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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) loves helping people of all ages. We see this each year Unified Caring Association holds scholarship contests to help college bound students. This year for one of the scholarships we asked high school juniors and seniors to write short essays responding to the question, “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” We received hundreds of applicants and noticed a trend in some of the responses. Many scholarship award winners targeted the use of social media.
These impressive teenagers want to help make the world a better and more caring place by limiting social media exposure. Their common drive is to help prevent the spread of negativity and cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is similar to bullying seen outside of social networks. When we Google search the word ‘cyberbullying’ the definition is, “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”
Not all online pictures and interactions are negative. There are a fair amount of positive and caring posts online. It is as Cameron M Russell states at the beginning of his essay, “The portrait social media paints of the world can be a beautiful and elegant painting or could be a gruesome and unjust picture…” And this is echoed by Eva McCauley when she states that “… it gives zero insight to how someone’s life actually is.” When there is a disconnect from reality, which we see through the facade of social media and the lack of interaction with people and peers, there is a delay in mental and emotional development that allows for a person to treat others with compassion. Many of the essays submitted also give a remedy for this: true face-to-face connection over digital interaction. “Social media affects one’s identity and empathize (sic) face to face interaction” (Adamaris Cruz Santiago), this is a way we can share our own authenticity.
In recognising the authenticity of others as well as our own we begin to see others as human. We will begin sharing human experiences. We believe that Isabella Peluso says this in a wonderful way. This movement “…would allow the world to be a more caring place through people connecting more in the real world and catalyzing a shift towards change instead of just acknowledging that it needs to happen.” In this positive and caring shift we would see people promoting and celebrating kindness, and caring in all forms of communication. We would also see an increase in celebrating diversity. Kassandra Ruiz mirrors this in her essay. She states, “This is why I believe that if we teach students different cultural traditions and morals, they will understand that everyone is unique and that they must accept each other in order to become successful.”
Acceptance of everyone’s individuality is a key to making the world a better, more caring place. And this shows why acceptance is so important. Through this we will all become more successful and happier people. This is achieved through caring acts and words, personal interactions, and supporting and celebrating diversity. With all of these in mind, things like cyberbullying will be reduced or even eliminated. What a wonderful world we can make! And this quote from the last part of Cameron M Russell’s essay exemplifies how was this caring consciousness can be, “…every step I take and every post I’ll make is to feed my positive energy to the world and my job as a human is to take care of my home and the humans on it.”
We are so proud and moved by all of the essays that were submitted for the scholarships. Thank you to everyone who submitted their essays. If you would like to read more of the submissions for this scholarship, visit our Unified Caring Association’s website. Then click on the Scholarships tab to read scholarship submissions. For further reading about UCA scholarships, we have a blog titled, UCA & Scholarships. Or to read more about making the world a better place, check out our other blogs on caring: How to Improve the World By CARING and It All Starts with Self-Care.
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.
Life is better when we are here for each other.
Sometimes, the pressures in our daily lives can blur our ability to see the common thread that connects us. We can easily become distracted by the unimportant, and miss out on making the caring connections that really matter. The truth is, we all share in a very important responsibility and we are all here for the same reason … we are here for each other.
The Unified Caring Association CARE Program exists for this very reason. Our CARE program partners with projects that provide meaningful support and care to children, animals, reforestation and the elderly – in fact, that’s what C.A.R.E. stands for! We want to stand in the gap where ever there is an unmet need in caring. Our CARE team meets with community non-profits to learn what unmet needs we can assist with. By building caring connections with non-profits who are serving their communities, we learn how we can help them to help more!
As a UCA member, you become a part of a larger caring community that not only promotes self care, but also takes meaningful action to create a more caring world. The collective caring of our over 150,000 members make the UCA CARE program a truly caring movement!