humans are naturally communal beings, so when that’s taken away from us, we can fall into feelings of depression, worthlessness and even hopelessness. If you try to live altruistically, then combating your own loneliness can play a vital role in how you serve others. Here’s how to overcome loneliness in everyday life.

1. Recognize loneliness as a feeling, not a fact.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the emotion of loneliness and immediately think of it as a permanent condition. In fact, loneliness is often a result of a memory which triggers the feeling, rather than actual isolation. Our brains are designed to recognize pain, which includes painful memories; therefore, the moment we experience loneliness it immediately catches our attention. Then, your brain theorizes about why you feel lonely, with reasons such as “nobody loves me” or “I have no friends.” These theories are then confused with facts. Instead, combat loneliness by recognizing it for it is: a temporary feeling to overcome, rather than a state of permanency.

2. Shut down negative self-talk.
More often than not, loneliness is accompanied with increasingly negative self-talk. Our brains often explain any feelings of loneliness with negative reasonings about the self. If you feel this way, something must be wrong with you. You must have done something wrong. This negative self-talk tends to spiral downward even further, which only intensifies the feelings of loneliness even more. If you want to combat loneliness in your everyday life, be very aware of the way you talk to yourself. Turn any negative thoughts into positive ones, and focus on building yourself up whenever possible.

3. Put down your phone.
One simple way to overcome loneliness is by merely putting your phone down. In an interview with USA Today, Jennifer Caudle, family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, stated: “It’s not that social media and electronics are bad—they are fantastic tools. Sometimes we think we can get by with just our phone and computers, but that’s not all we need. We are humans, we need human interaction.” Phones distract us from being present with others, increase our desire for comparison and can often lead to even stronger feelings of loneliness. Take time away from your phone to focus on what really matters in life and help fight feelings of loneliness.

4. Find others to connect with.
Finally, find new groups to connect with. This might sound simple at first, but is an extremely valuable component in overcoming loneliness. Find groups of like-minded individuals you can connect to and spend time with, then join in with them. Focus your attention on those around you, rather than a constant internal battle. Then, just keep showing up. Keep showing up to events, parties, get togethers, etc. Make an effort to get out there and connect with other people. This part might be terrifying; the fear of rejection can feel overwhelming. But, only by taking the first step can you learn to truly connect with others and overcome loneliness.

Loneliness is a serious condition which affects many of us at some point in our lives. However, by recognizing loneliness as a feeling, not a fact, shutting down negative self-talk, putting down your phone and finding others to connect with, you can overcome loneliness in your everyday life. Try out these steps next time you feel lonely and see how your life can improve.