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.
In most communities there are times when we are faced with challenges, negativity or bullying. The internet has not been spared from this, especially on social media platforms. This newest form of internet harassment is often referred to as cyberbullying. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to help source tools and share resources to help others and our children learn the skills needed to stop current forms of bullying and prevent any future bullying from happening.
Bullying and forms of hate or discrimination have been around for most, if not all of human history. With the advent of the internet in the 1990’s there came a new form of bullying: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to harass, trash talk, or bully a person. Often times this is typically done by sending messages that can be intimidating or threatening in nature. One of the first pervasive examples of this is seen through Monica Lewinski’s experiences. At this time her private life became public, and people began to ridicule her as fast as a wildfire in dry grass. Since then she has become a prominent anti-bullying advocate, even giving a strong TedTalk on the subject.
Cyberbullying has become a more common issue in households and schools, especially for children and teens. Often we hear about messages that are hurtful or degrading left on one or more kid’s social media account from their peers. This begs the question: what tools and organizations can we turn to to help our children dispel cyberbullying?
Stomp Out Bullying
UCA has aligned itself with Stomp Out Bullying, a leading national nonprofit that dedicates itself to changing to a caring culture for all children. This organization works to prevent and reduce bullying/cyberbullying. Also Stomp Out Bullying educates people against LGBTQ discrimination and racism in an effort to deter violence in schools and in communities (online and offline) across the U.S. This organization teaches effective responses and solutions to bullying, cyberbullying, etc. They do this using in-school and online education programs for kids and teens. In addition to their education programs, Stomp Out Bullying provides help for people in need or at-risk of suicide. They raise awareness through public service announcements, peer mentoring programs in schools, and social media campaigns.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Every year the first Monday of October is World Day of Bullying Prevention™ where students, communities, and schools raise awareness by wearing the color blue. Stomp Out Bullying has unique blue shirts to commemorate this day and further bring this national challenge into the spotlight. But, we can all just unify under the color blue to show support as well. This strong unified voice will help the world hear and see that our culture needs to change to be more caring. This is the 12th year that Stomp Out Bullying has began this quest and they have a wonderful slogan for their shirts: ‘Make Bullying History.’ This event will help “…speak for all of our youth who are tormented by bullying, cyberbullying, cruelty, hatred, racism, homophobia and LGBTQ discrimination…[we] stand together to MAKE BULLYING HISTORY!” (Stomp Out Bullying)
Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information and resources 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.
If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? This is the question we asked our recent scholarship applicants to respond to. There are so many answers to this question, and all are wonderful. We read all of the essays and noticed common themes of empathy, gratitude, and a third common theme: “understanding others.” To understand others takes both empathy and gratitude to connect with others and see them for who they are: caring individuals with achievements of their own.
Grace Peyron – We are All Human
“…if I could change one thing, it would be to simply stop hurting one another and realize that we are all human.” This is part of Grace’s opening statement in her essay. She has a very good point. To help make the world a more caring place begin with stopping a negative action or thought. This takes vigilance. Grace comments, “Some may say that the world isn’t all that bad, that it is only the few bad people in the world creating this horrible corruption of hate against each other, but I think this ugly side is in all of us.” If we are able to let go of the negative when we recognise it, we are more able to promote the positive and caring aspects of ourselves. This example in turn helps others do so as well. Grace’s relatability to the human in all of us comes through when she continues “there are times where we can all admit that we haven’t reached out to help someone when we should have …sometimes get caught in the “id” mindset where we only focus on ourselves and our own desires instead of those of others.”
Why do we all struggle as humans to pull ourselves out of the funky ‘id’? There are many reasons for this but often it is because we are feeling insecure ourselves, and then mirror it onto others. This allows us to externalize the struggle, and often lash out as a result. This can be seen as acts of jealousy or lack of confidence in ourselves. Cue acts of self-care and growth mindset coupled with empathy and gratitude to see that we are all just human beings. This shift in mindset is one way that Grace would like to help promote to create a more caring world. “When we are understanding of one another we listen, we feel empathy; we feel pain when they feel pain and happiness when they feel happiness. When we have this empathy we are forgiving of others faults.”
Shreya Mapadath – See Through Other’s Eyes
Grace is not alone in wanting to help others see and be seen as human. Shreya Mapadath too wants to help make the world a more caring place by giving “…each individual the ability to fully understand one another.” Shreya writes about how power struggles have been recorded throughout history. These conflicts that arise are at their core due to a lack of mutual understanding of each other. Shreya talks about a first hand experience during a conversation with a host family while abroad in South Korea. They had a duscussion about there different views on same-sex marriage. Ultimately Shreya came to the conclusion that “…it doesn’t make sense to observe other people simply through my own perspective; I have to actively seek to understand what part of their lives has molded their beliefs today.” This is a great example of opening your mind to new experiences and learning how to see situations and beliefs through others eyes. Shreya echoes this in her essay. “When we make the effort to educate ourselves on the unique contexts other people live in and connect with them on a deeper level, caring is a natural outcome.” This small task of keeping an open mind to learn about others to see things their way is a key to helping create a more caring world. “By understanding not just the meaning of someone’s words, but also the context from which those words come, the reasons behind our clashing opinions become much more apparent. It is only after we can see past the superficial divides that exist between others and ourselves that we can realize every human is at their core just that: a human being.”
Sara A. McDufford – Being Known For Your Achievements
“There is a common saying, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’” Sara has a profound point. We have mentioned in other blogs about how actions often speak louder than words, and leading by example. In her essay, Sara talks about removing externalities from people’s perceptions of a person’s abilities and achievements. Sara focuses on race as her example in her essay. She defines race as “… the concern of physical appearance or the genealogical faction.” And she continues in her essay stating that this should stop ASAP. “But it can only stop if we focus on not who has power… but what that power has created in terms of gaps. A discussion about race and race equals power, dismisses communities of color by saying white is might and that’s how it will always be. When we speak of race as who has power and who does not, we invest in putting up additional borders that divides us from the honest conversation about realities that have been created and how to undo those realities.” This gap that Sara writes about does not allow for any healing. This gap doesn’t allow for promoting a more caring world. We are all human, right? There is empathy in the world and in those who strive to see the world through others’ eyes. So why is there a gap? “This [gap] is not exactly a lack of empathy, but it is a lack of exposure.” There are people who have a desire and passion… to learn about each other as a means of growth.” This echoes Shreya, seeing others through their own beliefs and values.
Sara offers a proposal that if these externalities are removed, the gap between people will most likely cease to exist. This will allow for individuals to be seen based on their achievements. This is what Sara believes is one of our biggest desires “…human beings want to be known for the good we do, for what we accomplished and how we existed. We do not want to be known or focused on as if we were just characteristics such as the color of our skin. When we bring our talents towards the public, we hope that our talent is judged alone.” Sara writes about creating a more caring world that allows for people to be known based on their “…work ethic, creativity, dedication… [and] the diversity of our talents should earn their own merits, always.”
With these talented and caring writers we are excited and hopeful for our developing world. Creating a caring atmosphere filled with empathy, gratitude and understanding of others. We are all human. We all can taking caring action. Thank you to all of our talented students who wrote in essays on how to create a more caring world. We are amped up for all of the actions and changes you continue to make!
Want to read more from Unified Caring Association? We have other blogs about UCA and member benefits, blogs for sharing caring the UCA way, and reviews and caring research. If you would like to get caring throughout your week, follow us on social media: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) strives to continue promoting caring around the world. But how can someone start performing caring acts? One of the best ways is to start close to home. Help out at a local food bank or shelter or donate clothing or personal care items to those in need. UCA did just this in our local community where our headquarters are located.
UCA jumped into action when we learned about an urgent need for supplies at Great Northern Services (GNS). GNS serves about 10,000 lunches over the summer months to school aged children up to the age of 18 years old. GNS sponsors the USDA Summer Food Service Program donates bag lunches during the work week (Monday-Friday) in the summer months of June, July and August with no cost to the children’s families that receive the lunches.
Supplies that were needed included kitchen utensils, pots, food containers and lunch bags for every child and every lunch all summer long. These supplies were needed by the teams to put the lunches together and deliver them to the kids. We are happy to report that smiles were on everyone’s faces as the lunches were served up. It was a huge pleasure to help support the caring efforts provided by GNS and the USDA Food Service Program to serve up nutritious meals in the community of Siskiyou county. We continue sending our best wishes to all of the teams and every child they serve!
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association and keep up to date on UCA’s caring acts? Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Other ways to keep up with UCA activities are on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!