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Self-Care

Are You Living A Busy Life or a Productive One?

bust or productive life?

There has always been a great emphasis on staying “busy” (or at least looking busy). It was once seen as a surefire way to stay employed or to gain admiration from others. But a closer examination reveals that “busy work” has little value in itself.

And value is important.  Just as “quality time” is more important than the quantity of time, busy is falling out of favor while measuring productivity is becoming more vital.

This is certainly true in most professions, but what about in your own personal life?  What do you really care about?

With only a few precious hours in each day, are we using them to catch a glimpse of what we are capable of – who we are destined to be – or are we spending them shuffling papers and alphabetizing the soup cans in the pantry?

Important questions, because important desires are calling us all the time.  The inspiration to write a book or a poem. The yearning to lose the extra weight. The urge to build something of our own versus sticking with a dissatisfying job.

Is the urgency of a busy life getting in the way of a productive one? 

A text comes in. Your tires need air. A client demands an impossible deadline. Real life. But also an excuse to delay dreams one more day for the sake of another fire drill.

How do you make the leap from busy to productive? How do we start living the life that’s important to us instead of just responding to the everyday emergencies?

Think of it this way: you’re going to spend the next decade doing something.

Will you respond to what is urgent, or will you choose to pursue what is important, instead?

Is your craving to be noticed or appreciated (busy) winning out over the ability to be present and satisfied (productive)?

Become Purposeful

Of course handling responsibilities is part of life. But how long will you delay what’s important to you just so that you can handle the Next Urgent Thing in front of you? How long will you put off what productive thing you’re capable of doing, just to maintain what you’re currently doing (staying busy)?

Will you wait 12 months? Ten years? Your entire life?

If you want to start living a productive life, then choose a clear direction for yourself right now.  It takes courage to say, “This is what is important to me and I’m going after it,” but you can do it. 

Otherwise, you’ll only be living the life that other people expect you to live.

You’ll soon find that having a clear purpose and a specific goal prevents you from being sucked into the multiple vortexes of time–consuming, unimportant busy work.

A Specific Goal

A crucial point to understand is that a specific goal is different than a desire.  Wanting to get in shape is a desire, running a marathon is a specific goal. Wanting to start your own daycare center is a desire, securing the first three paying families is a specific goal.

The secret to living an important, productive life is recognizing that it will never demand your attention right now, on its own. You have to cultivate that sense of purpose and prioritize it over the long haul.

There is a lot of talk these days about getting back to normal. Abandon that notion and think more about going forward to new. Start the slow march from busy to productive by picking one thing that you care deeply about, and get started today. 

Trade frantic for focused, and you’ll be surprised how soon perfectionism gives way to purpose. 

Become a purposeful soul, instead of a busy body, and you can celebrate success for a lifetime.

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 caring, resilience 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!

Children, Resources, Sharing Caring

HeartMath Keen on Teens

Keen on Teens

There are so many challenges in the world, especially for children and teenagers facing new challenges today. Unified Caring Association (UCA) has many caring tools and resources to help parents and teens during these tough times. We recently got a note from our friends at HeartMath that there is an upcoming online event to help teenagers. We are brimming with excitement to share an awesome free telesummit gear towards helping teenagers. 

The best opportunities and guidance for teens to succeed.

One core question that this summit is trying to answer is, “Why do some parents feel challenged in guiding their teens to success?” Today many teens face challenges such as pressures from school, bullying, body image, and social media. Unfortunately, these challenges can lead to issues such as anxiety or depression. Teenagers need caring tools to help build resiliency. With a good foundation in caring tools and techniques, teens can reach their highest potential, and have an easier time bouncing back from adversity. The goal for the Keen for Teens telesummit is to learn how to best guide your teen to lead happy and healthy lives. A key speaker is HeartMaths’s Director of Education, Jeff Goelitz. He will be speaking on March 18, 2020. His goal is to share strategies to help teens deal with self‑management, stress, and how to prepare and cope with challenging events successfully. 

Join in the caring!

Keen on Teens Telesummit

March 14‑27, 2020.

Free 

Keen on Teens Topics
Keen on Teens Video

Click Here to visit the site and watch the introductory video!

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, YouTube, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

Animals, Caring Action, Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Cute, fierce, and awe inspiring are some of the feelings that many of us feel when we see animals. Sometimes our furry and crawling friends need a little help. An example that Unified Caring Association (UCA) loves to do is have UCA member benefits that help pets. Other organizations that help animals hold a favorite place in our hearts. One such organization is Conservation Ambassadors and their Zoo to You program.

Who are Conservation Ambassadors and what is the Zoo to You?

Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo are a rescue zoo. This is a place where un-releasable and unwanted wild animals could have a permanent loving home. These animals have a second chance at life by becoming animal “ambassadors” through an outreach education program. At the sanctuary there are about 230 animals, and about 8 employees. Largest of the animals are the camels, black bears and tigers. What the team loves is that all the animals are well cared for and accustomed to people. This helps them become ambassadors for education.

Conservation Ambassadors have rescued hundreds of animals and educated many children for years. Over the years, the sanctuary has been growing and is currently planning further developments to house the growing animal population. Conservation Ambassadors are giving a caring voice to wildlife by providing a stable and loving home. Many of these animals are displaced, exotic, abused, abandoned or permanently injured. Their second life is full of fun and TLC as they are able to participate in outreach programs with school children. These learners, young to old, are educated about conservation, can become connected to the wild world, and inspire them to protect and conserve animals and their habitat.

Zoo to You is a specific program that helps inspire many people all over California. This unique style of education is a blend of relevant storytelling and fun, enlightening messages through meeting live animals. With the efforts of Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo to You, these children grow into informed, caring adults. Often these children call and write to the sanctuary about how much they have learned and enjoyed the programs, and want to bring their kids to learn as well. This is such an inspiring organization brimming with caring, inspiring others to see the natural world as an important and necessary part of life. 

Video Conservation Ambassadors

Learn more about Conservation Ambassadors by CLICKING HERE to watch a short video!

Meet some of the Animals

Recently, we had a chance to meet some of the caring team members and their animal ambassadors. We are happy to see them all, and want to celebrate them!

Izzabu

Izzabu is a 5 year old camel who used to work in the movies. She is gorgeous with her long eyelashes!

Rhetta

Rhetta is an Augur Buzzard from Central Africa. She enjoys eating small prey like lizards and snakes or small birds. She loves to chill all day when she is not hunting.

Emeril
Spike

We met Emeril, who is 5 years old, and Spike, who is much larger. Both of these alligators are happily hanging out with full bellies. 

Nick

Next we have Nick the reindeer. He is 7 yrs old, and lives in the Midwest most of the year. He loves his grain snacks, and gobbles them down at every chance! November through December his antlers fall off. But before that, during the middle of the year, he will often rub the fur off his antlers.

Marcel

At one point we were quickly introduced to Marcel the monkey. He gave a quick squeak before being whisked away for a snack.

Pockets

Pockets is an opossum who is 3 years old, which is old for her species. Interestingly, we learned that opossums are more closely related to monkeys, and their bodies are too cold for carrying diseases. We were having fun watching Pockets wrap her tail as she descends from shoulders and branches.

Bluebell

A chinchilla named Bluebell was snoozing in her ash bath as she was waiting for night to fall. We learned from her that chinchillas see best in the dark, and if their fur gets wet it will begin tol mold. We were enjoying petting Bluebell because she is SO soft. This soft silky fur is because of how dense and fine their fur is; we can only describe this as petting a cloud.

Disco

Lastly, we met Disco the Fox. Disco is a rescue from a lady who was illegally raising him. He is 12 years old, and is looking forward to many more years as an ambassador because foxes can live to be 20 years old in captivity.

We had a blast meeting the animal ambassadors and the caring individuals who help care for them. Nothing makes our hearts sing than seeing others sharing the caring and helping educate others on how the world can become a better place for all to live.

Zoo Animals

Want to check out more about Unified Caring Association? CLICK HERE to visit our website! If you would like to read more about caring the UCA way, sharing caring, and/or topics on caring action check out all of our blogs. Not able to check in on the blogs each day? Follow us on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to get notifications from us. We look forward to connecting and sharing with you!

Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates caring and acts of kindness. One way is by celebrating the UCA Scholarship winners! Throughout the years we have held many scholarship contests, and are constantly in awe about how caring students are, and what new and innovative ways they bring caring into our communities. We have been blogging about various themes that have arisen in the recent submissions for the Fall 2019 scholarship contest. Many of the submissions had awareness and empathy in common. Below are some caring quotes from the essays and a scholarship essay that displays the unique skills that these caring ambassadors have!

Grace E Shay

Grace Shay

Ritika Managuli

Ritika Managuli

Jenna Dubbelde 

Jenna Dubbelde

Bella Brannon

Bella Brannon

“Since I can remember, my mom would recite this mantra to me. She would reference these “secret battles,” when young me was quick to judge another. No matter how many times she recited these words, I didn’t fully understand.

How could someone endure hardship and not wear it on their sleeve? Surely, not everyone can be fighting a battle. I knew a girl at school who was so stereotypically perfect. I had never seen her work for anything. I was sure that she was not fighting any battles. And if this example existed within my range, surely there were more.

So my mind continued on with this thought.  I lived in a picture perfect world, I was naive and free of hardship. I selfishly assumed that everyone was the same. I never stopped to consider that there may be more than meets the eye.

One day, the meaning of my mother’s words set in. They didn’t seep in like water. It wasn’t slow and gradual. It was a flood. One day, my mom’s words were engraved into my skin, like a burn left from an open flame. To this day, I have the scar from that burn.

The day it all clicked for me was the day I began fighting a secret battle of my own: one no one knew about.

I was diagnosed with an invisible illness, Type One Diabetes. The disease is relentless. From multiple injections a day, to waking up nightly for low blood sugars, to cutting my favorite foods out of my diet, to seizures and the stigma that surrounds the illness. It was hell and the hell was invisible.

As much as I hate my diagnosis, I know I’m not alone. Sure, I am the only diabetic on my team or at school, but I am not alone. Because everyone is fighting a secret battle.  No one is truly alone, our battles may be vastly different. The girl I thought was perfect may not have the most stable home life. Another student may have parents that only see them as a GPA.  Another student may not have parents at all.

However vastly different they are, our battles unite us. They create our collective humanity. If we take this “perceived empathy” and apply it to every situation, the world will become a much more caring place.

What if instead of getting annoyed at the lady taking forever in the grocery store checkout line, we considered her perspective? Maybe she has severe social anxiety, and this is a stretch for her? What if she just got a phone call about her dad and is struggling to not break down? You don’t know. Don’t judge. Instead, understand that she may be fighting a secret battle you know nothing about.

I know that when you first read the phrase, “secret battle,” the first that came to your mind was your own. Everyone has had that unique experience. Empathy is learned like wisdom. It can be obtained through conscious effort. That effort, that will leave the world caring and united.”

 Annie Suenram   

 Annie Suenram

“In a world of instant gratification and social media it is easy to find yourself isolated from others. Many people believe that young people in this world are not going to be successful because we have so much at our fingertips, yet we do not know how to carry on a face to face conversation. Today’s society is full of people who genuinely care for others, however they go unseen because of all the violence in today’s world. To make the world a more caring place people must start small and then branch out. If I were to change one thing in the world I would be more open to people and to be more caring myself. 

Lets face it. However nice it may seem to say, “Oh we can fix the world and make it more caring by [insert colossal change of the world here]”, it is naive and almost impossible. To really change our society to become a more inviting, caring place we need to start small. Even just going through your day and smiling at someone makes a difference because even such a small gesture is sometimes rare in society today. It’s not to say that trying to make the world a more caring place by making a big splash is necessarily a bad thing, but it is more feasible to do small things every day. When people open up even a little, it means they feel safe around that person they shared with. If said person is unresponsive or rude to them, that person will probably never open up to another person. When this happens, the world becomes a more boxed in and closed off than ever. As humans, we are social creatures, but if there is no trust between people, the society will not care about others. A way to remedy this problem is to be someone that people trust and to be attentive to their needs whether it be just listening or giving advice. 

Although being a more caring person can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in peruste of a more caring world. Often people think “It is so hard to be caring to this person because they have done x, y, or z.” This is exactly the reason to be nice to them because maybe they had a rough day or they just got the bad news that someone close to them died, in essence you have no idea what they are going through and if you are rude just because they were mean to you just perpetuates the cycle of anger and pain. If just one person were to be nice to the person who is mean it may make the difference between life and death. Being the bigger person is always hard because it is human nature to get mad when someone messes with you but it is a necessary step in making the world a better place. 

In order to make the world a more caring place, I want to be a light in darkness, to be a smiling face in the crowd and be someone that people feel comfortable to talk with. By striving every day to do a little better than the day before, people can easily make a difference in society and the world.”

Kei Magloughlin

Kei Magloughlin

“In today’s world, it’s easy to become cynical. Every day on the news and online, we learn about the horrible things people are doing. As we see this more and more, it becomes ingrained, even subconsciously. Many of us start to distrust people as a whole. The very concept of “stranger danger” reflects this. Children are taught from a very young age that strangers aren’t to be trusted. 

Public transportation is an excellent example of how deeply ingrained the wariness of strangers is. On subways and buses, striking up a conversation with a stranger is something that rarely happens. People sit as far away as they can from everyone else. In crowds, whether on a subway or at a concert, people are taught to keep an eye on their pockets and valuables. 

But the reality is that the chance of being robbed in that way is extremely low. That chance is what scares people though, and it’s what leads us to distrust strangers. But the vast majority of people are perfectly kind. If they’re not willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, most of them will politely decline. It’s commonplace to hold the door open for strangers, so why aren’t greater things accepted? Something as simple as offering to buy a stranger their morning coffee is looked at askance. People start to expect you want something in return. If someone’s card gets declined at a grocery store and you offer to pay for their $15 of groceries, other people think it’s some sort of scam. Can we not trust other people to be kind because they want to brighten someone’s day? 

These sorts of issues are just the expression of the much deeper problem in society: the problem of distrust. There are many factors, everything from the modern connected world to the way children are raised. News sources gain money through watch time and clicks. The best way to get those things? Headlines that scare you into paying attention. Headlines about good or ordinary things don’t captivate our attention the same way. 

We can’t change it overnight, but we can do small things now. Pay-it-forward lines in drive-throughs can last for hundreds of cars. Although each person is going to be paying a similar amount, just the thought that a stranger was willing to make their day better is huge. One small act of kindness can, at the very least, make someone’s day less bad, and can even go as far as saving a life. 

Every action we take to support one another, however small, reminds us that individuals aren’t the same as the society they seem to make up. They’re better than what we’re led to believe. If we trust in other people, and believe that the vast majority of people will act kindly, we can help each other realize that people are worth believing in. By believing in and supporting one another, we can spread kindness and compassion, and small actions can spread further than we know.”

These amazing students help bring more empathy and awareness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education by awarding them with a scholarship. We have more themes to celebrate in upcoming blogs, such as self-love, that we are looking forward to sharing. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!

Want to read more about UCA 2019 scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on your news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude. Or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Caring Action, Children, Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Social Media and Bullying

Scholarship Themes: Social Media Anti Bullying

Unified Caring Association (UCA) has scholarship opportunities for U.S. students each year. Each submission that arrives brings excitement and smiles. We are so happy to read about these caring students who share their ideas for a better world. Some of these essays share life stories that reflect how these caring ambassadors help bring more caring into the world. Recently, we began celebrating the various themes that surfaced in essays submitted by students across the U.S. Our first theme was equality. Next we want to thank and cheer those who wrote about social media and anti bullying. We are happy to share some of the essays. These essays have caring quotes that reflect the theme of social media and preventing bullying.

Madeline Chalecki 

Madeline Chalecki

“My grandfather is an 80-year-old, Jewish, politically conservative man living in rural Maine who spends his time watching and reading the news. And because he is constantly consuming alarming news about murder and crime, he has become scared and closed-minded. It has made him into a person that makes judgments about people of color, is fearful of immigrants, and comments on the “inner cities crumbling into poverty and crime.”

I live over 2,000 miles away in an urban neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. In my daily life, I am surrounded by people of different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, immigration status and perspectives—but with the same frightening news. The contrast between my grandfather’s views and mine has made me recognize the impact that sensationalized media has on its viewers. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would change the way the media represents people and current events.

Sensationalized media makes the world seem dangerous by disproportionately portraying negative and violent events more often than positive news. When we are bombarded with that kind of information, it closes our minds and makes us fearful of each other. It is easy to get wrapped up in sensationalized information from the news. When we see more violence than kind acts, we begin to think the world is more aggressive than caring. We become isolated and fearful of people different than us, causing us to become less empathetic, less compassionate, and less caring.

I believe that if the news, as well as other media like Facebook and Twitter, showed a less sensationalized, more accurate view of people and world events, we would become more caring and compassionate towards one another. External forces pull us apart, but they can also bring us together. I would change media reporting to report crime with simple facts, not opinion or hyped up information. I would make it so media talked about crime in a proportional rate to the actual rate of crime. We see more bad than good on the media, but there is more good than bad in real life. I would also want to add a segment to all news channels of positive news about people each day. I know that many news channels have something like this, but it is often irrelevant or uninteresting. Finally, I would want to make social media a less divisive platform by creating pages for open conversation and positive news.              

People work tirelessly all over the world to make powerful, progressive, and positive change. I want to create media that includes information about people from Korea to Sudan to Mexico working hard to positively impact communities. I believe that if the news had these new elements, people would be more curious about each other, open towards one another and more hopeful about humanity in general. People could connect over similarities, not just differences. Sensationalized news creates division and fear, but approaching media differently could have the opposite effect. To make the world a more caring place, I would create media that brings us together, portrays the good side of humanity as well as the areas that need improvement. News can become a powerful tool to make the world a more caring place.”

Emily Lindberg

Emily Lindberg

“To make the world a more caring place, the first thing that I would change is disabling the “anonymous” feature on news sites, web forums, and social media. Anonymity is a dangerous game to play because it makes people immediately more ruthless, which then leads to a toxic online environment. Forcing people to put their names on their posts would immediately change the quality of material that was getting posted.

With the continuation of advancements in technology, paper news sources are almost totally obsolete. As a result of this advancement, websites are getting saturated with comments, many of which are tactless and inconsiderate. This effect is amplified by the rise of “anonymous” commenters – it’s as if by taking someone’s identity out of the public eye, they are given permission to tear down others since nobody can tear them down in return. Reading the comments on a news site is like watching vultures circle and subsequently attack an innocent animal. As soon as somebody sees a comment they disagree with, their claws are out and they have no shame in tearing somebody else down.

Social media does nothing but exacerbate this effect. In allowing the public to share their opinions without having to put a name to what they say, platforms are allowing some true colors to shine, which, in a lot of cases, is not a good thing. Racist, homophobic, and bigoted opinions are running rampant over the media. Cyberbullying is on the rise and, as a result of that, suicide. When people are given the opportunity to be anonymous, sometimes good things can happen. But when so many opinions are swirling around, it’s hard to not get sucked in or take things personally.

By removing the publics’ ability to be anonymous, we would force everybody to own up to their opinions and have them face consequences for the things they say that impact other peoples’ lives. Free speech is important, but not so much that it can destroy somebody to the point that they take their own life. Anonymity is toxic. The public can have opinions, but if they choose to share it, their name should forever be stamped on it. The world needs to see people for who they are, not what they post. In-person interactions are never going to be the same as an interaction in the comments section of a YouTube video, so why wouldn’t we change the parameters of the comments section to reflect how people would interact in real life? Human contact is fundamental to our health, but if we are constantly ripped apart on social media because somebody decided to go anonymous, where is that contact that we needed?

Making the world a more caring place requires a lot more changes than this one. But I think that disabling online anonymity would be a start, because it would change the interactions that happen on the Internet, which is where a lot of us spend a good chunk of our time. Society can be good, but we have to make the change that allows them to do good and be seen.”

Kaitlyn Wong

Kaitlyn Wong

“My legs took small strides as I walked towards the lunch table. As I scanned the large cafeteria, I couldn’t help but notice the people already sitting down. Every one of them were on their phones. It wasn’t like there was no one for them to talk to. Their friends were sitting right in front of them, but there was no communication. What has the world come to? There are people that could provide the same entertainment, company, and joy, as their phone but instead, everyone chooses to divert all of their attention to a small rectangular device. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would have people put their phones down and experience the world by interacting with others.

The average teenager spends about 9 hours a day online. Phones and social media have taken over societal bodies as if everyone is now under its trance. The first thing some do is wake up and check their phones. Everyone is guilty of this, even myself. Instead of going straight to our phones, we should make an effort to go straight to our parents and say the simple phrase “good morning.” Talking and spending time with family and friends would ensure family connections to become greater and friendships to become stronger. In one of my personal experiences, dedicating time to see my grandpa has been more important than ever. He has been restricted to his bed for about 10 months now, and with school, there is little time during the weekdays and sometimes weekends for me to see him. My mom has resorted to FaceTime, but the physical connection becomes absent. When I do get to see him, I try remaining off of my cell phone to treasure the time around him. Spending time with him made me realize that family bonding is important, and with the use of cell phones, this restricts the development of a strong bond. Talking to them, or just the holding of hands, is a symbol of care that we just can’t achieve over technology.

Looking at the world through phones is extremely different from a set of eyes. Instead of being fixated on a screen for hours on end, we can make meaningful impacts on others’ lives. Take for example, volunteering at a food bank. We can meet new people and experience the feeling of giving and making a difference in someone’s life. Personally, when I first entered the food bank, I didn’t expect to be impacted or make much of a difference. I was only there to complete the volunteer hours needed, but after going through the motions of what the workers do for a living, I loved the feeling of being able to help distribute essential needs to families in need. Seeing the dozens of families outside waiting for their weekly grocery earnings, I realized how blind I’ve been to the situations in our world that I didn’t experience or see personally. With the constant use of technology, people no longer see what surrounds them.

Putting our phones down allows us to experience the world. Our phones are like our barriers to interacting with others in a meaningful way. Breaking down this barrier is tough but essential for a more caring world.”

These amazing students bring joy and kindness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education. We have more themes than social media and anti bullying. Other themes that we will be blogging about are awareness and empathy. We look forward to sharing more themes and essays with our caring community. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!

Want to read more about UCA 2019 scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on your news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude. Or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Health, Self-Care

Heart Smart

Heart Smart

With the beginning of the 2020 new year, we often have resolutions for more self-care to help improve our health. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) love sharing tools and caring resources to help members build healthy lifestyles for their bodies and minds. One of our favorite organizations that can help with this is HeartMath^™. HearthMath^™ has a new tool that is both online and can be found in a classroom to help grow caring children.

Smart Brain Wise Heart™

Smart Brain Wise Heart™ (SBWH) is a program that helps facilitate social and emotional learning. In the classroom, students learn are able to learn at their own pace. During this time, instructors are able to reinforce key skills that can help them regulate their emotional wellbeing. SBWH is a program that draws on the best of young peoples’ brains and hearts to help empower them to make smarter decisions. The results can range from gaining greater self-control and thus successfully navigate academic and social situations that life can bring.

How the Program Structure Works

The core of SBWH are eight short and engaging animation videos. These videos present key practices and ideas that are related to important social and emotional learning competencies. Instructors have ample support from a variety of activities. This allows the instructors freedom and flexibility to choose the type of course lessons that best address the diverse needs of the students. When each unit begins, there is a short video overview that is often followed by short vocabulary definitions, and then a video presentation. Below is a layout of the SBWH learn process.

The Smart Brain Wise Heart Learning Process

Want to learn more? Watch the video about the Smart Brain Wise Heart Social & Emotional eLearning Program on YouTube.

Smart Brain Video

Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on Shaping Your Heart, Appreciation Techniques: Heart-Focused Breathing & Heart-Lock In, and The Science of Kindness! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

Feel Good News

The Science of Kindness

The Science of Kindness

Wednesday was a day filled with kindness as people shared caring acts and messages around the world in honor of World Kindness Day. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are drawing inspiration from all of these kind acts and keeping the momentum up. We recently read an article on the Good News Network that informs us about a new institute whose primary directive is to research kindness.

A New “Kind” of School

Kindness has been shown to be beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as promote a fulfilling and long life. Since kindness is such a large and important topic, the University of California Los Angeles decided to open a school just for researching kindness. “There are countless other ways that different compassionate acts and lifestyle changes can affect one person, let alone society…[UCLA] has just announced that they will be launching the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness.” This is all made possible by The Bedari Foundation. This private family foundation aims “…to enable significant cultural shifts in the fields of health and wellness, community displacement and environmental conservation.” They offered the gift of $20 million to help establish this school at UCLA.

Kindness Studies

This institute will begin operating immediately. It will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding kindness. These researchers will do this by using biological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural and sociological, as well as economic perspectives. Some of the focuses for researchers from many disciplines and external organizations who are gathering at the institute will be researching “…the actions, thoughts, feelings and social institutions associated with kindness.”

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will support world-class research on kindness. Some of the focus will be on creating opportunities to apply the kindness research to the real-world. Also, the institute will serve as a global platform for communicating findings, helping educate the world on the science of kindness. The institute hopes to use its research to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies. This caring research is a wonderful way to promote caring around the world. Additionally, the research is helping set in motion acts of kindness that can help make the world a better place. UCLA chancellor Gene Block comments that “universities should always be places where we teach students to reach across lines of difference and treat one another with empathy and respect — even when we deeply disagree.” It is Chancellor Block’s hopes that the new institute will gather some of the best minds and hearts to bring forth top ideas on the vital issue of kindness. The sciences of kindness and how we apply that knowledge to government, economics, and general welfare of our communities gives us real hope for a solid social impact, now and for future generations. 

What Have Researchers Already Begun Studying?

In previous blogs we have mentioned how kindness and caring acts are contagious, in a good way. UCLA anthropologists are examining this phenomena of kindness that spreads from person to person and group to group. One study underway is the study of “…how people who regularly act unkind might be encouraged to engage in kind acts instead.” Also, UCLA psychologists are conducting studies on how kindness can improve our moods and reduce symptoms of depression. “Others are pursuing research on changes in neurobiology and behavior resulting from mindfulness, and how those changes can influence kindness and people’s mental, physical and social well-being.” 

But Wait, There’s MORE!

There is more for those of us who are looking for more excitement. The Kindness Institute will provide seed funding for projects that research and examine the mechanics of kindness, both social and physical. This could give us insight on how people and their communities can harness kindness to create more humane, caring societies. The Good News Network also reports that “It also will provide mindfulness awareness training to students, faculty and staff and in underserved Los Angeles communities, and host an annual conference at which presenters will examine new discoveries in kindness research, among other activities.” Matthew Harris, one of the The Bedari Foundation’s co-founders and UCLA alumni,  states, “Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us … Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world. As we seek at Bedari to bridge the divide between science and spirituality, through the establishment of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute we hope to educate and empower more and more people in the practice of kindness.”

We are so excited to hear about all of the kindness being brought into our caring communities. We thank every person who participates in caring acts to help make our world a better place for us all!

Craving more kindness? Read more blogs about acts of kindness in our communities, teaching caring kids, and caring for others. If you would like some more caring in your week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Self-Care, Sharing Caring

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!

Caring Connections, Scholarships, Sharing Caring

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.

Self-Care, Sharing Caring, 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!