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.
Release what no longer serves you to move forward in your life
To move forward in life, you must un-anchor from practices you have outgrown and let go of what no longer serves you. Staying stuck in old habits and patterns will keep you stuck with old results and disappointments. Moving forward depends on your ability to let go of and release what no longer serves you. Therefore, to create a new result you must define a new approach.
Do you ever feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or that you run from the moment you wake up until the day is done? These feelings are clues that it may be time to re-evaluate what occupies your time and see what you can let go of. As you re-evaluate what’s important, you may find that some things you previously felt were important to have in your life, are now only holding you back. Because we are creatures of habit, changing this can be difficult. However, it’s totally worth the effort! Taking time for personal reflection is a great investment in your happiness. So, reflect, rethink and reinvent often!
Move forward by looking inward
To move on to greater happiness you are called to release old habits and patterns and bravely travel a new path. When you’ve learned all you can learn from a situation, it is time to evolve! By letting go of what no longer serves us we make room for in our life for more that DOES! We cannot fill what is already full, so we must make room for the new!
You may be thinking, “This all makes sense on the surface, but how exactly do I do this?” Self assessment tools are a great place to start. Through a series of specially chosen questions a good self assessment test can identify opportunities for improvement in your life. Your review of the areas needing attention may even identify a core issue you can improve upon. For example, if time management is problem, the underlying issue may be that you have a hard time asking others for help. Similarly, if you are feeling dissatisfied at work, the underlying issue could be that you are in the wrong profession. Self assessment tools can help us to see our life in a different light and guide us toward the answers we are searching for.
Self-assessment tools are one of the many self-care benefits that Unified Caring Association members enjoy. UCA created their user friendly self-assessment test to help their members along their journey of self-improvement. They routinely encourage their members through social media posts to slow down and take a look inward to create a more caring lifestyle. The reviews are in, if you are looking for caring support, self assessments and caring resources, Unified Caring Association can help!
Living in full self-expression helps you to tune in to your inner guidance system and live an inspired life that only YOU can live.
Dare to be yourself, no matter how different it makes you feel from the rest of the crowd. Authenticity affords you the privilege of becoming who you were truly meant to be. The world is counting on you. We need you to be YOU and no one else. You just need to show up!
Being authentic simply means working to uncover your true self. However, sometimes what we discover is not what we were hoping for. When this happens, we must review, reflect and retry. In other words, we must align our actions with our values. No one is perfect! Living our lives from a place of awareness and consciousness helps us to become the best version of our true self. Authenticity helps us to process our feelings through accuracy and truth, rather than through an illusion.
At UCA, we care about your life. We want to help you have a better life, a more vibrant life and a healthier life. Our specially curated benefits and resources are designed to encourage self care, and promote greater happiness. Let us help you be healthier, inspire more caring acts for yourself, family and community, and save money through our many member discounts and savings benefits. Become a UCA member today!