The Boomerang Cycle: A Book Spotlight From the Bolt Brothers

BoomerangIn doing good, sometimes we receive so much more than we ever anticipate. Check out this guest post by entrepreneur, Chandler Bolt, and his brother Seth Bolt (from the band NEEDTOBREATHE) on their new book. We’re excited to share their story with you…

The South Carolina heat is oppressive in the summer, when the porch flies cling to sugary glasses of ice tea and women fan themselves on Sunday mornings with their folded church bulletins. We were raised there, kids of hardworking parents who never had much to give except for love, devotion, and an unending supply of encouragement to make something of ourselves. Our parents didn’t have much, but what they gave us was worth more than any fancy house we could’ve grown up in. We learned skills early on that we use to this day, instilling in us a roadmap that has led us both to where we are today.

Through faith, determination, and perseverance, we have been able to do things we never dreamed of back when we were kids. We are a successful businessman and a talented musician. We get paid to do what we love and there is no greater joy than that. How did we do it? We gave, and received far more than we ever could’ve asked for. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Reflections

happy-thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here! This time of year is synonymous with turkey, spending quality time with friends and family, and pausing to reflect on the things for which we are thankful.

From the AltruHelp team, we would like to pause and give thanks to our community, supporters, and all those who have shared in our journey.  We are humbled by those who continue to support our mission of increasing volunteerism! Thank you for using AltruHelp to find new meaningful ways to give back, share your act of kindness with the world,  and inspire others to help us create a lasting culture of service. Together we can strengthen our communities to make a difference!

Interested in creating positive change this Thanksgiving? Here are a few ways to show thanks by giving back:

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Want to Improve Your Health & Get Some Sleep, Try Altruism!

Sleep Better from Altruism

You first heard the idea in kindergarten: Share your toys. Later on, you were taught, “do unto others.”  And as an adult, you may have gotten the advice that the best way to feel better about yourself is to help the less fortunate.

No matter how you got the message, the concept of altruism is one that is ingrained (or should be) in our collective social conscience. Not only because acts of altruism benefit society as a whole but because, darn it, it just feels right!

So volunteering and giving feel good. But is altruism actually good for your health? The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science tackled that question in 2009 and came to the conclusion that …it is.  Continue reading

AltruHelp’s Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving is here, and for some, this time of year cannot come soon enough!  Turkey, quality time with family and other loved ones, rest and relaxation are just a few of the ways one can enjoy the holidays.

Along with food and happy memories, this time of year also serves as a great pause from the daily hubbub to reflect on the things for which we are thankful.  What are you thankful for?

From the AltruHelp team, we would like to pause and give thanks to our blog readers.  We are humbled by those who continue to show us their support by viewing and sharing our content with others, posting comments, or writing to us directly.  Together we can inspire altruism and amplify our social impact!

Here are three simple idea on ways that you can show thanks by giving back: Continue reading

AltruHelp’s Halloween Volunteer Adventure

http://familiesintheloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Halloween.jpgIn the spirit of the season of changing leaves and things that go bump in the night, the AltruHelp team was happy to volunteer this past weekend at the Castle Island Association’s 29th Annual Children’s Magical Halloween Castle. For one weekend a year the Castle Island Association transforms Fort Independence in South Boston, into a haunted castle open free to the public.

As we helped at the event we were treated to a parade of kids in costumes; we saw brave superheroes, roguish pirates, howling werewolves, and all manner of witches, princesses, ninjas, knights, ghosts, and ghouls. After exploring the shadowy depths of the castle, kids were treated to a magician, a storyteller, a temporary tattoo station, and an assortment of pastries, donuts, cider and of course, candy. Over the course of two days, over 10,000 people came to the event! And we were proud to be a part of the 30 plus volunteers who helped to make that possible.Altruhelp Volunteer event 2011

Continue reading

The Three Degrees of Altruism – Volunteer Social Networking

volunteer social-networkHave you ever wondered if social networking promotes cooperative behavior?  The nature of human social networking—our ability to connect deeply and instantaneously with friends, family, and other individuals—would seem to suggest that social networking can foster cooperation with others. Until recently, there was no scientific proof that social networking itself leads to altruistic cooperation. If one person helps another, could a third party be influenced simply by participating in the same network?

In an attempt to answer this question, Fowler and Christakis (2009) researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego designed an experiment (n=240) to test whether people really do “pay it forward,” or pass along altruistic behavior through indirect, “networked” interaction (Experiment Details).

The results of the experiment suggest—objectively—that cooperative, altruistic behavior can spread as far as three degrees within a social network (from person to person to person). In other words, by helping others, we can create a “cascade” of altruistic behavior! Volunteer Social Network

Because each “degree” in a social network represents exponential growth, helping your friend could trigger a wave of altruistic behavior in hundreds or even thousands of people!

Does this research make you think differently about the impact of your altruistic actions?

Check out AltruHelp.com to trigger your own volunteer network.


AltrUHelp Interns Organize Boston Team Volunteer Day

Have you ever painted kid’s faces and blown up beach balls while simultaneously making snow-cones? How about doing this for hundreds of elementary school students in Boston’s South End and then leading them in a Hokey Pokey flash mob dance?

This was exactly how AltrUHelp’s co-founders and several members of the team spent our Tuesday morning, volunteering through Boston Cares at the Arts in the Park festival in Titus Sparrow Park.

The festival, run by the United South End Settlements—a nonprofit that provides Boston children, teens, adults, and seniors with educational programs and social services—drew over 600 children and adults from the Greater Boston community. Many of those 600 attendees stopped by the snow-cone booth to cool off with AltrUHelp-handmade cherry, orange, grape, and blue-raspberry flavored ice. Keep reading to see the video of the elementary school kids hokey pokey flash mob dance! Continue reading

How to Live Past 100?

Lillian Davis was about to celebrate her 101st birthday—but you’d never know it—this centenarian takes only two prescription medications, lives alone in an apartment, and…still volunteers at the International Dyslexia Association after more than twenty years.

In fact, volunteering might just be Lillian’s secret to long life: She claims that her time stuffing envelopes for the IDA has helped her stay “physically and mentally healthy.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that she plans on volunteering “as long as [she] can.”

Could volunteering really be the key to living healthily into (very) old age? Research (and our recent blog post on the science behind altruism) shows that taking time to help others is as hard-wired into our brains as having sex and eating food: it’s a basic need that many of us don’t fulfill. So maybe it’s not such a big stretch to think that altruism is the secret to a long and healthy life.

What do you think? Could volunteering make you live forever?

Source

3 Movies That Inspire Altruism! What Inspires YOU?

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Patch adams with Robin Williams

I consider human satisfaction a metric of success. In life, your outlook has a major impact on how you interact with the world. Seeing the glass as half-full and not half-empty can turn your day around—works for me all the time.  When dealing with my day-to-day life, having a positive attitude helps me get through many situations while achieving the results I want.

Feeling positive and confident not only effects how you experience the world around you, but also improves your ability to connect and form relationships with others.  Of course, it’s part of our human nature to experience a plethora of negative emotions. The question then becomes: how do you let those emotions effect you?

All of our actions and reactions are interconnected. It’s rare to see people at work—or even friends—stick around when we are continually radiating negative energy. Realizing the powerful impact that mood and mindset can have, I came up with a fun way to get inspired: feel-good movies.  Below I have compiled a list of 3 AMAZING movies that moved my spirit in a meaningful and enduring way: Continue reading

Masschallege Bootcamp Week 2: An Intern Account

…And thus began week 2 of the Masschallenge Boot Camp. As you might remember, week one rapidly introduced us to the startup universe, introducing us to the skills we’d need to help AltrUHelp win! But even with all that we learned, we had no idea what was in store for us in week two. Masschallenge really kicked it up a notch (or a couple of notches). We saw more CEOs this week than all of CNBC’s anchors combined…except maybe Jim Cramer.
 
Wednesday started off with David Cancel of Hubspot and Gina Ashe of Krush dishing out executive secrets in a panel moderated by Christopher Austin from Goodwin Procter. They covered every aspect of running a startup: financing, hiring, vision, product, and customers. David and Gina used a lot of powerful personal examples, going so far as to reveal some gory details about their more unfortunate hiring decisions providing us with an unadulterated glimpse into the inner workings of two amazing startups. After another great (and free) Foley and Lardner lunch, we were treated to an interview with David Friend, CEO of Carbonite and prolific serial entrepreneur. Continue reading

MassChallenge StartUp Bootcamp Week 1: The Intern Perspective

Last week marked the beginning of the FINALIST round of the 2011 MassChallenge Global Startup Competition—the world’s largest startup accelerator. Over the next three months, AltrUHelp and 100+ other startups will compete for a slice of $1.2 million in funding. Each company has been awarded office space in the brand-new One Marina Park Drive through October along with access to lawyers, business mentors, investors, and support staff.

Day 1 of the finalist “Startup Bootcamp” began with Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar, discussing the importance of constant personal development, sharing his incredible story of battling cancer while growing ZipCar 8000%. Bill Warner—founder of Avid Technology and inventor of nonlinear video editing—urged the audience to avoid compromise and maintain integrity, offering his own mistakes as evidence.

We also heard from Jeff Taylor, Founder and CEO of Monster.com, who focused on Continue reading

Altruism: The Human Fuel

Altruistic Hero“You are a superhero. You just made my day.”Those were the words of Bernice, an eighty year-old, in appreciation for the time we spent chatting on a Sunday afternoon. I have to admit I experienced a flow of energy inside that made me feel better than ever.As I left St. Cecilia’s Parish, my mind was racing thinking about what just had happened with this woman.  Did I do something really extraordinary? How long did it take to make someone happy to be considered a superhero? And more importantly, why did it feel like she was the one who changed my entire day for good?  I couldn’t believe how powerful this action was. In two hours I had changed someone’s life by just donating some of my time, and yet I felt like I was glowing. It was in fact therapeutic: by helping others you end up unintentionally helping yourself.

In this fast-paced world, we execute a significant amount of tasks everyday, trying to get the most of our busy lives. Required to multitask—and now to manage life online and off—we have learned Read More

Lights, Cameras, ACTION: Celebs Taking Altruism to Heart

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Writing checks, headlining the occasional soiree, a photo-op with some charity – These are the common images which come to mind when people think of celebrities and altruism.  With their otherworldly lives, good looks, and sheer fame, can we expect celebrities to empathize, to really get it, when all the rest has gotten to their heads?

Actually, there are many celebrities out there who do!!!  In fact, a roll call of A-listers are putting their energies and passion toward an amazing breadth of causes. For a dose of true celebrity star power, check out this brief list of celebs: Lady Gaga, Brad & Angelina, Mark Wahlberg, and Prince William & Princess Kate to see the dynamic work they are doing for causes they value.

Lady Gaga

Few celebrities combine fashionista, musical talent, global reach and Twitterati quite like Lady Gaga.  Just 25 years old, she’s already a 5-time Grammy award winner, the holder of two Guinness World Records, and She’s closing in on 10 million followers on Twitter @ladygaga – more than any other twitting being on Earth.  With every red carpet cameo, she upends the fashion world with her avant garde ensembles and slightly absurd sensibilities. Lady G is the quintessential 21st century celeb, and with that comes extraordinary altruistic clout!

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Selfless Therapy Part II: Sharing as Giving – A Prisoner’s Perspective

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AltrUHelp

This marks the second post in AltrUHelp’s new series of guest blog posts from industry professionals.  Jordan Nacht is a Mental Health Counselor from New York and a thought leader on the topic of altruism in the therapy arena.

As a mental health counselor who works with parolees, probation and pre-trial clients, I’ve heard countless anecdotes of the horrors of prison life.  As it is with most daunting experiences, there are points of happiness and growth in these perceivably “dark” experiences.  I make it a point to assume a nonjudgmental and unconditionally positive stance toward my clients (which is utterly necessary for any therapist). To do so, I search for these shining lights—redeeming, uplifting moments—however bright or dim.

I often ask my clients a particular question regarding their time in prison: “How did you keep your sanity,” or more pointedly, “how did you maintain the goodness I see inside you while stuck in such a ‘bad’ environment?”  This question can elicit such emotion that clients decline to answer–in which case I revisit the question once a more trusting relationship has been established.  Oftentimes, though, a response comes forth immediately. It never fails to relate to altruism.  In this piece, I will depict some of these experiences, those through which incarcerated persons maintain their humanity. Read More

Selfless Therapy Part I: Insights on Altruism in Mental Health

This post marks the beginning of a new series of guest blog posts from industry professionals. We will be highlighting how altruism plays a role in the careers of several individuals. Today we are spotlighting Jordan Nacht, a Mental Health Counselor from New York on the topic of altruism in the therapy arena. Thank you Jordan for this profound and inspirational post:

Selfless Therapy: Insights on Altruism in Mental Health Part I

As a therapist who works in a private practice, I have encountered the mentally ill and substance abusers in the guise of convicted felons, parolees, average joes, and the elite.  Being out of grad school for only eight months, I am already beginning to reap the rewards of the interaction commonly referred to as “The therapeutic relationship.”  Many clients have inadvertently inspired me in a way I never thought they would, and have done so through the sharing of their selfless experiences.  Now, assuming generalizations from the specifics of each client’s case would be like bringing together thirty differing instruments of varying make, tone, pitch, and intensity to create harmony.  Yet, somehow it works.  To some conductors it just makes sense, and the end result is often an orchestra exuding such power and such awe-inspiring beauty that it can bring tears to the human eye.  If I am this conductor, my clients’ experiences are those instruments, and the harmonious, awe-inspiring product is the conclusion that each of their cathartic experiences shares a common bond – ALTRUISM. Continue reading

AltrUHelp Enters 2011 MassChallenge Startup Competition

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Hello AltrUHelp Believers and Welcome New Readers!

I would like to thank each of you for your tremendous support! AltrUHelp has just entered the 2011 MassChallenge Global Startup Competition because of your belief in our mission: to build the world’s largest online altruistic social experiment to prove humans enjoy helping each other and being helped themselves.

Below you will find a video we have created to help our new readers and the judges of MassChallenge understand our passion for inspiring a NEW WAVE of global altruism and human collaboration. We hope you enjoy this video and encourage you to share it with your friends and family.

As Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”  Please continue to show your support for AltrUHelp by voting for us: AltrUHelp MassChallenge Profile

With your vote, we can inspire altruism and spark a new global movement.  Thank you for your support!

Respectfully,

Mathew, Antoinne, & Mike
Co-Founders, AltrUHelp

Altruism: The Helper’s High

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*Welcome to Part II of The Science Behind Altruism, our series of posts exploring the new scientific discoveries surrounding altruism.

“When I do good, I feel good.” – Abraham Lincoln

Leave it to Honest Abe, who provided America such oratorical masterpieces as the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural, to sum up altruism in seven simple words.  Plain yet spot-on, what Lincoln described is the core experience of being altruistic: that doing good for others really provides us an unmatched feeling of well-being, simply from knowing we helped another person.

Psychologists call it the “Helper’s High.”  But here at AltruHelp we know it’s more than that.  Why?  Because of the flurry of cutting edge research that is bringing new understanding to how and why this sensation of “feeling good” happens, and the possibilities ahead for recognizing the contributions of altruism to our health and happiness.

Thanks to advances in brain-imaging technology and the advent of neuroeconomics, a new field that applies neuroscience to study economic behavior, scientists have designed several experiments that actually trace altruism—and the pleasure we gain from it—to specific regions and systems in the brain.  In fact, two studies offer striking evidence that our brains are naturally wired to help us be altruistic.  Read More

Tap Your Inner Child: The Science Behind Altruism

Do humans have an innate desire to help others without expecting anything in return? It’s a simple question that has tested the wits of scientists and philosophers across millennia, including the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Hobbes and Darwin. Now it’s AltruHelp’s turn to weigh in on this perennial question.

Today’s post marks the start of a three-part series examining the emerging research on how humans are naturally altruistic—i.e. how we are innately composed via our brains, genes and neurons to help others selflessly. By looking at recent experiments conducted at leading institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the German-based Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, as well as articles from prominent science and psychology journals, our goal is to shed light on the cognitive, genetic and neurochemical processes that likely combine to make altruism an innate human behavior.

One of the most fascinating areas of research focuses on whether young children have a natural (versus a learned or socialized) willingness to be altruistic. Read More

How Altruistic Are YOU?

AltruHelp
Have you ever wondered why helping someone feels good?  Or why you feel that psychological urge to help somebody even when you aren’t expected to?

Take a moment and think back to an instance when you helped someone and expected nothing in return.  Maybe it was giving directions and information to someone who was lost, or giving up your seat on a bus or train, or lending a hand to someone who was clearly in need.  Remember that brief positive energy you felt after?

What explains this impulse to behave altruistically, and the positive sensation we feel afterward?  Is altruism hard-wired into our brains, a function of morality, or just a way to satisfy our egos by validating that we’re a “good” person?  Is it a learned behavior driven by social mores, karma, or a reflexive process linked to genetics and evolution?

Here at AltrUHelp, we want to explore and inspire altruism – both inside the human mind and in our everyday lives. Read More

Why People Do What They Do (via DIY Fitness) & Action Trumps Everything (via L. Schlesinger)

I recently read a blog post where Lyell of Do It Yourself Fitness highlighted the significance of “seeing people you’ve helped, help those around them…and seeing how all your hard work has a positive effect.”

Lyell’s post reinforces an important topic our team plans to explore: does seeing altruism make individuals more altruistic? Here at AltrUHelp, we feel that seeing is believing, because one altruistic action drives a chain of action. We believe that seeing altruism influences action and encourages others to pay it forward.We’ve all heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words,” but how many of us are bold enough to take that first step towards helping a random individual?

As Leonard Schlesinger, the president of my MBA program at Babson College, highlights in his new AWESOME book Action Trumps Everything, “The future may or may not be like the past, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time wondering how the future will play out if you plan to shape it.” Take that first step as Lyell did below and start your own altruistic chain of action. If your not sure where to start but you know you want to help others, send me an email at Mathew@altruhelp.com and I’ll send you an exclusive invitation to join the Beta launch of AltrUHelp.com this Spring 2011. Join the world’s largest online altruistic social experiment to prove that humans naturally want to help others and be helped themselves because altruism is hardwired to the brain and fun!

Thanks Lyell for sharing this great story with us! We welcome everyone’s comments on this topic as we get closer to launching the AltrUHelp Social Experiment. Thanks for reading!

I was asked the other day, “Hey Lyell, how much money do you make with DIY Fitness?” I gave him a “You’re kidding, right?” laugh and then I noticed…..He was serious. When I explained to him that I make absolutely zero dollars, he gave me an equally sarcastic “You’re kidding me” chuckle. He couldn’t understand why someone would spend so much time helping others and gain nothing from it. What the gentleman didn’t understand was that not everythin … Read More

via DIY Fitness

Community Altruism (via AMY VAN ES)

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Wonderful blog post by Amy Van ES exemplifying altruism exhibited within her community. The story illustrates how people in communities naturally come together to help each other! We will continue to spotlight these inspirational stories as we build our website and prepare for launching the AltrUHelp social experiment. Thank you Amy for sharing this beautiful blog post with us. See Amy’s story below:

As I sat in my car which was stuck atop a snow bank I thought I could get over; baby in the backseat crying; on the phone with my mom; utterly frustrated with myself for getting myself into this situation; a man approached me… Sensing my distress, he asked if he could help. I (obviously) was in no position to refuse help and say I could figure it out. He began to dig. It was about fifteen minutes later that he, too, admitted he couldn’t do it on … Read More

via AMY VAN ES

Make a Difference in Someone’s Life

Helping Homeless AltruHelp

Helping the homeless: You can make a huge difference in someone’s life with just one random act of kindness. Authentic blog post by fellow WordPress blogger Therabidpossum  below:

You can change someone’s life for the good so very easily. Today on my regular commute route to college, I found myself stopping off at a Gregg’s and buying a chicken lattice. As I strolled leisurely up the hill towards the top of town enjoying my (somewhat disappointingly luke-warm) meaty breakfast I remember thinking to myself that today was going to be one of those days again, one of those days where everything goes bad or is otherwise just an … Read More

via therabidpossum

Welcome: AltrUHelp Begins

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Hello New Readers and Welcome Back Loyal Followers!

The catalyst behind this blog and our team’s website (AltrUHelp.com launching soon!) has been our passion for helping others. We believe that people naturally enjoy helping others and want to be helped themselves. We believe the greatest entrepreneurial ideas are those that make a difference in people’s lives, ideas that inspire action to create a greater social good. From the time I learned how to walk I have been fascinated with exploring opportunities that help individuals overcome challenges. My passion for altruism has been a driving force throughout my life but I’ve always wondered how altruistic is the rest of the world? How often are most people willing to place the interests of others before their own?

If you enjoy helping others, volunteering, or you simply want to to make a difference in the world please join AltruHelp.com or subscribe to our blog. You can email me with questions at Mathew@altruhelp.com. Read More