First we see the world; then we crawl to explore; next we walk to share how much we care; then we run, experiencing all we can. But what happens after we run? Mid-life brings up a slew of new questions. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrate each stage of life, the adventure that can happen, and strive to have caring tools and resources for our UCA members. During the stage of mid-life, we can have a very different adventure than running head-long into crisis.
A majority of UCA’s members are entering or in this time of life.
Often when we arrive to ages 45-65, we can enter a “mid-life crisis.” So much research has gone into this phenomena, and this mid-life time has become much better understood. There are ways to thrive during this time. What an exciting thought to have a mid-life NO crisis! We can by learning our needs at this very stage in life.We developed a simple tool called “Mid-Life NO Crisis” that helps people focus on being strong and powerful in their Mid-Life stages. This is a time of changing needs, and attitude plays a big role. Choosing to be vital and thrive makes all the difference to emerge strong into the next stage of life.
The 5 Areas
Five areas demand our attention when we are entering or going through mid-life. These focus on nutrition, caring for our minds, our relationships, and more!
Mid-Life NO Crisis
UCA’s Mid-Life NO Crisis is a kit of 4 x 6” high-quality cards. These cards cover the five areas listed in the infographic above that demand our attention in mid-life. Accompanying this deck of cards are instructions and suggestions for their use. This is a caring resource for UCA members at no cost! What a great deal and addition to all of our caring tools and resources that our members have access too!
Soon, the Mid-Life NO Crisis kit will also be made available for purchase to the public. Watch for it in the Caring Community Store.
We at UCA are always looking for new ways to share caring with our UCA members and caring community. Whether it is caring apps for growing caringchildren and teens, self-care tools to energize our minds, or resources for caregivers who help care for seniors we are growing and love sharing it all with ur caring community! With caring tools, tips and tricks, and resources we can travel our life’s journey with little or not crises.
Wednesday was a day filled with kindness as people shared caring acts and messages around the world in honor of World Kindness Day. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are drawing inspiration from all of these kind acts and keeping the momentum up. We recently read an article on the Good News Network that informs us about a new institute whose primary directive is to research kindness.
A New “Kind” of School
Kindness has been shown to be beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as promote a fulfilling and long life. Since kindness is such a large and important topic, the University of California Los Angeles decided to open a school just for researching kindness. “There are countless other ways that different compassionate acts and lifestyle changes can affect one person, let alone society…[UCLA] has just announced that they will be launching the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness.” This is all made possible by The Bedari Foundation. This private family foundation aims “…to enable significant cultural shifts in the fields of health and wellness, community displacement and environmental conservation.” They offered the gift of $20 million to help establish this school at UCLA.
This institute will begin operating immediately. It will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding kindness. These researchers will do this by using biological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural and sociological, as well as economic perspectives. Some of the focuses for researchers from many disciplines and external organizations who are gathering at the institute will be researching “…the actions, thoughts, feelings and social institutions associated with kindness.”
The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will support world-class research on kindness. Some of the focus will be on creating opportunities to apply the kindness research to the real-world. Also, the institute will serve as a global platform for communicating findings, helping educate the world on the science of kindness. The institute hopes to use its research to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies. This caring research is a wonderful way to promote caring around the world. Additionally, the research is helping set in motion acts of kindness that can help make the world a better place. UCLA chancellor Gene Block comments that “universities should always be places where we teach students to reach across lines of difference and treat one another with empathy and respect — even when we deeply disagree.” It is Chancellor Block’s hopes that the new institute will gather some of the best minds and hearts to bring forth top ideas on the vital issue of kindness. The sciences of kindness and how we apply that knowledge to government, economics, and general welfare of our communities gives us real hope for a solid social impact, now and for future generations.
What Have Researchers Already Begun Studying?
In previous blogs we have mentioned how kindness and caring acts are contagious, in a good way. UCLA anthropologists are examining this phenomena of kindness that spreads from person to person and group to group. One study underway is the study of “…how people who regularly act unkind might be encouraged to engage in kind acts instead.” Also, UCLA psychologists are conducting studies on how kindness can improve our moods and reduce symptoms of depression. “Others are pursuing research on changes in neurobiology and behavior resulting from mindfulness, and how those changes can influence kindness and people’s mental, physical and social well-being.”
But Wait, There’s MORE!
There is more for those of us who are looking for more excitement. The Kindness Institute will provide seed funding for projects that research and examine the mechanics of kindness, both social and physical. This could give us insight on how people and their communities can harness kindness to create more humane, caring societies. The Good News Network also reports that “It also will provide mindfulness awareness training to students, faculty and staff and in underserved Los Angeles communities, and host an annual conference at which presenters will examine new discoveries in kindness research, among other activities.” Matthew Harris, one of the The Bedari Foundation’s co-founders and UCLA alumni, states, “Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us … Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world. As we seek at Bedari to bridge the divide between science and spirituality, through the establishment of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute we hope to educate and empower more and more people in the practice of kindness.”
We are so excited to hear about all of the kindness being brought into our caring communities. We thank every person who participates in caring acts to help make our world a better place for us all!
“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” (Tony Schwartz) There are many things that we all have in common. One thing which we have in common is that we all want to be good people. Our efforts can be seen through reforestation efforts, caring for the elderly, or other self-care techniques like meditation. Recently, we at Unified Caring Association (UCA) watched an interesting TedTalk by Dolly Chugh. A woman who enlightens us to the self-inquiry about what it means to be a “good person,” and how letting go of that restrictive definition can help us grow to become a better person.
The Perception of a “Good Person”
Dolly Chugh mentions at the beginning of her TedTalk that she studies the psychology of “good people.” Dolly says, “Research in my field says many of us care deeply about feeling like a good person and being seen as a good person. The problem is that we may not all have the same definition. Whatever our definition is, that moral identity is important to many of us. Meaning that our perception of ourselves is often differs from that of others. We can have a communication breakdown when there is a misalignment. This misalignment can cause us discomfort. Many of us can get stuck in a rut with this awkward, uncomfortable uneasiness. We want to remain attached to our concept of what a good person is and how we fit that definition.
Dolly poses a great question, “What if I told you that our attachment to being good people is getting in the way of us being better people?” Woah! Our definition of a good person often is narrow and impossible to meet. This doesn’t seem fair to others or ourselves. What do we do then? Let go of being this idealistic good person to become a better person.
The definition of bounded rationality is when our decision-making processes in our minds is limited by sets of information. In addition to this, we have a finite amount of time to process this information to make a decision. Kind of like a shortcut, we can quickly access these concepts and make a decision without even taking time to think about it. People often hold fast to these parameters and definitions. Sometimes bounded rationality is referred to as a fixed-mindset. The opposite of this is a growth mindset. A growth mindset is where we are open to new parameters, ideas, and concepts in an effort to expand our information and make better decisions.
Dolly Chugh and her associates took the concept of bounded rationality to define a new stance that they call bounded ethicality. “We have a human mind that is bounded in some sort of way and relying on shortcuts, and that those shortcuts can sometimes lead us astray … With bounded ethicality, the human mind, the same human mind, is making decisions.” Dolly makes a good point when she continues on to remark, “unconscious bias is one place where we see the effects of bounded ethicality. So unconscious bias refers to associations we have in our mind, the shortcuts your brain is using to organize information, very likely outside of your awareness, not necessarily lining up with your conscious beliefs.”
OK, So Example Time!
Dolly gives us multiple examples of letting go in her TedTalk, but one stands out to us. If we think about it, we can see the effects of bounded ethicality when we experience conflicts of interest. “We tend to underestimate how much a small gift … can affect our decision making. We don’t realize that our mind is unconsciously lining up evidence to support the point of view of the gift-giver, no matter how hard we’re consciously trying to be objective and professional.” If you accept that small gift that can sway your decision making, you are possibly placing yourself into being less than a good person. Despite all of our efforts to be a good person, we can make mistakes that cause us much strife. “…despite our best attempts, and we explain away our mistakes rather than learning from them.” (Chugh)
Once we make a mistake, we can become defensive because we are uncomfortable with violating our own image of being a good person. We fight to maintain the notion that we are a good person, rationalizing and giving excuses as to why we chose an action that made us less than a good person. “…the latest work that I’ve been doing on bounded ethicality with Mary Kern says that we’re not only prone to mistakes — that tendency towards mistakes depends on how close we are to that red zone [being defensive or angry]. So most of the time, nobody’s challenging our good person identity, and so we’re not thinking too much about the ethical implications of our decisions, and our model shows that we’re then spiraling towards less and less ethical behavior most of the time.” We can see this when we tell ourselves it is ok to have another cookie, it is small, and we have already eaten more than we should have.
What About if Someone Else Calls Us Out?
Somebody else might challenge our identity as a “good person.” Upon reflection, we can find that we may be challenging this view ourselves. “So the ethical implications of our decisions become really [important], and in those cases, we spiral towards more and more good person behavior, or, to be more precise, towards more and more behavior that makes us feel like a good person.” (Chugh)
Letting Go = Learning
Dolly’s idea when dealing with being bounded ethicality is that we sometimes can overestimate the importance our inner compass when it comes to making ethical decisions. “We perhaps are overestimating how much our self-interest is driving our decisions, and perhaps we don’t realize how much our self-view as a good person is affecting our behavior, that in fact, we’re working so hard to protect that good person identity, to keep out of that red zone, that we’re not actually giving ourselves space to learn from our mistakes and actually be better people.”
We might expect this to be easy, but often letting go is hard. The definition most of us have for a good person is an either-or. You are either a good person or not, you have integrity or you do not.
To learn and update our knowledge, we often have to go through processes like reading or talking to experts. One process is by learning from our mistakes, and getting better with each iteration. “But when it comes to being a good person, we think it’s something we’re just supposed to know, we’re just supposed to do, without the benefit of effort or growth.”
A Good-ish Person
Dolly Chugh proposes a concept that meets in the middle of the two concepts of a good person and a bad person. This concept is a “good-ish person.” She says, “…everyone just forget about being good people, just let it go, and instead, set a higher standard, a higher standard of being a good-ish person? A good-ish person absolutely still makes mistakes.” This middle ground of a good-ish person allows for a second something we all share, being human, making mistakes, and learning from them. “… as a good-ish person, I’m trying to learn from [mistakes], own them. I expect them and I go after them…As a good-ish person, in fact, I become better at noticing my own mistakes.”
Admitting that you are flawed or made a mistake can place us in a vulnerable position. But it is through reflection during the vulnerability that we can assess our definition of being a good person, the consequences of our decisions, and grow. Eventually we will see progress, growth, and begin to develop a new concept that allows us to get better.
The way we engage with our grief is a good way to measure if we are grieving in a healthy way, according to Hanna Helms, Hospice Social Worker. Helms explains that a lot of unhealthy grieving habits arise from trying to escape grief, and the pain that comes with it.
But still, why is grief a gift?
Grief can become a gift when we actively chose to engage with it. For example, when we make the choice to sit quietly and just let ourselves cry, we get the relief of noticing our feelings. If we don’t allow ourselves to be aware of how we are feeling, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to heal.
Grief is the forerunner of healing
We can think of our emotions as messengers, just like physical pain is a messenger of something wrong physically. Imagine the pain of loss to be compared to the pain of a broken bone. The pain of the broken bone is saying “hey, there is something wrong here, and your attention is needed!” Well, our minds and psyche are not so different. When we experience loss, it can trigger an emotional response that says “Hey, there is something missing that I care about! Can I have your attention please?”
The problem is, sometimes the pain messenger is so great, we can’t bear to engage with it, to fully experience it. When that is the case, says Helms, we can break our grieving up into bite sized pieces, while also focusing on self-care. We can also use a dual process model.
What is a duel process model?
A dual process model is one that allows for us to engage with their grief, even if only briefly, while getting support to live day to day life. According to Helms, this can be especially important for caregivers, who are experiencing a secondary loss of grief.
What is a secondary loss of grief?
A secondary loss of grief is when a person has not only lost a person they care about, but they also have lost the purpose they had for their life. Caregivers can often experience a secondary loss of grief. Caregivers may ask themselves “Who am I now that the loved one I cared for is gone?” A person who has spent years of their life revolving around taking care of a loved one will often be left wondering what meaning their life now holds.
Self-care and grief
Self -care during a grieving period may not look like what you think it ought to. Our cultural narrative is often to be tough, if you are a man, and to be selfless, if you are a woman. How can we fulfill these expectations and still practice self-care? Especially when self-care looks like taking more time to grieve than what society’s standard’s expectations allow? There are no time limits or expectations to grief; however, when it comes to our culture, there most certainly are. That’s why self-care is so important. And so is building a caring community.
Having a caring community around you can give you the strength or support to get through difficult times, like grieving. A caring community can be a local support or bereavement group, it can be a prayer group, a group of friends and neighbors, family, and even us here at Unified Caring Association. We are also here to help.
What ever kind of support you choose to surround yourself with, The American Psychological Association recommends talking with others, as it can help you process your grief. Remember that denying your grief only further creates a sense of isolation. So, give yourself the gift of engaging with your grief. It’s not an easy journey, but it leads to healing.
Like what you read? Check out more UCA blog posts:
Caregivers are so important, but they often forget self-care.
Being a caregiver can add value to life.
To begin with, caregivers knowing that they are providing the care they know their family member or patient needs can bring great joy and value. But beyond this, caregivers also provide a benefit to society at large, in a very practical way. Caregivers save the government and society from a significant financial concern, translating into millions of dollars (Brickell, et. al, 2019). From the micro to the macro, caregivers are an integral part of the caring community tapestry of society.
But who takes care of the caregivers?
Let’s be honest. Most times, no one. The caregiver is tasked with caring for themselves while taking care of others. This can be a challenge, especially when the toll can be so emotional, whether on a personal or professional level.
Someone who finds themselves in the role of caregiver, whether personal or professional should not disregard the importance of self-care.
The definitions for self-care are varied, and guidance can help someone decide which route to self-care is appropriate for them. We at Unified Caring Association want to be wayshowers on your journey towards a good self-care regimen. Go here: https://unifiedcaringassociationreviews.com/?s=self-care to find articles on this topic to help you begin a self-care journey.
Studies have shown that self-care for professionals can range from self-awareness and mindfulness, to understanding the delicate balance of one’s own needs and the needs of others (Shapiro, Brown, & Biegel, 2007).
And surely, these approaches can be applied to personal situations as well. Let’s talk about these ideas. Let’s explore what it means to be a caregiver and take care of yourself in the face of the huge responsibility of caring for another.
What is self-awareness and mindfulness?
Bringing the light of our consciousness to our thoughts and feelings is by itself, a transformative power
Namely, Oxford’s dictionary defines self-awareness as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings” (Lexico, 2019). In short, this type of mindfulness can feel just like telling yourself that you matter. For example, every moment you take the time to pay attention to how you’re feeling or what you are thinking about is a conscious choice to say “I matter,” instead of putting yourself and your feelings on the back burner.
The thoughts and feelings you are experiencing can sometimes be overwhelming.
In particular, it is important to allow yourself to experience your thoughts and feelings without judging yourself. Generally, practice self-compassion. You can hear more about self-compassion and what it means to nurture your heart, by listening to Tara Brach’s talk https://www.tarabrach.com/judgment-self-compassion/.
When you pay attention to your feelings, what you need becomes consciously more important.
The simple act of awareness becomes a self-correcting process.
Amazingly, this awareness and caring about your state of being will present remedies for what ails you in the moment. Some days, the perfect medicine will be a walk in your neighborhood. Other days, it may be allowing yourself time to sit and watch a favorite movie (even when there are dishes to do!). Or perhaps, you may want to make time to pursue that hobby you have been thinking about for years. Then again, you may want to sign up for a class.
Self-care is also asking for help when you need it.
Brickell, t.A, French, L.M., Gartner, R.L., Driscoll, A. E., Write, M.M., Lippa, S.M. & LAnge, R. T. (2019) Factors related to perceived burden among caregivers of service members/veterans floowing TBI. Rehabilitation Psychology, 643 (3), 307-319
Shapiro, S., Brown, K.B., & Biegel, G. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology 1(2), 105-115. doi:10.1037/1931-39184.108.40.206
There are many ways that we can stay healthy, such as eat right and exercise. One thing we don’t often hear about is caring acts of kindness. When we do kind things for others, we feel better and become healthier people. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to share just why caring acts of kindness lifts us up.
Giving back has an effect on your body.
In and article on Huffington Post titled we are able to read about how helping others promotes health. In the article the authors comment on studies that show the effects of donating to charity has on the body. The area of the brain responsible for feelings of reward is triggered. Feel-good chemicals release and often spur you to do more kind acts. This is what psychologists often call “helper’s high.”
There is more than just a physical feel-good sensation that we experience when performing acts of kindness; our minds get a boost too! If we donate to charity or volunteer to help the elderly at a senior center we get a boost to our self-esteem. Ultimately we can become more optimistic and positive people. The more regularly that we do kind acts the stronger social connectedness becomes, and the more confident we can become. “Being a force for good in a friend’s life can help build a lasting bond. When you help others, you give off positive vibes, which can rub off on your peers and improve your friendships,” according to a study by the National Institutes of Health. “Both parties will contribute to maintaining a mutually beneficial dynamic. Having a positive impact on someone else could help you change your own outlook and attitude.”
With a positive outlook and better physical health we begin to have a clearer head. UnitedHealth Group found that 78% of volunteers reported that they felt less stress after charitable activities. Also they were calmer and more peaceful than people who don’t volunteer.
A clear head gives us a clear perspective on our own situation. This often allows us to be more appreciative of what we have. The Global One Foundation describes volunteering as a way to “promote a deeper sense of gratitude as we recognize more of what is already a blessing/gift/positive in our life.“
Empowered to do good.
When we volunteer or perform acts of kindness, we feel more empowered, rewarded and fulfilled. According to a survey by the UnitedHealth Group, 96% of people who volunteered over the last 12 months said volunteering enriches their sense of purpose.
Whether with a large group of people in a volunteer organization, or just between two friends exchanging words of advice, helping people creates a feeling of community. “Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a drop-in center can help reduce loneliness and isolation,” according to the Mental Health Foundation.
Caring Acts of Kindness are Contagious.
According to a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Cambridge and University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, acts of kindness, giving of our time, and volunteering are contagious. “When we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling,” the study states, “Which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves.“ So, it begins to spread from one person to the next, and hopefully across the world, to create a more caring place for all of us to live in.
We are happy to celebrate the positive effects of caring acts of kindness on the body which also helps us feel more empowered. With all of the people we come into contact with while sharing our acts of kindness, the “caring cooty” becomes contagious, spreading throughout our caring communities.
There are so many ways to brighten our days and one of these is through caring acts. Often these acts help promote positive emotions and health while making the world better through helping others. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrate people and organizations that promote caring for others, communities and the world. Lipstick Angels is one of these companies that have caught our eye by bringing beautiful caring to cancer patients. With a mission to “strengthen dignity, hope, and self-esteem of individuals with cancer or other chronic illnesses,” we are happy and excited to share this caring company!
Lipstick Angels began providing various beauty services such as makeup application, facials and skin care, aromatherapy and hand massages in support of cancer patients in March of 2012. “When the program began at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Lipstick Angels offered one, three-hour session per week. Due to the program’s success, sessions are now available up to three times a week in Cedar-Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Cancer Center.” (Lipstick Angels) A little over a year later, Lipstick Angels became a 501c3 nonprofit. Then they began energetically fundraising to expand their caring program. They received their first grant from the Annenberg Foundation about a month later. This was followed by another grant from the Good News Foundation, and continue to receive grants to this day! Additionally, Lipstick Angels has support from partner companies like Credo Beauty to help them bring joy and beauty to those they care for!
In July of 2014 they began a program at Long Beach Memorial’s new Todd Cancer Institute, which is a leading cancer management facility that offers an integrative approach to medicine. The year following they added one more: the City of Hope National Medical Center. In late 2016 they broadened their reach to the East Coast to include the NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. Lipstick Angels’ program complements the hospital’s existing care programs to a “T!” This was all because NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center is one of the nation’s most integrated and comprehensive academic health care providers who are dedicated to quality and compassionate care to patients.
This company is celebrated on various media outlets like social media platforms and television. “In December 2013, Renata [the founder of Lipstick Angels] appeared on the internationally broadcast show, the Doctors, and again on the nationally aired Queen Latifah Show. Both shows brought Lipstick Angels’ national and international attention. Since then we have received requests to launch Lipstick Angels programs from patients, caregivers and hospital staff in numerous states and countries including India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.” (Lipstick Angels)
VALUES & PILLARS OF EXCELLENCE
Values help set standards and guide organizations. Lipstick Angels has a group of caring values that we can cheer for!
Couple these caring values with the following three pillars, and Lipstick Angels provides the caring framework and foundation for all they do!
We are so excited to hear more about Lipstick Angels’ activities as time goes on; we hope to see you grow and thrive. Thank you to all of the Lipstick Angels and all of the Angel teams for all the caring you do to help bring more caring into the world!