Self Care, Sharing

Letting Go of Being Good

Letting Go of Being  Good

“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. 

Bounded Rationality

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. 

letting-go-of-being-good-video

We at UCA are always trying to share caring information, resources, and news to our caring community. If you would like to read more about letting go, problem solving, and engaging with our emotions. Or we have daily caring notes on social media (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter). We are looking forward to sharing the caring post with you!

Scholarships, Unified Caring Association

Fall 2019 Scholarship is Open!

Fall 2019 Scholarship is Open

Unified Caring Association (UCA) upholds the philosophy that education is one of the important ways to help bring more caring into the world. To see this happen we hold scholarship contests throughout the year. We are excited to say that we have one currently open and have so much excitement as the essay applications are arriving in our mail. We have been seeing requests from our caring community asking us to tell you more about our scholarships. 

CLICK HERE for information about our current fall 2019 scholarship for high school juniors/seniors.

Prompt:

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?

Entrants:

US High School Juniors and Seniors

Essay Requirement:

We require an original essay answering the prompt “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” Each submission must clearly explain why they feel this change would make a caring impact in the world.  Essays must be at least 500 words.

Fall Scholarship Awards:

First Place:

The top 10 winners will receive a scholarship award of $350.00

Honorable Mentions:

The next 10 best caring essays will receive scholarship awards of $100.

Deadlines:

Opens: 10/1/19

Closes: 11/29/19

Winners Announced: 12/13/19 

Essays arrive by the day and we are bursting with joy to read each fall scholarship. Often we have a buzz of excitement in the office with each one! Thank you to all of the teenagers who enter their essays. We are celebrating each of you and will be hard-pressed to pick out the winners! Best of luck!… and we are looking forward to reading your essays.

Want to read more about UCA scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Feel Good News

New Technology that is a Breath of Fresh Air

Eos Bioreactor is a breath of fresh air

“Our goal at Hypergiant Industries is to use the world’s best technologies to solve the world’s biggest problems,” said Hypergiant CEO and founder, Ben Lamm.

We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) love to hear good news that helps the world become a more caring place to live. When we find some caring news, we are eager to share it with our caring community. There is a new bioreactor that scrubs more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air than most trees!

Eos Bioreactor

The Eos Bioreactor

This bioreactor is from an innovative team at Hypergiant Industries, and its name is the Eos Bioreactor. The Eos Bioreactor uses artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize the growth and production of algae and to capture carbon. It is unique to use algae, because it is 400x better at removing carbon particulates than trees. The reactor in addition “…can process about two tons of oxygen in a year, which is about the same as an acre of trees.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/algae-bioreactor-captures-as-much-carbon-as-acre-of-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3krS_3A18hn01RhdNeroYw-T9QOclWbQhQzx4ammY4RJ_KJKkLOjMQ-DY) The Eos Bioreactor is compact and measures to be 3×3 feet wide. In comparison to similar bioreactor prototypes, it only takes up a small amount of space. This is a breakthrough piece of technology for carbon capture. Our hearts are singing even louder because Hypergiant plans to release the blueprints online later this year! The goal is to empower individuals in the online maker community to create their own versions. Hopefully these will be smaller and modular for use in residential units.

This design was possible thanks to recent machine intelligence breakthroughs. The machine intelligence helped the designers by improving the efficiency of their design for the bioreactor’s brain — the autonomous health monitoring that allows it to be aware of and relate to its surroundings. “By constantly monitoring and managing the amount and type of light, available CO2, temperature, PH, biodensity, harvest cycles and more, the reactor can create the perfect environment to maximize carbon sequestration.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/algae-bioreactor-captures-as-much-carbon-as-acre-of-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3krS_3A18hn01RhdNeroYw-T9QOclWbQhQzx4ammY4RJ_KJKkLOjMQ-DY)

What is Algae?

Algae is a single celled organism that is very efficient at multiplying quickly. (I am sure some of us who own ponds or pools know this all too well.) It does this through the absorption of light and CO2. To top it off algae can grow almost anywhere and can survive with little nutrients. In this case, the algae in the bioreactor eats “…CO2, it also produces biomass, which can then be harvested and processed to create fuel, oils, nutrient-rich high-protein food sources, fertilizers, plastics, cosmetics, and more.”

Eco Friendly and Beyond…

This is a new piece of technology that is eco friendly and sustainable. Can we add more to the excitement? Yes we can! To add more ribbons to this bioreactor Hypergiant Industries will be focusing on using “…recycled ocean plastics to create the devices and encourages the community to do so as well.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/algae-bioreactor-captures-as-much-carbon-as-acre-of-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3krS_3A18hn01RhdNeroYw-T9QOclWbQhQzx4ammY4RJ_KJKkLOjMQ-DY) Cleaning up our planet is a big part of being a caring community. The excess carbon in the earth’s atmosphere is one of the largest reasons for the increasing number of massive catastrophes for our planet. Hypergiant industries is looking into the Eos Bioreactor in space crafts and colonization. “I want humanity to colonize space because I want to explore the cosmos to better understand our place within it—I don’t want us to colonize space because we are running away from our home planet. This device is one of our first efforts focused on fixing the planet we are on.” (Hypergiant CEO and founder, Ben Lamm) We cannot wait for more details to be announced next year!

Would you like to read more blogs form Unified Caring Association? We have more blogs like ‘R’ is for Reforestation, Investing in Green Spaces, and One Tree Planted. Or how about a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

Caring Connections, Connecting, Sharing, Unified Caring Association

Giving Helps Promote Happiness

Giving Helps Promote Happiness

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.

Researching Happiness

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

Health

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.

giving infographic

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.

Caring Challenge, Feel Good News, Sharing

#BeKindTogether

kindness challenge

kindness challenge

Just like acts of gratitude, kindness can go far. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are so excited to share that DoTerra has organizing worldwide 15 Day Kindness Challenge. We love a good challenge! This is similar to our Caring Challenge where each day there are suggestions for the day to promote caring and kindness.

Diana Quote kindness

Acts of kindness help change the world.

“One small act of kindness can change someone’s life. So imagine what millions of acts can do.” (DoTerra) This movement is all over social media with the hashtag #bekindtogether. The goal is to reach 250,000 acts of kindness. Each person who chooses to pledge doing 15 acts of kindness for 15 days adds up fast. This movement began August 29th, and they are currently on day 9.

Kindness Ambassador

The person who organized this movement is Leon Logothetis. He is known at DoTerra at the Kindness Ambassador. Leon is quoted on their website saying “Kindness makes people feel less alone.” We find this to be true in most areas around the world. Some examples are relief efforts in areas where natural disaster has hit and the homeless receiving gifts of meals by others who are passing by. Leon is the perfect person to lead this movement of kindness. He travels the world spreading kindness. He has visited each continent, 90 countries thus far. Each life changing experience is filled with kindness and goodness of strangers. Leon is harnessing the power that comes for acts of kindness small and large in the effort to help change the world to be more caring and kind.

Would you like to pledge to spread caring and kindness? Click Here to link to sign up for the 15 Day Kindness Challenge!

Thank you to every ‘socialpreneur’ across the world spreading kindness and caring. Keep up the good work, we love it!

#bekindtogether

If you would like to read more about caring communities, UCA activities, and or caring articles on our blogs. If you would like some more caring in your day, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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!

twitter-Thank-You-Scholarships

Want to read more about UCA Scholarships? Click Here to link to our website. Would you like to catch the latest caring UCA activities and blogs? We love to share them on our social media feeds (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) in addition to posting them to the blog sites.

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

getting better care about

Getting-Better-at-What-We-Care-About

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!

Benefits, Caring Connections, Connecting, health care, Self Care, Unified Caring Association

Volunteering for Health

volunteering

Volunteer-health

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/)

Let us at UCA help you with ways to volunteer!

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.

Volunteering word cloud, heart concept

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!