fingers counting 1,2,3,4,5
Caring Action, Self-Care

Holidays in Full Measure

Kids are so great at counting.  They still tell you their age in fractions.  “I’ll be 5-and-a-half tomorrow,” you’ll hear them say.  They are masters of anticipation.  “Christmas will be here in only six more sleeps.” Some even “track” Santa on the Radar.  Somewhere along the line, we lose this notion as we get older (and stop counting birthdays all together).  But taking the full measure of things is essential this holiday.

Have you ever seen someone at a fitness center jump from one piece of equipment to the next? A little elliptical.  A bit of treadmill. A row or two.  Some weightlifting.  Good for them, they’re working out. It might have even been a great workout.  But they aren’t measuring anything.  Nothing is tracked. Reps weren’t counted.  Time elapsed was ignored.  The metrics were missing.  So, there’s no real basis for knowing if progress is happening or not.  This can happen during the holiday season, too.

holidays in full measure; counting fingers

Making It Count

Taking stock during the holidays before the start of a New Year is a wonderful idea.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.  The simple notion is that when we’re measuring, we can show improvement.  Just count something.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s something you find interesting. 

Our lives are shaped by how we choose to spend our time and energy each day. Measuring can help us spend that time in better ways, more consistently.  But like most things, there’s a secret to doing it best.

Measure Backward Not Forward

With all of this counting, measuring, and tracking, there’s a trap to avoid.  Don’t make it about the results.  Instead, measure to discover something about yourself and you’ll get to know (and understand) yourself better.

It’s been said that 90% of life is showing up.  That’s a measure we should all be curious about.  Are you showing up? And if you are, is it to expend energy on the things that actually matter to you?  We’re all anxious for 2020 to be over and 2021 to begin.  But take a quick break from looking forward.  Be in the moment.  And try looking back as the year winds down. Now is the perfect time to take the full measure of 2020.  The good, the bad, and yes . . . even the “fugly.”

Face Unafraid The Plans That We Made

You can’t measure the spirit of the season, or goodwill.  But you can track different ways that you are showing up with grateful appreciation in your life.  Make a conscious effort to smile at someone every day.  Send a “thank you” text or email to someone every day of the month.  Make it part of the “to-do list” on your calendar, so you can keep track.

Measuring your personal value system may seem impossible, but it’s invaluable.  And it can be easy if you simply make a mental check list.  In fact, if you are thinking about something, then you can be tracking it, too.  If your mind is crowded with distraction, ditch the mental checklist and write things down instead. 

journaling

And To All A Good Write

The holiday season tends to be filled with lists.  Lists of gifts.  Lists of ingredients.  Lists of groceries. Even seating charts.  But those are for other people.  Consider a list that just for you.  An act of care for self.  Write down three principles, or morals, or ideals that are dear to you each morning before the hustle-bustle begins.  Make it a Decision Journal to track which choices you make and whether or not they align with your ethics.  A perfect gift of self… to self.  In this way we can ultimately do a better job of helping others. 

Believing Is Receiving

Remember, the things we measure in life are the things we can improve. As we inch our way toward 2021, what are you measuring in your life?  If there is something that you believe you would love to have — such as a more fulfilling relationship, a dream job, or a better local community — receiving it may very well come down to valuing it enough.

As for holiday wishes, here’s the best part: The moment you realize you already have everything you’re looking for, the universe gives it to you. In other words, it’s actually better to give and receive… if you’re open enough to accept it. 

You made it through the year.  And what a year it was, by any measure.  But soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

Thanksgiving Table
Self-Care, Sharing Caring

Thanks for… NOTHING?!

Every year around Thanksgiving time, most folks stay busy preparing their home to celebrate. Whether the gathering is large, or a low-key event, the day is set aside to call to mind the good fortune and blessings we enjoy in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving Every Day

It’s easy to think of a long list. A roof over our head. Food in the fridge. Nature. A gentle breeze. A baby’s laugh. A good book, and so many other small things that are a part of everyday life.

But are we thankful for all that has been given to us… not just the joys, but also the hardships?

Finding The Hidden Joys

The wisdom of the ancients tells us in song:  “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

But what if a particular day is difficult and filled with trials? Are we still called to “rejoice” in a spirit of gratitude?  A question worth considering in the arms of caring.

It can be very hard to see the blessings all around us when we feel like we are surrounded by pain and suffering. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the hidden blessing of a problem or challenge we face.  But they are there.

When our hearts are broken, and our spirit is weak, how can we be thankful? Where can we find joy?

In Everything Give Thanks

One of the easiest ways to live a thankful life is to consider that this day is what the universe wants for you. It’s not that the world wants you to hurt or wants you to suffer. Instead, it’s placing before you the opportunity to overcome, to grow stronger, to improve, and to learn.

In spite of the difficulties before us, to live a life of gratitude we must know that even within our hardships there are opportunities to be thankful. Yet, how do we do this on a daily basis, especially when there seems to be so little for which to be thankful?

A Dickens Of A Tough Time

The story goes that no sooner had 47-year old Charles Dickens put his ink and quill down after finishing “A Tale Of Two Cities” in 1859, that it was consumed in a house fire.  Over 135,000 words lost.  No computers or back-up hard drives.  It was gone.  He would certainly have permission to be devastated. Incredibly, he was thankful… at least in the long run.  He set about re-writing it and began: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Now considered one of the best openings to a novel ever created. He would write in the book’s dedication: “I have so far verified what is done and suffered in these pages, as that I have certainly done and suffered it all myself.”

Smile, Though Your Heart Is Breaking

Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Often it only takes smiling to change our attitude and to change our outlook on life. Smiling can bring us joy and joy can help us remember that we have so much to be thankful for.  Back to the ancients for this wonderful Proverb: “A joyful heart is a good medicine.”

Positive People Are More Thankful People

Those who constantly speak or think negatively are shown to have negative personalities.  They often struggle to find the good in life. But here’s the good news.  Science shows us that when we habitually think and speak positively, we have the ability to change our brains (rewire them in fact!).  That’s a great incentive to stimulate the areas of our brain that produces positive feelings. When faced with a challenge, find at least one or two positive things that are hiding within the negatives. By focusing on the positive instead of the negative you will find more reasons to be thankful.  Hopeful people can find reasons to be thankful much easier than those who feel desperate, alone, and out of control.

Giving and Receiving

If we’ve been consistent with our self-care, an amazing opportunity arises.  The ability to better put others before ourselves.  And when we perform acts of kindness for others it becomes easy to see the good in our own lives. When we help the less fortunate, we suddenly see how abundantly blessed we are. When we do something nice just to make someone smile, we realize how much we have to smile about ourselves. When we give of ourselves just to show how much we care for those around us, we begin to see just how much the universe cares for us as well. Doing for others encourages us to be thankful for what we have, and for those who have played a part in helping us get to where we are today.

Open Your Heart to Gratitude

When we say thank you, we make a conscious effort to acknowledge those who have done something for us. That small thank you not only changes our attitude, but can change theirs as well. The more often we say thank you, the more opportunities we have to make a positive difference in our lives.  So starting today, make a habit of saying thank you to those who hold the elevator, who stock the shelves, who deliver your order, who ask how you’re doing, and to those who do countless other little things each day that make your life a little better.

Make Every Day Thanksgiving

We don’t have to wait until November to celebrate “Thanksgiving.”  There’s no need to set aside just one day on the calendar to do so. Living a life of gratitude can be easy – simply practice being grateful and choose to be happy. It’s the key to being able to give thanks “in everything,” just as our caring spirit calls each of us to do.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caringresilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Caring Connections, Sharing Caring, 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 Action, Feel Good News, Unified Caring Association

Cloaked in Caring

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!