Monthly Archives: November 2012

Focusing on the Positive – Part 1

All people are inherently programmed to notice and immediately form lasting and indelible memories from having negative experiences more so than they will from having positive experiences.  For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic, you are more likely to remember that event than if someone allowed you to merge into traffic.

Generally, our lives are filled with considerably more positive than negative events so our moods tend to be good.  However,  a brain injury invariably brings about a noticeable increase in the number of negative events in a survivor’s life.  These negative events can include such things as the loss of a job, physical pain or a decline in mobility.  As the ratio of positive to negative events shifts, many survivors see a decline in their emotional well-being.

One of the methods that can help improve mood is to deliberately focus on positive events.  A simple way of accomplishing this is by writing down at least five positive things that happened during the day.  This should be done on a daily basis.

Positive events do not have to be large accomplishments such as walking for the first time post-injury.  They can be (and usually are)  smaller events such as having a nice conversation with a spouse or working hard in speech therapy.  Moreover, if the same positive events happen each day, they can be written down each day.  You do not want to ignore positive events just because they happen regularly. The events should  be documented and kept in a format that can be easily accessed and reviewed.  A clear and concise diary-style list is suggested, and survivors with visual deficits may benefit from making a voice recording of events.  This activity should not be done only in one’s head.  When we leave the positive events in our head, it is all too easy to forget or discount them.  As such, it is preferable to have them available in a concrete visual or auditory format.

Here are some sample entries of daily positive events:

1.  Went out to eat for breakfast

2.  Enjoyed reading a book

3.  Transferred from my wheelchair without help

4.  Showered with only 25% assistance

5.  Had a nice conversation with my mother


1.  Was complimented by my physical therapist for giving great effort

2.  Was able to share my feelings with my counselor

3.  Conducted a cash transaction without assistance

4.  Told a joke that made everyone laugh

5.  My wife served my favorite dish for dinner


1.  Woke up without needing my alarm clock

2.  Followed my daily schedule without errors

3.  Received a card from a friend

4.  Found out that I gained 5% range of movement in my right arm

5.  Finished reading my book

By doing this activity every day, it is easier to notice and focus on positive events.  Consequently, many people who engage in this activity experience an improved mood and an expanded appreciation of daily life.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center:

Teacher Supply Stores

Many brain injury survivors and their families wonder about where they can find useful activities to improve the deficits left in the wake of a brain injury.  A favorite place of mine to find these types of activities is the teacher supply store.  You do not need to be a teacher to shop at one of these stores.

Teachers will work on skills such as reading, memory, perception and problem-solving.  All of these may be skills that a brain injury survivor needs to work on.  For instance, teacher supply stores have story cards to  practice memory, photograph libraries to practice naming and puzzles to practice visual-spatial skills.  The first time you go to one of these stores you will want to spend some time walking through the aisles and familiarizing yourself with all of the available selections as the inventory there is generally quite different from that of a typical retail store.  Every city with a reasonably sized population will have at least one of these stores.  In my experience, every store will have the same type of core material but some stores tend to specialize and may have particular items that other stores may miss.  The prices at these stores are usually pretty reasonable so you can often get some great activities under a more limited budget.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center:


Many brain injury survivors falsely believe that having a brain injury interferes with their right to vote.  This is not even remotely true.  If you are a registered voter and have a brain injury, you can still vote.  If you require special accommodations be made in order for you to vote, the polling location must make those accommodations.  For instance, one of our former patients was unable to get into the polling location due to his wheelchair, so the polling official allowed him to do his voting curbside.  So remember, get out and vote!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: