Be The Good

Be The Good

How to spread kindness in 2016.
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While I wrote an article about New Year's resolution last week, it was, admittedly, a little haphazard and hurried. That being said, I’d like to expound on one of my final resolutions from the last article (Random Acts of Kindness) and send some good vibes into the Internet either by laying out what I believe could be a good strategy for bettering oneself in 2016. Namely, I’d like to discuss how one might make some other-oriented resolutions aimed at kindness.

Help Others, Help Yourself

I think a lot of people are looking critically at themselves in this new year, and I think that’s a great place to start. Obviously, one can’t treat others quite well if they aren’t looking to treat themselves well. I’m sure you’ve already made plans for how you’re going to improve yourself in 2016. I know I have: get good rest, focus on my creative endeavors, make sure I treat my body and mind well. Yet, I think that you can often treat yourself well and maybe even better by focusing on treating others well. That is, by having an exterior focus, one often finds that she has a lot less time to worry, and she finds her troubles minimize in comparison to the good she can do for others. When one focuses their love and devotion outward, one also finds that she receives more love and devotion from those around her. Now, I'm not saying you should simply help others because it will benefit you, but I am saying that the universe usually smiles on those who smile on others. So it's time to get smiling!

Be a Good Listener

I think one of the most powerful ways you can show someone you truly care is by listening. Make time for the people you care about even when, and probably especially because, you're busy. And when you’re with them, put down your cell phone, make good eye contact, and make sure to acknowledge what they’re saying. Make them feel heard and understood (even if you disagree). And what’s more, don’t be afraid to listen or talk to new people. I'm sure there are people in your life that you have passed by and really wanted to know them better. Reach out to them!

They've probably wondered about you, too. Make friends, especially with those working behind a counter. It takes maybe 30 extra seconds to make someone working feel like they’re not just a faceless machine in a store. Chat and ask about their weekend. Ask "how are you" and actually wait for an answer. I often think about my experience lifeguarding and how often people were unfriendly or just completely ignored me. If those same people had smiled at me and sincerely wondered what was going on in my life, I would have had a much better experience.

Ditch the Judgement

Criticism of others usually stems from criticism of the self. I’m speaking from deep, personal experience here. I think one of the beauties of having a POSITIVE other-oriented attitude is that when you start giving other people slack and try to see them in a warmer, brighter light, you’ll probably start to do the same for yourself and start to love yourself more. Besides, you don’t know what other people are really going through, so when you start to judge, it’s important to step back and realize that maybe it’s your own ego talking and not the actions, beliefs, or looks of the person in front of you.

Encourage! Encourage! Encourage!

On the opposite to "don't criticize," it's also importantly to actively support others. Let others know that their ideas, hopes, and dreams are worthwhile. It's so easy to become discouraged in college, especially when everyone's in such close proximity and surrounded by comparison. I guess what I'm trying to say is simple and kind of the thesis of this whole article: be kind. Show love to others by being gentle with and uplifting to them. Let them know that they can and should act on their wildest, most impossible seeming dreams. Be the lift to their sails rather than the last breath of the shattering storm.

I hope these thoughts help you be the good in 2016! Wishing much love, joy, and health to you all!

Cover Image Credit: http://www.peterlovesjane.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/be-kind-printable.jpg

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Public Health May Be The Most Important Area To Focus On As A Society

I saw with my own eyes the importance of public health initiatives in villages throughout Honduras and Nicaragua.

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Medical exploration and healthcare management has thrived throughout the 21st century, with major developments in epidemiology allowing organizations such as the World Health Organization of the United Nations to track the spread of preventable diseases such as malaria and influenza across impoverished countries worldwide. I saw with my own eyes the importance of public health initiatives in villages throughout Honduras and Nicaragua when I traveled there as a Brigadier with Stony Brook's Public Health Brigade, a coalition organized by Global Brigades during the Summers of 2016 and 2017.

Working alongside other university collaborations such as Boston University, I was mesmerized by the impact that improvements such as clean water through mountain pipelines and sustainable housing could do in reducing the severity of Zika virus outbreaks in the region, as accentuated by the near 8,400 villagers with access to clean water as a result of our efforts.

These experiences demonstrated to me the value of preventative measures highlighted by the public health approach — by attacking the origin of a disease and the medium through which it spreads instead of merely treating the manifestation of its symptoms, a holistic approach would allow for the eradication of a malady throughout an entire region whilst educating the local populations about the importance of proper hygiene practices and fortified infrastructure to prevent its re-eminence. It is for this reason that I feel inspired to pursue a graduate degree in Public Health as a professional, so that I can help contribute to the eradication of preventable illnesses across the globe.

A specific area of interest that I wish to target as a field of study would be the impact of sustainable housing in the eradication of illnesses such as lead poisoning through contaminated water sources. My own experience in this particular aspect of Public Health Administration as a Brigadier with Stony Brook Public Health Brigade showed me the importance of secure infrastructure in the reduction of preventable diseases as an especially pertinent area of community health in the United States, highlighted by the water toxicity crisis in Flint, Michigan.

A recent study released by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at Hurley Medical Center noted an uptick in the blood-lead concentration of Flint Children from 2.4% to 4.9% after changing their water source, with spikes as high as 10.6% in correlation with elevated levels of lead in Flint water. These elevated blood-lead concentrations put these children at higher risk for lead poisoning, characterized by reduced growth rate and learning difficulties. Purification of the available water sources throughout the region would be a comprehensive long-term solution to reducing elevated blood-lead levels amongst Flint residents.

My goals after my master's degree in public health would be to pursue a medical education and become a doctor, or go into Healthcare Administration and eventually work with the WHO of the UN to establish a more easily accessible Healthcare system across various countries to increase the number of people in impoverished areas that can be reached by doctors, nurses and other primary care practitioners. I feel that a proper understanding of public health would, therefore, be essential to establishing my career in service to humanity.

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