getting better 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 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.)
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.
Unified Caring Association (UCA) strives to continue promoting caring around the world. But how can someone start performing caring acts? One of the best ways is to start close to home. Help out at a local food bank or shelter or donate clothing or personal care items to those in need. UCA did just this in our local community where our headquarters are located.
UCA jumped into action when we learned about an urgent need for supplies at Great Northern Services (GNS). GNS serves about 10,000 lunches over the summer months to school aged children up to the age of 18 years old. GNS sponsors the USDA Summer Food Service Program donates bag lunches during the work week (Monday-Friday) in the summer months of June, July and August with no cost to the children’s families that receive the lunches.
Supplies that were needed included kitchen utensils, pots, food containers and lunch bags for every child and every lunch all summer long. These supplies were needed by the teams to put the lunches together and deliver them to the kids. We are happy to report that smiles were on everyone’s faces as the lunches were served up. It was a huge pleasure to help support the caring efforts provided by GNS and the USDA Food Service Program to serve up nutritious meals in the community of Siskiyou county. We continue sending our best wishes to all of the teams and every child they serve!
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association and keep up to date on UCA’s caring acts? Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Other ways to keep up with UCA activities are on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!
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.
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.
The Camp Fire
When the news of the Camp Fire reached the Unified Caring Association (UCA) office our team was hopeful. We hoped that the fire would be quickly controlled. Our prayers went out to all humans and animals that they would escape the fires unharmed. And we sent our caring to fire victims. We were devastated to hear that the entire city of Paradise, California was incinerated. The news reported 18,793 structures were destroyed, and that the fire had spared nothing, leaving total devastation. Our hearts were broken, and we wondered how the survivors could go on. UCA reached out to various agencies in hope of finding a meaningful way to help. Understandably, emergency agencies were over-burdened with phone calls. Many lacked the manpower to handle the donations they were receiving. Luckily, our fearless team member Luna kept at it! She was determined to make sure that UCA extended our caring to fire victims. So, she kept making calls. Eventually, Luna made a connection with a wonderful woman named Nanette, and magic happened!
A Caring Hero
Nanette is a caring hero for many reasons. She runs a non-profit unrelated to the fire effort to begin with! Nanette had heard that her friend, a volunteer at her non-profit, had lost her home in the fire. Time went by and Nanette was unable to reach her. So, Nanette set out to find her friend. While searching for her friend, she saw first-hand the devastation of the Camp Fire. Luckily, her friend was located safely, and Nanette decided to create a caring event to help the fire victims. She set out to give those who had lost so much a caring holiday! Nanette researched the needs of the community and created a caring holiday event!
Some UCA Support
The UCA CARE team asked Nanette to share with us how she felt we could help the most. She explained that expectant mothers had lost everything in the fires – they had nothing for their newborns, no blankets, no clothes. We were told that the children had lost all of their toys and holiday cheer was in short supply. As a result, the UCA team of elves immediately swung into action! No baby item was left on the shelf! We bought baby sleepers, onesies, t-shirts, leggings, blankets, coats, socks, sweatpants, sweatshirts, pajamas and cozy clothes for toddlers. In addition, we also bought 80 gifts for children – backpacks, school supplies, plush animals so they would have something to hold, creative art kits and books. Plus, we sent cheery Christmas decorations, notes of encouragement and … our hearts … we truly sent them our hearts.
A Caring Holiday Miracle
And so it was, on December 22 at the Eagle Lodge in Chico, California a holiday party was held. People who had lost everything came to celebrate the miracle of togetherness. Children sat on Santa’s lap and received their gifts. Families ate together and for a moment in time, caring filled a place in their hearts where fear and sadness had once taken hold.
Our hearts go out to all who suffered in the California fires this year. May they be cared for, supported and loved through the challenging days ahead as they rebuild their lives. We are incredibly grateful to the firefighters and first responders that fearlessly serve and protect us all day after day. Our hearts are touched by all of the caring heroes in the world who miraculously appear when tragedy strikes. In tragedy, we are often reminded of the true value of caring. If there is caring in the world, we can never lose everything.
Since 2016, the Unified Caring Association Scholarship program has awarded over one hundred scholarships to caring students. The UCA scholarship program is designed to reward kids for caring while celebrating and encouraging their kindheartedness. Nationwide, program specific scholarships have been created by UCA. We invite students to write a short 500-word essay answering a caring prompt. Some examples of scholarship essay questions are: “How do you plan to live a life that promotes peace and Unity? How will you create the journey to fulfill this purpose?”, “ If you were the President of the United States, what would you do to promote Peace and Unity?” , “How can caring and kindness be implemented more in your personal life and in your school?” , and most recently, “If you were the “Caring Ambassador” at your school, what would you do to inspire other students to be more caring?”
The UCA scholarship program is warmly embraced by school guidance counsellors, teachers and students alike. As the students write beautiful essays on the topic of caring they engage their caring intelligence and skills. This reminds us all of the importance of kindness.
UCA staff report that each essay has its own beauty. “Our scholarship entrants touch our hearts with their caring essays. It is so hard to choose the winners! We have been known to add additional awards in recognition of their caring.”
The essays are scored on a “caring rubric” rather than the traditional academic rubric most scholarship contests adhere to. This allows students who would not typically be awarded scholarships to be celebrated and awarded for their unique talent … caring and kindness.
To read the caring essays written by the UCA Scholarship Awardees, please click the picture below!
22nd of March — Philosophy through Photography
This a day to celebrate the focus on the importance nature, trees, and water. World Water Day-Water Crisis Explained ( 8 minute read ) via World water day 22 nd March — Philosophy through Photography
Unified Caring Association’s Women Wishing Women Well clothing collection uses all proceeds from the sales to support women. If an article of clothing remains in the store for 8 weeks, UCA donates the clothing article to women who are in challenging situations. Some examples of these situations are domestic violence, abandonment, fires, earthquakes and floods.
This month, our program was pleased to donate 3 full boxes of high-end women’s clothing to the Women Giving Back (WGB) charity in Sterling, Virginia. They were especially excited to receive the many plus sized garments that we sent, as they are often difficult to source.
WGB is a nonprofit clothing boutique providing a dignified shopping experience for at-risk women & children at no cost. WGB collects and distributes new or like-new clothing to women and children in Northern Virginia who are in transition or crisis. Working with the local shelters and care providers, WGB holds a monthly “store” on the second Saturday of every month to help these women and their children. UCA is happy to support the caring work of WGB.
We also donated 12 garments from our store to Choices, a smaller resource group for women in crisis in Mt. Shasta, CA. Choices is a non-profit organization that helps to infuse real hope and real help into the lives of women, men, mamas, daddies, grandparents, their little ones and families in our local communities. Thanks for your caring work, Choices!