So much of today’s conversations are around the pursuit of happiness. It seems to be intangible but important to most of us. If we take a step back and ask ourselves one root question we can begin a journey filled with happiness. What is one thing we can do to increase our happiness that also helps us be more healthy? The answer: Giving with care. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) love to share research, ideas and inspiration on how we can harness giving to help promote happiness in our lives and the lives of others.
Giving with Care Helps Us Feel Happy
UCA has many ways to share caring near and far, with ourselves, and those we hold close to our hearts. Some of these are in the forms of gifts, resources and tools, and the gift of time. All of these options help us feel happy. It is our joy to hear that there have been numerous studies on this very subject. These studies conclude that giving to others actually helps promote happiness. “Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results [in comparison to her colleges] when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.These good feelings are reflected in our biology.” (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you) What else is great is that happiness can be increased by acts of caring and kindness. For example, the giving and receiving of Swedish massages reducing anxiety, depression, and stress hormones.
There are many studies out there on happiness and many are very informative on the impact of caring acts. One such study was done by researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In this study the researchers wanted to see if there is a difference of happiness levels in the brain between just saying that you will give verses actually giving. “(They) told 50 people they’d be receiving about $100 over a few weeks. Half of the people were asked to commit to spending that money on themselves, and half were asked to spend it on someone they knew.” (https://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/) What is interesting is that the researchers began the study by asking each participant to think about someone they would like to give a gift to and place a monetary value on that generosity. Then they scanned the brains of the participants with an MRI machine to measure the activity levels of areas in the brain that are associated with social behavior, decision-making, generosity and happiness. “Their choices—and their brain activity—seemed to depend on how they had pledged to spend the money earlier. Those who had agreed to spend money on other people tended to make more generous decisions throughout the experiment, compared to those who had agreed to spend on themselves.” (https://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/) Ultimately, it didn’t matter how much the participants spent on others. The results showed that giving helped with increased feelings of happiness. We are happy to read that the participants in this study reported higher levels of happiness upon completion of the experiment. There was an additional surprise for the researchers during these scans. The participants also had more interaction between altruism and happiness!
Altruism, tell me more please?
Altruism is when we put the needs of others before those of our own. Some examples are holding the door open for someone entering or leaving at the same time as you, offering your bus seat to a senior, or our favorite is offering to pick up coffee our colleagues. These care-giving acts have positive effects upon our mental wellbeing and helps reduce stress.
If we feel happier, then we tend to be healthier too! In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you) This evidence is backed up by a 1999 study led by Doug Oman of UC Berkeley in California. He found that of the seniors who volunteered for multiple organizations were almost 50% less likely to die than non-volunteers. “Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t.” (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you) Why is this connection between giving and happiness so strong? Most of the research published on the web shows that when people give and volunteer, it activates areas of the brain connected with pleasure, trust and social connection. We often feel this as a warm glow or what is often referred to as the ‘helper’s high.’
Ideas on Ways to Give
Giving with care is a great way to promote happiness in our lives and those we encounter. Now the question comes into play, how do we pick one or more ways to give? Do we start big or small? With those we know, or with someone we pass on the street? The truth is that we can start giving in so many ways. Since there are so many ways to give, we at UCA want to list some ideas.
Happiness comes in so many forms. Giving is a great and easy start. We have big smiles at UCA when ever we have a chance to give with care. We are happy to be able to share this blog with our readers and members. Thank you for the gift of your time while reading this blog.
Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information on our website and through blogs that share caring in our community, activities, and reviews. We also send out caring posts on our social media accounts (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to give inspiration throughout the week.
In most communities there are times when we are faced with challenges, negativity or bullying. The internet has not been spared from this, especially on social media platforms. This newest form of internet harassment is often referred to as cyberbullying. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to help source tools and share resources to help others and our children learn the skills needed to stop current forms of bullying and prevent any future bullying from happening.
Bullying and forms of hate or discrimination have been around for most, if not all of human history. With the advent of the internet in the 1990’s there came a new form of bullying: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to harass, trash talk, or bully a person. Often times this is typically done by sending messages that can be intimidating or threatening in nature. One of the first pervasive examples of this is seen through Monica Lewinski’s experiences. At this time her private life became public, and people began to ridicule her as fast as a wildfire in dry grass. Since then she has become a prominent anti-bullying advocate, even giving a strong TedTalk on the subject.
Cyberbullying has become a more common issue in households and schools, especially for children and teens. Often we hear about messages that are hurtful or degrading left on one or more kid’s social media account from their peers. This begs the question: what tools and organizations can we turn to to help our children dispel cyberbullying?
Stomp Out Bullying
UCA has aligned itself with Stomp Out Bullying, a leading national nonprofit that dedicates itself to changing to a caring culture for all children. This organization works to prevent and reduce bullying/cyberbullying. Also Stomp Out Bullying educates people against LGBTQ discrimination and racism in an effort to deter violence in schools and in communities (online and offline) across the U.S. This organization teaches effective responses and solutions to bullying, cyberbullying, etc. They do this using in-school and online education programs for kids and teens. In addition to their education programs, Stomp Out Bullying provides help for people in need or at-risk of suicide. They raise awareness through public service announcements, peer mentoring programs in schools, and social media campaigns.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Every year the first Monday of October is World Day of Bullying Prevention™ where students, communities, and schools raise awareness by wearing the color blue. Stomp Out Bullying has unique blue shirts to commemorate this day and further bring this national challenge into the spotlight. But, we can all just unify under the color blue to show support as well. This strong unified voice will help the world hear and see that our culture needs to change to be more caring. This is the 12th year that Stomp Out Bullying has began this quest and they have a wonderful slogan for their shirts: ‘Make Bullying History.’ This event will help “…speak for all of our youth who are tormented by bullying, cyberbullying, cruelty, hatred, racism, homophobia and LGBTQ discrimination…[we] stand together to MAKE BULLYING HISTORY!” (Stomp Out Bullying)
Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information and resources on our website and through blogs that share caring in our community, activities, and reviews. We also send out caring posts on our social media accounts (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to give inspiration throughout the week.
Have you ever felt so good after helping someone else? If so you are not alone! There are so many ways to volunteer your time and skills to help others while giving yourself the gift of self-care. Unified Caring Association (UCA) gives more than three cheers for volunteers.
Volunteering does more than we often think!
When we give our time and knowledge through volunteering we feel a ‘helper’s high’. This phrase was coined by Allen Luks. He defines this as “…the sense of euphoria that can be experienced soon after helping someone else.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) During this ‘high’ there are two phases. The strongest is the first phase. This phase is characterized by an uplifting and euphoric mood. This is followed by phase two where there is a longer lasting sense of calm. This is almost like taking three big, quick breaths for the mind! What is most interesting is that “..the greatest effect (the high) was observed in helping strangers.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) As when we talk about meditation and or mindfulness activities we see a reduced risk in depression. We infer that the same positive effects happen during volunteering activities as those of meditation and or grounding yourself in nature.
How else can volunteering help us?
Along with creating a healthy, caring social network “…volunteerism was associated with a markedly lower risk of dying. Depending on the study, the decrease in death rates ranged between 20 to 60%.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM) This lower risk of dying can be linked to how those who volunteer take care of their own personal health. Often times those who volunteer make a larger effort to take care of their well-being. An example is regular preventive care visits to their doctor.
Sharing caring through connection
When we are volunteering we are likely exerting “…its positive health effects by connecting people to others and to an activity that they find meaningful. Achieving connection, purpose, and meaning is critical to attenuating stressors of life—particularly loneliness. Since stress is a major cause of disease, especially heart disease, the ability to quench the need for connection, purpose, and meaning can bring about beneficial and salutary changes for people. And when there is [a] purpose and we are connected to others, we take care of ourselves.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/why-volunteers-live-longer-science-of-kindness/?fbclid=IwAR0xw41uqf5GZK8oyRS6pKCLUzkZgliOe0GTFf0qpNnlfaCOCaDEbnskURM)
When UCA held a recent scholarship contest. One of the questions asked was in regards to if there is one thing you would change in the world, what would it be? We are still moved by one response written. This was by TiAnna Olivas. She writes, “Volunteering not only has a positive impact on the people and organization, it reshapes the way you view life as well. Volunteering provides the opportunity to meet new people, gain new experiences, and make a productive influence on the world around you…I have gained so much from my personal experiences with volunteering. I volunteer with the local pantry and the people there are so kind and have taught me so much. Volunteering with them, I have witnessed how they live an abundant life, filled with making the people around them happy. I strive to be like them, being a light in this dark world. (https://www.unifiedcaring.org/tianna-olivas/)
Unified Caring Association has suggested resources to begin, continue or expand volunteering. One resource is the National Volunteering Caregiving Alliance. Through this network members can connect to about 700 communities throughout the U.S. This network is to help provide volunteer caregivers by connecting community programs and organizations to those in need.
A second resource available for UCA members is access to The Corporation for National and Community Service. This organization plays a key role in supporting the culture of service in the U.S.A. It is here that you can find a volunteering opportunity. There are so many volunteer categories, the sky’s the limit! For example we could search for volunteer opportunities in food banks and soup kitchens, collecting clothing and items in need for the homeless, or spending time assisting the elderly.
In short, volunteering is not only helpful to those you are spending time with, but helpful in our own self-care journey as well. Let’s give many cheers for those of us that spend time volunteering. Thank you for all you do!
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on UCA, 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!
Want to create a better world? Unified Caring Association’s scholarship awardees have some ideas for you!
The scholarship team at Unified Caring Association asked high school students to tell us what one thing they would change to make the world a better place. We didn’t expect to receive such excellent answers! Such a young group couldn’t possibly tackle any major problems of the world in a 500 word essay, could they? The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, with each essay submission we received, we became more amazed! The emotional intelligence of the students came shining through their writing. Every essay was a caring masterpiece worthy of celebration and praise. Each student had ideas to create a better world! How would our scholarship team ever pick the top ten? And who were these kids that were coming up with these great ideas? Each of their essays inspired us!
So, what does a better world look like to high school students?
We discovered as we read and reviewed each essay, that our high school students want meaningful changes. Specifically, they would like to change the way we communicate, interact and consider one another. Many wrote about ideas to create greater understanding and mutual respect in the world. For example, Shreya Mapadath wrote, “Given the ability to change one aspect of the world to make it a more caring place, I would give each individual the ability to fully understand one another.” Adding later, “… when we are able to see people as the fusion of countless elements, we can truly begin to both understand and appreciate their complexity, and ultimately, care for them.”
Similarly, Olivia Dixon wrote about the need for greater understanding of our global neighbors. She stated, “To make the world a more caring place, we need to break down cultural ignorance and bring people together through cultural understanding.” Additionally warning us of, “… stereotypes and negative views that shape the way that an entire group of people is seen.”
Last but not least, Nicole Svagr shared in her essay how understanding and empathy has helped her to forge new friendships and become a better a person. Based on examples from history and her own personal experience Nicole believes that empathy holds the key to a better world.
Where can we read these caring student essays?
Without a doubt, the next generation is concerned about the level of compassion and understanding in the world. For this reason, Unified Caring Association (UCA) wanted to provide them a platform for their caring ideas. In an effort to promote caring in our next generation, the UCA Scholarship Program invites students to think about how caring impacts our world, and to share their caring thoughts and ideas in writing. Every essay entry undergoes the careful reviews of our scholarship team members. The scholarship selection process is based on a caring rubric. Scholarship awardees are contacted and congratulated. In addition, top ten essays are published on the UCA website for the world to see. The UCA team believes that these caring student essays will inspire others to be more caring. With that in mind, we invite you to visit our website, read and share each wonderfully caring essay!
Please read our other blogs featuring UCA student scholarship awardees:
To show you care, invest in others.
If you are looking for a way to make a difference today, start with those at arm’s-length! One small change we can all make to create more caring in the world is to thoughtfully carve out some time and energy to invest in others. When we acknowledge and take time for others we let them know that they matter. The simple act of circling back to check in on someone can make a great difference. The daily act of making eye contact and listening with our full attention are also purposefully caring acts. In the end, we create more caring connections and everyone is better for the experience.
What truly connects us?
Modern technology has completely changed our methods of communication and connection in the past ten years. As a result, you might expect this generation to feel differently about making “in person” connections with others. After all, it’s easier to text or instant message someone at your convenience rather than pick up the phone or make the effort to go and visit someone. But, have we created a societal problem by introducing technology into our relationships? It seems that each new report from the Pew Research Center shows increases in online usage, and smartphones. The utilization of technology to create and manage relationships has become the norm. Suffice to say, with so many of us online, there are many opinions on the effects of technology on human interactions. However, the one thing we all seem to agree upon is that there is no substitute for direct human connection.
Unplug for a better connection!
Most people will agree that an emoticon will not ever be able to convey the joy of seeing your sister’s baby for the first time, nor will it appropriately express your sadness over the loss of a loved one. Yet, the selection of emoticons has become part of a modern day communication strategy. Instead of placing our efforts into being at the side of a friend who is in need of support, people are putting their effort into the selection of the most appropriate GIF and calling it a day! But, truly caring for one another requires that we show up in person and give of ourselves. That’s something no emoticon or GIF could ever accomplish! When we invest in others we create a better connection than high speed internet could ever provide!
Students are asking us to unplug and invest in one another.
Unified Caring Association asked high school students what one thing they would change to make the world more caring. One scholarship awarded essay entry written by Caleb Joshua Cox reminds us of the importance of investing in each other. Caleb’s essay makes a heartfelt case for the value of tenderness and true human connection and caring. He encourages us to share our time and knowledge with those around us to make the world a more caring place. Another scholarship awarded essay written by Elaine Yan asks us to seek freedom from the distractions of social media, and demonstrate our caring by giving each our full attention to others. Notably, the stand out essay topic in UCA’s most recent scholarship contest was the negative effect of social media. We are relieved to see that our next generation understands the value of investing the time to connect with others.
To learn more about UCA’s most recent scholarship round, read our blog Change One Thing To Create a Better World.
Think abundantly. Energy follows intention.
Our thinking habits can be very predictive of our outcomes.
Training our minds to see the positive, focusing on abundance and investing our energy into the manifestation of good outcomes can help to make our goals more achievable. In order to see the positive – we must be the positive! It has been said that we become what we think, and there is certainly some truth to that! Positive thoughts definitely help to create positive results. Remember: energy follows intention, so if we desire something positive in life, we cannot be distracted by the negative!
Break the habit of negativity!
How do I break the habit of negativity? It’s true that old habits are heard to break! But, a simple shift and re-framing of our language can be a big help. How we talk about our life experiences makes a difference. Rather than referring to a disappointing situation as a failure, we can shift our thinking and language to describe it as an opportunity for improvement. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, we find ourselves looking forward to the changes we can make to improve our future experiences. In this way, small shifts in perspective can make great incremental changes in our perception. Change your perspective – change your reality!
Start the day off right!
It’s so exciting to realize that we can create a more positive world today just by sprucing up our own thinking! We can go forward into each day with a positive mindset and actually create a better world! Starting off the day with a positive affirmation or two can help us to climb out of a negative mindset and harness our positive energy. In addition, they are a powerful self-esteem booster! When we point our “inner voice” in a more positive direction more positive results become possible. By reducing negative comments about ourselves and the world around us, our opportunities open up. We stop talking ourselves down into believing that we are not good enough, and instead start driving positive change into our lives.
What if I get stuck?
Look, everyone gets stuck from time to time. As we grow, we change, and the same things that used to fit into our lives nicely may feel out of place to you now. If you find yourself feeling negative about a situation despite your best efforts, that’s a clue to re-evaluate. It may be that the situation as you are experiencing it, no longer serves you. Meaning, you have grown past it’s purpose in your life and are ready for something new!
Self care is the way to go!
Taking time to re-calibrate and focus the direction your life is going in is essential to happiness. Checking in with yourself to see how you are really feeling about a situation, rather than just pushing through it, can make all the difference in the world! True self-care requires that we create a regular routine of de-stressing, accessing and assessing. People who have great self-care practices often use relaxation techniques and have someone to talk to when they are feeling stressed. Employing these two self-care practices alone can make a huge difference in our quality of life. Self-care is not selfish … it is necessary!
We asked students to tell us what change they would like to see in the world.
If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? Unified Caring Association’s scholarship team posed this very question to high school students in their recent scholarship contest. Students were instructed to consider what they would change to make the world better. High school seniors and juniors were invited to submit answers to the question in the form of a short essay. Students were able to let their creative freedom completely flow with such an open ended question! Their essay answers could be about anything, as long as they described how their one change would create a more caring world.
The response was amazing!
As you may have expected, the answers to the scholarship essay prompt covered an wide variety of topics. So many great ideas were shared! Students freely expressed their concerns about the world we live in and suggested some very well thought out solutions. As a result, the scholarship judges really had their work cut out for them! Each essay was a treasure!
Take for example the essay submitted by TiAnna Olivas. She answered the scholarship essay prompt very directly by stating, ” I would have people possess a more selfless heart and mindset.” In addition, she discussed the merits of engaging in community service, volunteering and paying it forward. Any one of the changes she suggested in her essay would make a notable impact!
Similarly, the essay we received from Briana Moore suggested implementing community service to benefit health, community and personal development. Another key point she made in her essay is the disconnecting effect of social media on relationships. Briana wants us to step away from technology and go out and help someone! And we think that’s a great idea!
As evidenced by the essays posted on the UCA Scholarship Announcement page, our student writers have many great ideas to make the world a better place. Please take some time to read the essays our high school friends submitted. You won’t be disappointed! They remind us with their essays that we are here for one another, and that positive change is possible!
Release what no longer serves you to move forward in your life
To move forward in life, you must un-anchor from practices you have outgrown and let go of what no longer serves you. Staying stuck in old habits and patterns will keep you stuck with old results and disappointments. Moving forward depends on your ability to let go of and release what no longer serves you. Therefore, to create a new result you must define a new approach.
Do you ever feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or that you run from the moment you wake up until the day is done? These feelings are clues that it may be time to re-evaluate what occupies your time and see what you can let go of. As you re-evaluate what’s important, you may find that some things you previously felt were important to have in your life, are now only holding you back. Because we are creatures of habit, changing this can be difficult. However, it’s totally worth the effort! Taking time for personal reflection is a great investment in your happiness. So, reflect, rethink and reinvent often!
Move forward by looking inward
To move on to greater happiness you are called to release old habits and patterns and bravely travel a new path. When you’ve learned all you can learn from a situation, it is time to evolve! By letting go of what no longer serves us we make room for in our life for more that DOES! We cannot fill what is already full, so we must make room for the new!
You may be thinking, “This all makes sense on the surface, but how exactly do I do this?” Self assessment tools are a great place to start. Through a series of specially chosen questions a good self assessment test can identify opportunities for improvement in your life. Your review of the areas needing attention may even identify a core issue you can improve upon. For example, if time management is problem, the underlying issue may be that you have a hard time asking others for help. Similarly, if you are feeling dissatisfied at work, the underlying issue could be that you are in the wrong profession. Self assessment tools can help us to see our life in a different light and guide us toward the answers we are searching for.
Self-assessment tools are one of the many self-care benefits that Unified Caring Association members enjoy. UCA created their user friendly self-assessment test to help their members along their journey of self-improvement. They routinely encourage their members through social media posts to slow down and take a look inward to create a more caring lifestyle. The reviews are in, if you are looking for caring support, self assessments and caring resources, Unified Caring Association can help!
Small acts of caring create a great impact.
A small kindness can make a big difference in the world. In fact, it’s often the little things in life that make our days seem brighter. Too often, people feel powerless to make a difference in the world, and consider their contributions to be insignificant. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, it’s the day to day small acts of caring that we share that keep us all connected. Collectively, our small acts of caring create a great impact. As a matter of fact, the world needs more of them!
A caring act does not have to be grandiose to be impactful. For example, a warm smile or a sincere compliment can create a moment of caring connection. Similarly, remembering to check in on someone that is going through a tough time can ease the burden of their challenge. These small acts of caring create a great impact and take very little effort. Anyone can make a positive impact through these small acts of caring!
In addition, making a small shift in the way we communicate can be a great kindness. Certainly, the way we listen and communicate with others can have a positive or a negative effect on their day. When we align our listening with caring, greater understanding is possible. When we align our communication with caring, our ideas and opinions are better received. Therefore, taking steps to intentionally align with caring can reduce conflict in our lives and create healthier connections with others. This small act of caring creates a very big impact, and costs nothing but your time and effort.
Challenge yourself to small acts of caring each day to make an impact
A great way to spread more caring in the world is to challenge yourself to a daily act of caring. Can you imagine what an awesome world it would be if everyone did one extra act of caring each day? The impact would be amazing! UCA’s 365 Days of Caring Challenge gives daily caring prompts to help you create more caring in the world. Their daily caring challenges can help you to become more caring to your family, community and self. The prompts are easy to do and fun! By adding just one more caring act to your already caring lifestyle, you can really make a difference in the world!
To learn more about the caring resources offered by Unified Caring Association, please visit our website. Please enjoy our other caring blog posts: The privilege of a lifetime is being authentic and Slow down to improve your perceptive.