Caring Connections, Scholarships, Sharing

Thank You All of Our Scholarship Applicants

thank you

Thank-you-scholarships-piggy bank

Throughout each year, Unified Caring Association (UCA) holds scholarship contests to help those of all age ranges with funding for their education. Our recent fall applicants all had wonderful and caring essays that they submitted.

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? This was our most recent topic for the category for U.S. high school juniors and seniors. We were so impressed and moved by common themes we read that we shared them in our blog posts: Themes from Scholarships 2019 – Empathy to Passion, Themes from Essays – Gratitude, The Little Things Count, and Themes from Scholarships-Understanding Others: We are All Human. In these blogs we amplify these caring thoughts and actions, celebrating the growth, success, and innovative thinking for solving problems currently happening and in the future. 

With these students we are looking at a brighter future. We are proud to honor these caring young adults who are taking steps in unique ways to create a better, more caring world. Thank you, and we are looking forward to your continued success!

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Caring Connections, Scholarships, Sharing

Themes from Scholarships-Understanding Others: We Are All Human

understanding others

Themes-from-Scholarships

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? This is the question we asked our recent scholarship applicants to respond to. There are so many answers to this question, and all are wonderful. We read all of the essays and noticed common themes of empathy, gratitude, and a third common theme: “understanding others.” To understand others takes both empathy and gratitude to connect with others and see them for who they are: caring individuals with achievements of their own.

Grace Peyron – We are All Human

“…if I could change one thing, it would be to simply stop hurting one another and realize that we are all human.” This is part of Grace’s opening statement in her essay. She has a very good point. To help make the world a more caring place begin with stopping a negative action or thought. This takes vigilance. Grace comments, “Some may say that the world isn’t all that bad, that it is only the few bad people in the world creating this horrible corruption of hate against each other, but I think this ugly side is in all of us.” If we are able to let go of the negative when we recognise it, we are more able to promote the positive and caring aspects of ourselves. This example in turn helps others do so as well. Grace’s relatability to the human in all of us comes through when she continues “there are times where we can all admit that we haven’t reached out to help someone when we should have …sometimes get caught in the “id” mindset where we only focus on ourselves and our own desires instead of those of others.”

Why do we all struggle as humans to pull ourselves out of the funky ‘id’? There are many reasons for this but often it is because we are feeling insecure ourselves, and then mirror it onto others. This allows us to externalize the struggle, and often lash out as a result. This can be seen as acts of jealousy or lack of confidence in ourselves. Cue acts of self-care and growth mindset coupled with empathy and gratitude to see that we are all just human beings. This shift in mindset is one way that Grace would like to help promote to create a more caring world. “When we are understanding of one another we listen, we feel empathy; we feel pain when they feel pain and happiness when they feel happiness. When we have this empathy we are forgiving of others faults.”

Shreya Mapadath – See Through Other’s Eyes

Grace is not alone in wanting to help others see and be seen as human. Shreya Mapadath too wants to help make the world a more caring place by giving “…each individual the ability to fully understand one another.” Shreya writes about how power struggles have been recorded throughout history. These conflicts that arise are at their core due to a lack of mutual understanding of each other. Shreya talks about a first hand experience during a conversation with a host family while abroad in South Korea. They had a duscussion about there different views on same-sex marriage. Ultimately Shreya came to the conclusion that “…it doesn’t make sense to observe other people simply through my own perspective; I have to actively seek to understand what part of their lives has molded their beliefs today.” This is a great example of opening your mind to new experiences and learning how to see situations and beliefs through others eyes. Shreya echoes this in her essay. “When we make the effort to educate ourselves on the unique contexts other people live in and connect with them on a deeper level, caring is a natural outcome.” This small task of keeping an open mind to learn about others to see things their way is a key to helping create a more caring world. “By understanding not just the meaning of someone’s words, but also the context from which those words come, the reasons behind our clashing opinions become much more apparent. It is only after we can see past the superficial divides that exist between others and ourselves that we can realize every human is at their core just that: a human being.”

Sara A. McDufford – Being Known For Your Achievements

“There is a common saying, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’” Sara has a profound point. We have mentioned in other blogs about how actions often speak louder than words, and leading by example. In her essay, Sara talks about removing externalities from people’s perceptions of a person’s abilities and achievements. Sara focuses on race as her example in her essay. She defines race as “… the concern of physical appearance or the genealogical faction.” And she continues in her essay stating that this should stop ASAP. “But it can only stop if we focus on not who has power… but what that power has created in terms of gaps. A discussion about race and race equals power, dismisses communities of color by saying white is might and that’s how it will always be. When we speak of race as who has power and who does not, we invest in putting up additional borders that divides us from the honest conversation about realities that have been created and how to undo those realities.” This gap that Sara writes about does not allow for any healing. This gap doesn’t allow for promoting a more caring world. We are all human, right? There is empathy in the world and in those who strive to see the world through others’ eyes. So why is there a gap? “This [gap] is not exactly a lack of empathy, but it is a lack of exposure.” There are people who have a desire and passion… to learn about each other as a means of growth.” This echoes Shreya, seeing others through their own beliefs and values.

Sara offers a proposal that if these externalities are removed, the gap between people will most likely cease to exist. This will allow for individuals to be seen based on their achievements. This is what Sara believes is one of our biggest desires “…human beings want to be known for the good we do, for what we accomplished and how we existed. We do not want to be known or focused on as if we were just characteristics such as the color of our skin. When we bring our talents towards the public, we hope that our talent is judged alone.” Sara writes about creating a more caring world that allows for people to be known based on their “…work ethic, creativity, dedication… [and] the diversity of our talents should earn their own merits, always.”

All-Human

With these talented and caring writers we are excited and hopeful for our developing world. Creating a caring atmosphere filled with empathy, gratitude and understanding of others.  We are all human. We all can taking caring action. Thank you to all of our talented students who wrote in essays on how to create a more caring world. We are amped up for all of the actions and changes you continue to make!

Want to read more from Unified Caring Association? We have other blogs about UCA and member benefits, blogs for sharing caring the UCA way, and reviews and caring research. If you would like to get caring throughout your week, follow us on social media: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter!

Healthcare, Self Care, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Getting Better at What We Care About

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There are many things as aspects of our lives that we care about: caring for our family, our performance at work, or even our physical fitness and health. But we can often find ourselves with little desire or in a struggle to improve. There are many ways we can strive to be better at what we care about. One of the best ways to begin a self-care or self-improvement journey is with mind, then follow with action.

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is an idea where a person can adopt a practice where their most basic abilities can be continually developed through dedication and hard work. Brains and talents are just a starting point, continually learning and growing is the ‘maintenance’ so to speak. This perspective often fosters resilience and a love of learning which can lead to success. This means that the brain is always growing, building new neural pathways, more resilient, as well as getting stronger.

A Tale of Two Zones… 

In his TedTalk Eduardo Briceño breaks down how to get better at what we care about. He begins talking about two zones that we must go through to get better at one or more skills. The first phase, the learning zone is the desire for improvement and is where the growth mindset lies. To do this “… we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven’t mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about)This is in contrast to the second zone called the performance zone. The performance zone is where we execute our task, exercise our skills, “…do something as best as we can…[and] concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about) Briceño mentions that often those who are perceived as highly effect and successful deliberately set the intention to alternate between these two zones. The goal for getting better at what we care about is to be clear about what we want in each of these two zones: learning and growth followed by the maximum benefit and success during implementation. Rinse and repeat.

Seems simple, right? The struggle is that many of us don’t improve even if we work really hard. According to Briceño this is because most societies have the mindset that we must stay in the ‘performance zone.” We can see this in many companies where results are the way to be successful, or in classrooms where getting the ‘A’ or ‘100%’ is all that seems to matter. We seem to be missing the learning and experience of failure that makes it possible to get better at what we care about; “…this hinders our growth, and ironically, over the long term, also our performance.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about) The learning zone consists of what “…Dr. Anders Ericsson calls deliberate practice. This involves breaking down abilities into component skills, being clear about what subskill we’re working to improve, …giving full concentration to a high level of challenge outside our comfort zone, just beyond what we can currently do, using frequent feedback with repetition and adjustments, and ideally engaging the guidance of a skilled coach, because activities designed for improvement are domain-specific, and great teachers and coaches know what those activities are and can also give us expert feedback. It is this type of practice in the learning zone which leads to substantial improvement, not just time on task performing.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about)

Often we see a trend of our abilities plateauing during our first five years of an activity. This happens when we think and feel we have become ‘good enough’ and stop spending time in the first zone — the learning zone. We move on to the second zone — the performance zone — where we often remain. While in this second zone we are just doing to get things done as best as we can. If we are practicing mindfulness and taking notes (literally or mentally) we can then go back to the first zone and work on learning and strengthening in the areas that did not work out as well as we had hoped during the performance zone.

To set ourselves up for success we need to do four things according to Briceño: 1) adopt a growth mindset, 2) want to improve a specific skill, 3) have an idea or plan on how to improve said skill, and 4) “…we must be in a low-stakes situation, because if mistakes are to be expected, then the consequence of making them must not be catastrophic, or even very significant. “ (https://www.ted.com/talks/eduardo_briceno_how_to_get_better_at_the_things_you_care_about) If we are able to keep the stress and stakes low for a good amount of the time, we can develop an environment that allows for nurturing a growth mindset. A good take-away from the two zones and how they interact to help us get better at what we care about is to think about it like washing your hair: wash-rinse-repeat. (Click here to watch the full TedTalk video.)

Brain Chemistry 

Ok so we have a good idea about growth mindset and how to continue getting better at what we care about. But what is actually happening with the brain? The key is in how our brain has been evolving from the purely animalistic, instinctive and reactionary wiring that focuses mostly on survival even if our nobel goal is to emphasize the positive and intentional things today. How the brain remembers negative experiences is often through the body producing cortisol during a stressful event. (That T-Rex ate Bob, it was scary, and I remember that! I also remember my friend Bob. He was a cool dude.) “The bad feeling of cortisol has its own survival purpose. It alerts you to an obstacle on the path to meeting your needs so you can navigate your way to good feelings. But once you do that, your brain finds the next obstacle. You will feel bad a lot if you follow your survival brain wherever it leads.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/#66ccd9005a58) Fast forward to 2020 and we have a brain that is tuned into looking out for obstacles, and has become very skilled in remembering negative experiences.

It probably takes about three times repeating most positive experiences to make as deep of an impression in the mind as one negative experience. This is based on practices for building self-esteem and self-confidence such as through pep talks like repeating positive sayings to yourself multiple times while looking in the mirror. Doing this will ingrain a pathway and memory in the mind based on positivity, effectively training your brain to look for the positives and not the negatives. A suggestion is to “…spend one minute looking for positives, three times a day for forty five days…Any positives, no matter how small, will build the pathway that seeks and expects positives.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/#66ccd9005a58) This will create a healthy habit, and promote the development of a healthy brain.

…And Heart Happenings

Having healthy and learning minds helps us cultivate strong emotional bonds with others and ourselves. It feels good to be successful in endeavors we care about. Previous blogs we have written talk a lot about how positive feelings are good for our us, such as Caring Through the Gift of Time and Volunteering for Health. We see this when we achieve a goal — we and those who support us often are smiling.  We feel the positivity. When a positive outlook is adopted a higher frequency of success is achieved. This in turn creates a positive circuit the feeds itself, and generates more connections during our learning time. An example of this is the saying ‘you’re on fire!’ when someone is just having successful achievement after successful achievement. The excitement is palpable and the momentum is fast.

From what we have been reading and blogging about, this is the ongoing goal of a growth mindset. Most of the time we are happy when we are learning and growing. And one thing is for certain: change is inevitable. This means that it is important to continue to get better at what we care about.

Enjoy what you have been reading? Unified Caring Association has more blogs with caring UCA topics, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!