Each day can bring about new challenges. The trick is to maintain a healthy and active mind to that you are able to be more resilient through stressful moments. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) strive to provide our members caring tools and resources for mental well-being. These resources can help us all be proactive with our mental health. To start, let’s look at why having a strong mind is important.
Strengthening the mind is connected with improving our emotional intelligence. According to an article in the “Journal of Abnormal Psychology,” the successful route to take is to incorporate a “positive activity.” A positive activity is often an activity that a person enjoys doing, such as meditation or writing letters of gratitude. In this research article the authors, K. Layous, J. Chancellor, and S. Lyubomirsky, study the effects of positive activities on mental well-being. They state that “…promoting Well-Being can reduce negative emotions, negative thoughts, and negative behaviors.” Overall, maintaining happiness and a positive mental outlook leads to better physical health.
Our memories help shape us, our identities and our relationships. It goes without saying that our memories are very important to us all. There are tools to help strengthen our memory, such as UCA’s caring apps for memory fitness. Some of these apps are games that help build and strengthen our ability to recall information. Other apps can be puzzles to help with exercising the brain’s ability to problem solve. Other ideas that work well for us include learning a new language or musical instrument, as well as volunteering and socializing through acts of kindness. In conjunction with healthy nutrition and lifestyle, the mind is just like a muscle, it needs exercise in order to grow stronger and stay in shape.
When to seek help for memory loss…
“If you’re worried about memory loss — especially if memory loss affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities or if you notice your memory getting worse — talk to your doctor. He or she will likely do a physical exam, as well as check your memory and problem-solving skills. Sometimes other tests are needed as well. Treatment will depend on what’s contributing to your memory loss.” (Mayo Clinic)
There are many ways we can be proactive with our mental health. Being active in your community, sharing caring with others and yourself are some examples of working on your mental well-being. And as mentioned above, learning a language like Spanish or Japanese will streacha nd build your brain to be more resilient. Below are nine that we have come up with that can help strengthen our minds in different ways. Check them out to see how we all can build our mental health to be the best it can be!
Love our blogs and want to read more? Unified Caring Association has other caring blogs such as Advanced Directives of Peace of Mind, and Caring Challenge x 365 Days that inspire us all! We also share caring and inspirational posts daily on social media (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter). Follow us to get a little extra caring in your day!
Want to have a lifestyle that is more relaxing? What if we could develop a habit that will keep us rejuvenating, support healing, healthier choices, and allow us to sleep better each night? We at Unified Caring Caring Association (UCA) want to help share caring and ways for everyone to live a happy and fulfilling life. One way to set ourselves up for success is to practice mindfulness activities (A.K.A. meditation). With a clear mind, we can set effective and attainable goals. Want to learn how to start a lifestyle habit? Read on for a “how to.”
For over a thousand years, meditation has been used for increasing relaxation and mental resilience. This resilience helps enhance overall well-being and health. Over the past five years the number of adults meditating in the U.S. has increased to 15.5%, and 5.5% of children are also meditating.
There are four main elements that most meditation formats have in common:
Meditation: In Depth – This is an article that gives a great summary of meditation and research on how meditation helps us free up space in our brain to be able to make better decisions. In this article is a three minute Q&A video with Dr. Amishi Jha about her definition of what mindfulness is.
Another way to learn more about meditation is to jump in and try it out. Here are two samples of videos that UCA members have access to:
Meditation helps us get set for our day and going through the week with clear heads. With an open and flexible mind we can tackle the mountain of dishes in the sink and the quarterly board meeting all in the same day. When children become more adept at meditation, it can help them focus in school and allow for a boost of energy to get them through the football game. We at UCA are happy to help people build happy and healthy lives filled with gratitude and success. Meditation and mindfulness are both positive influences toward that goal.
Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Mental Strength, How Can Mindfulness Help Us Solve Problems, and Letting Go of Being Good! If your would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) spreads caring in many ways, one of which is through sharing caring research. Often we see notes about how feeling happy more often helps us feel healthier. Recently we came across an article by HarvardHealth Publishing that suggests that there is scientific evidence that positive emotions can result in a longer healthier life. We are all for that! Want to know more? Here are the short notes on how happiness can equal health.
Start on Happy Things
Begin with what makes you happy. Playing with your pets, helping the elderly at a senior center, or painting are just some of the things that people like to do that brings them happiness. Doing things that make you happy also help lower stress levels. Continually and consistently doing things that make us happy lowers our stress levels and could reduce risks of health problems like a heart attack.
3 Pathways to Happiness
During their research on positive psychology, Research Psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson examined three pathways to happiness: feeling good, engaging fully and doing good. As seen through the testing of hundreds of volunteers and focus groups, it was found that these pathways contribute to happiness and life satisfaction.
Feeling good relates to our ability to seek pleasurable emotions. These emotions focus on reaching happiness in an effort to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain.
Engaging fully in the pursuit activities that “…engage us fully, from the influential research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For decades, Csikszentmihalyi explored people’s satisfaction in their everyday activities, finding that people report the greatest satisfaction when they are totally immersed in and concentrating on what they are doing.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection)
When we are doing good and doing caring acts that helps others we generate more happiness. More poetically put, doing is “searching for meaning outside yourself, tracing back to Aristotle’s notion of eudemonia, which emphasized knowing your true self and acting in accordance with your virtues.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection) This is a feeling that can happen when you are “getting in the flow.”
How can you know you are in the flow?
What does it mean to be in the flow of things? Is it a fast paced atmosphere where everything seems to be going your way? Or is it when we spend time laughing with those we love? Check out some suggestions below on ways to get in the flow.
-Time just flies by and you realize that you have been working long and hard without feeling tired. The “loss” of time is no big deal, and you would probably do the activity again.
-Your mind is not occupied with your activities of your internal thoughts. “You aren’t focused on your comfort, and you aren’t wondering how you look or how your actions will be perceived by others. Your awareness of yourself is only in relation to the activity itself, such as your fingers on a piano keyboard, or the way you position a knife to cut vegetables, or the balance of your body parts as you ski or surf.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection)
-You are present in the moment. This means not thinking about the daily “to-do” list that is sitting on your desk, refrigerator, etc. An example is that you aren’t thinking about such mundane matters as your shopping list or what to wear tomorrow.
-Keeping an active mind and an active body. This can be done through learning music, reading books, playing sports, or going for a hike.
-You work effortlessly. “Flow activities require effort (usually more effort than involved in typical daily experience). Although you may be working harder than usual, at flow moments everything is “clicking” and feels almost effortless.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-happiness-health-connection)
It is clear that whatever we choose to do, if it makes us happy, it is good for our health. When we do good we can get a bonus boost when we are helping others feel good too!
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.
Broken Heart Syndrome
“No other organ, perhaps no other object in human life, is as imbued with metaphor and meaning as the human heart. Over the course of history, the heart has been a symbol of our emotional lives… The very word “emotion” stems in part from the French verb ‘émouvoir’, meaning ‘to stir up.’ And perhaps it’s only logical that emotions would be linked to an organ characterized by its agitated movement.” (Jauhar) We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) continue to research and learn more about caring for others and for ourselves. In this journey we discovered a well spoken TedTalk by Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist and writer. In his presentation, we hear about how our emotions can in fact change the shape of our hearts.
The TedTalk from the Heart
Doctor Jauhar eloquently leads us on a journey during his speech. He recounts stories and examples of how the heart is affected by the mind and emotions felt by patients who are extremely happy or sad. “…we have come to understand that the connection between the heart and the emotions is a highly intimate one. The heart may not originate our feelings, but it is highly responsive to them.” (Jauhar) Doctor Jauhar continues on to explain how the nerves that control our unconscious processes like our heartbeat, can sense distress. This distress can trigger an abnormal fight-or-flight response that is often seen by signs similar to heart failure. Some examples are blood vessels constrict. The heart rate begins to gallop and there is an increase in blood pressure. All of these symptoms often result in damage.
In recent history we have been more prone to seeing doctors uphold a scientific biological approach to heart. However with newer research and imagery we can literally see the heart organ change shape in response to emotions. “[The heart is] more the domain of doctors like me, wielding technologies that even a century ago… were considered taboo. In the process, the heart has been transformed … into a machine that can be manipulated and controlled.” Doctor Jauhar states that there is a golden nugget resulting from this breakthrough. These techniques and solutions that doctors are currently prescribing to their patients need to be complemented by caring attention to the emotional well-being. This is reflecting upon the descriptions of the heart dating back to classical history. This is an era where it was believed that the heart was the seat of all thoughts and emotions; our lifeline.
To help explain this concept of how emotional health aids physical heart health, Doctor Jauhar cites a study published in the British journal “The Lancet” in 1990 called Lifestyle Heart Trial. This was a study based on a group of patients that had coronary (heart) disease. A portion of the group was given a ‘standard’ treatment plan (a.k.a. the control group). The other portion of the group was given an intense set of lifestyle changes. These changes included diet and exercise, stress management assistance, and support group activities. In the end, the group that was prescribed the intensive lifestyle changes by far was healthier than the control group. What is also interesting is “…some patients [placed] in the control group adopted diet and exercise plans that were nearly as intense as those in the intensive lifestyle group. Their heart disease still progressed. Diet and exercise alone were not enough to facilitate coronary disease regression. At both one-year and five-year follow-ups, stress management was more strongly correlated with reversal of coronary disease than exercise was.” (Jauhar)
Broken Heart Syndrome
It appears that Doctor Jauhar is correct when he says, “…the emotional heart intersects with its biological counterpart in surprising and mysterious ways.” (Jauhar) This is best seen through a heart disorder that came on the scene about 20 years ago called “takotsubo cardiomyopathy”-“broken heart syndrome.” This is a disorder where the heart acutely weakens in response to intense stress or grief. Some examples of this syndrome are the sudden end of a romance or the death of a loved one, and even during a large widespread social upheaval, like a natural disaster. Doctor Jauhar displays a picture on the screen behind him of a normal heart, a broken heart and a takotsubo urn for which the syndrome is named.
The heart image in the middle is the broken heart, and looks very different from the normal healthy heart on the left. “It appears stunned and frequently balloons into the distinctive shape of a takotsubo, shown on the right, a Japanese pot with a wide base and a narrow neck. We don’t know exactly why this happens, and the syndrome usually resolves within a few weeks. However, in the acute period, it can cause heart failure, life-threatening arrhythmias, even death.” That is very serious. Interestingly, broken heart syndrome can be on set in relation to an extremely happy event as well. The main difference seen here is that the heart appears to react differently. The heart has ballooning in the midportion and not at the top as when the syndrome is from strife. Either way broken hearts are deadly, figuratively and literally.
Animals Feel this Too
In 1980, the journal Science published findings on caged rabbits. These rabbits were fed a high-cholesterol diet in an effort to study cardiovascular disease in the rabbits. Much to the scientists’ surprise some rabbits became more diseased than others. “The rabbits had very similar diet, environment and genetic makeup. They thought it might have something to do with how frequently the technician interacted with the rabbits.” (Jauhar) The same high-cholesterol diet study was repeated with the rabbits, but they were divided into two groups. The one change was how the scientists interacted, or ignored the rabbits. “… in one group, the rabbits were removed from their cages, held, petted, talked to, played with, and in the other group, the rabbits remained in their cages and were left alone.” (Jauhar) After a year it was found that the rabbits who were interacted with and felt loved had 60% less aortic disease than the ignored rabbits. This is interesting because the rabbits as a whole all had similar cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart rate.
Keeping up with a Health Trend
It can be said that we are reaching the limits to what we can do for our heart health when we rely purely on biological processes. To keep the trend of discovering new ways to stay heart healthy something has to change. We will need to begin incorporating emotional health with our physical health. We can do this in various ways including strengthening our emotional intelligence. Doctor Jauhar clarifies that “The American Heart Association still does not list emotional stress as a key modifiable risk factor for heart disease, perhaps in part because blood cholesterol is so much easier to lower than emotional and social disruption.” (Jauhar) Taking the easier path is appearing to be less of a good long-term strategy.
To keep up with our heart health we will need to begin using tools to increase our emotional well-being too. “Perhaps, if we recognize that when we say “a broken heart,” we are indeed sometimes talking about a real broken heart. We must, must pay more attention to the power and importance of the emotions in taking care of our hearts.” (Jauhar)
Watch the full TedTalk by clicking here!
Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If your would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Communication is always evolving. With the newest technologies available to us, we are modifying how we talk and understand communication. (Do we all remember the #hashtag phase? If not Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake did a comedy skit that sums it up perfectly!) One thing is true, we love to communicate with each other. If we are striving to be authentic and impeccable during this communication, we can continue to create a more caring and positive world.
Everyone has a slightly different way of thinking, and thus a different way of interpreting what is being said. If we break down the process of communication we have two parts of the brain that are performing tasks simultaneously. First we have listening and then talking. In his TedTalk neuroscientist Uri Hasson goes through a research study he helped perform. During this study, people were placed in an MRI machine to record which areas of the brain light up while being told/telling a story. What was observed was the areas of the brain that light up during these tasks and the wave patterns that are another depiction of the brains activity. At first the people that were in the MRI machines had irractive results (a.k.a. their minds were thinking about all different things). But when the story began, all of the brains synced up to display almost the same results. These results are an example of neural entrainment. “…we believe that these responses … become similar across listeners because of the meaning conveyed by the speaker, and not by words or sound. ” (Uri Hasson) Uri might be onto something when he comments that this alignment that we are seeing is vital for communication. This communication is stronger when the speaker and the listener are communicating in the same/familiar language. For example, if you have a strong grasp on English, a story told to you in English will be better comprehended verses a story told in an unfamiliar language. It is important to note that retelling a story or memory results in the same activities in the brains of the speaker and listener.Think about the warm fuzzy feeling that you get when telling someone your favorite memory.
Ok, when we both listen and talk our brains have the same activity. But what about truly understanding and the different perspectives people have? Misunderstandings happen all the time in our lives because we often understand the same occurrence in different ways. Uri had another phase in this experiment. He recounts the results on how a story is interpreted by two groups of listeners, where each group had a different framing as a preface to the story. “This one sentence before the story started was enough to make the brain responses of all the people …be very similar [within each group] in these high-order areas and different than the other group. And if one sentence is enough to make your brain similar to people that think like you and very different than people that think differently than you, think how this effect is going to be amplified in real life… that give us very different perspectives on reality.”
Click Here if you would like to watch the full TedTalk by Uri Hasson.
Be Thoughtful and Deliberate- Reaction vs Interaction
Now that we understand a bit more about the science side of talking and listening, how can we use this knowledge to be authentic with our communication? A lot of this deals with being present, thoughtful and deliberate with our words when communicating with others and yourself. (Remember, self talk is super important too!) When reading a Harvard Business Review article by Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines titled Great Leaders Are Thoughtful and Deliberate, Not Impulsive and Reactive, we come to the two-fold idea once again. The part of us that is what we are most familiar with and use day-to-day for scheduling, working, etc. This part is “…run by our pre-frontal [sic.] cortex and mediated through our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the self we prefer to present to the world. It’s calm, measured, rational, and capable of making deliberate choices.” The second part is operated by a small cluster of nuclei in the midbrain called the amygdala. The amygdala “…is mediated by our sympathetic nervous system. Our second self seizes control any time we begin to perceive threat or danger. It’s reactive, impulsive, and operates largely outside our conscious control.”
(A.K.A. the lizard brain, great for surviving an attack by a t-rex or bear, less great for current day issues like when to do the laundry or talk with our partner about an issue.) Most conflicts from triggering the ‘lizard brain’ today are a result of our self value and worth being threatened. You can feel your face get hot, muscles get tense, and breathing can become irregular at these moments. “…but the danger we experience isn’t truly life-threatening. Responding to them as if they are only make things worse.” (Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines) We can do a number of things to remain conscious of these dueling ‘selfs’ as Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines dub them. Some examples that help us check in with our brains and what they are doing/deciding are meditation, journaling, taking a breather, etc.
If this sounds familiar, you would be correct. Taking the time to self-reflect on your thoughts before speaking is a part of self-care, understanding who you are, and how you would like to conduct yourself. This takes a lot to recognise your internal experience. “You can’t change what you don’t notice, but noticing can be a powerful tool for shifting from defending our value to creating value.” Self observe or a stoic stance helps to recognise the emotions and thoughts. Then we are able to interact with the situation/problem/feeling to promote a positive outcome. One way to improve your capacity to self-observe is to begin with a strong emotion such as impatience, frustration, or anger. When you feel it arising, it’s a flashing red light that you’re sliding into the “second self”. If all you can do is just name the emotion, you have made a huge first step to being able to transform them to a positive.
Unified Caring Association has a tool that we love to use and share to help with this. We have a deck of cards and accompanying book called Moonbeam Feeling Pack. With these we can pull a card that has an emotion depicted, read the description, and then decide on what to do with that emotion. If it is a heavy or depleting emotion, we can choose the opposite lighter and renewing emotion Moonbeam identifies which we might just prefer.
What are other red flags for us? “…watch out for times when you feel you’re digging in your heels. The absolute conviction that you’re right and the compulsion to take action are both strong indicators that you‘re feeling a sense of threat and danger.” (Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines) At these times it can be helpful to ask yourself questions like, ‘Is there a different perspective here?’ or ‘What part of this is my responsibility?’ These regular inquiries on your thoughts and feelings help to offset “… your confirmation bias — the instinct to look for evidence that supports what you already believe. By always looking for your own responsibility, you’re resisting the instinct to blame others and play victim and focusing instead on what you have the greatest ability to influence — your own behavior.” (Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines) With practice these new skills will allow us to better interact with others while communication, not just react to the other person’s words. This interaction often promotes more creativity, productivity, and overall satisfaction. Know thyself can become a lasting mantra. Knowing our truth/authentic self/who we are is a core foundation to being impeccable with our words. Without our self-awareness and inner confidence we often struggle with actually knowing what to say.
What we say matters as much as how we say it.
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice…being kind, being compassionate, being inclusive and straight up and just being good to people is what matters.” [Dwayne Johnson]
Yes this is a quote from ‘The Rock’ and it holds a ton of truth to it. Being nice goes a long way. We are now having a better grasp on what to do, now we need to practice how to interact. There is a bit of an art to this interaction while stating your new found, productive truth. We want to stand up for ourselves while maintaining a nice and positive attitude. This is not always easy to do, especially during an argument or giving bad news to another person. Joyce E. A. Russell talks about this a bit in her article on Forbes.com titled Being Honest And Nice At Work Actually Works: “…you do have to stand up for yourself and you have to give honest feedback to people who are not doing what they should be doing, but you can still do this in a kind, compassionate, nice and firm way.” This returns us to the original idea that we should be impeccable with our words. Have you ever received a bad review at work is such a nice way that you really heard the feedback? It not only leaves you feeling motivated, but you then have a better comprehension of what you should improve.
Our brains love stories. We see through studies like Uri Hasson’s where we can map and measure how active and where the activity occurs. But the stories and words we hear often are not exactly what the speaker/teller means. It is important to be thoughtful and deliberate when speaking and listening. This helps us ensure we are fully communicating and comprehending what is being said. This takes a bit of work, but being authentic, thoughtful, and deliberate helps with our caring communication. This all builds to the belief that what we say and how we say it matters. We all want to help make the world a more caring and thriving place to live. We can do this by being impeccable with your caring words.
- Hasson, U. (2016, February). This is your brain on communication. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.ted.com/talks/uri_hasson_this_is_your_brain_on_communication
- Pines, T. S. (2019, April 18). Great Leaders Are Thoughtful and Deliberate, Not Impulsive and Reactive. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://hbr.org/2019/04/great-leaders-are-thoughtful-and-deliberate-not-impulsive-and-reactive
- Russell, J. E. (2019, June 25). Being Honest And Nice At Work Actually Works. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/joyceearussell/2019/06/24/being-honest-and-nice-at-work-actually-works/#2cf744106d46
Want to read more about UCA and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other blogs on caring, member benefits, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) has multiple scholarships available during the year to help children with funds for schooling. Each time we read these submissions we are moved and excited, especially when we notice themes in the submissions. Recently we wrote a blog about one theme, empathy. We want to celebrate the other themes these essays touch upon, such as gratitude.
Gratitude is as gratitude does…
Gratitude is a topic we touch on often. Such as our other blogs titled Wired for Gratitude and Caring Through The Gift of Time. In these topics we have compiled and shared information about how acts of gratitude promote self-care and caring for others. Adopting a mindset of gratitude ultimately promotes health and healthy lifestyles while encouraging others to do the same. We are bursting with joy to see that the upcoming generations are taking steps to promote gratitude in their lives and the lives they touch as well.
Nadia Finley-Gratitude -Strength From Challenges
We all have many challenges we face in our lives. How we respond during and after these challenges make a difference. UCA loves to hear when the response is with care, positivity, and gratitude. Nadia wrote a unique essay on how she is grateful for all of the challenges that have made her who she is today. Stronger, empowered, and more grateful for all that happens in her life. She shares her journey with us by speaking with emotion to someone who bullied her, moving through levels of gratitude: “Thank you! Because I realize the discrimination I suffered only made me stronger. Thank you! I learned where there is adversity, there is an opportunity to show unconditional love. Thank you! For not realizing my worth, it forced me to value my own unique beauty, without your approval. Thank you! I own this experience in pain, which in turn is more powerful than living in the illusion where you tried to keep me… Now I am grateful for my challenges.” Thank you for sharing with us Nadia, we are grateful for you, and all you do!
Faith Lovato- Gratitude, A New Perspective
“If I could change one thing in this world to make it a more caring place, I would change the way people view their lives.” This is the topic of Faith’s essay. She remarks about how most people are ‘normally’ “…ungrateful, unsatisfied, undetermined, content and unaware of how blessed they are.” Faith wants to change this and promote a new perspective on life. This is a perspective of gratitude, positivity and realizing that the little things add up. “Focus your attention to the little things in life. Because the little things are what matter in life.” Faith would like for us to stop spending time on what we lack. Exchanging that time for appreciating what we have. She echoes other comments we have read that time spent on technological devices can promote a view of lacking and unappreciation. Spending time with others, sharing your gratitude, and striving for a positive perspective on life makes all of the small things we experience add up to the larger good in our lives.
Allison Jarman- The Little Things Can Make the Biggest Impacts
Remember Faith’s essay mentions how all of the little things in life add up? Allison wrote a moving essay with the focus on “…helping people to see that we change the world by doing small things.” She tells us about her life experiences through her interactions and time spent with a friend who has down syndrome. “It always made me so happy when I would come over. My friend showed her happiness by waiting for me outside and being very grateful. With very minimal effort, I was able to show my friend that I cared and help bring her some happiness.” Allison shares that her friend’s mother too is grateful for the friendship and time spent with her daughter. This makes three direct moments of gratitude and joy. We can picture them spending time together, laughing and playing.
Allison states, “I would like to help others experience the joy and happiness I have experienced through small acts. It does not take giant acts of kindness to make the world a better place, small acts of kindness and love will make it a more caring place.” This is wonderful to read because there is more impact when real actions support our words; a.k.a. actions can speak louder than words. Allison wants to lead by example by teaching “…others that simple things such as checking up on a friend, giving compliments and using patience while driving are all simple acts of service.” In her finishing comments she states that “if we all worked on at least these three areas the world would be a much better place.”
We have been so excited to share themes from our scholarships, that we wanted to take the time to say thank you to all of the applicants. We are filled with joy when we read all of your caring essays. Without a doubt gratitude is a strong way to go forward to help create a more caring world.
Want to read more about UCA and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other blogs on caring, member benefits, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!
We have been writing a lot about gratitude in the past month. And we wanted to continue sharing the research we have found on why gratitude is so good for our well-being. Gratitude is universal, spanning across cultures and history. We see many forms of gratitude such as giving gifts, time and status to honor to those around us. To our surprise there was a study in 2012 by the John Templeton Foundation. It concludes “While 90% of respondents consider themselves grateful, only 52 percent of women and 44 percent of the men surveyed express gratitude on a regular basis.” These results are an eye opener to us. Based on the recent research that has been published gratitude is a key to success. Gratitude is a foundation for many other areas of our well-being.
Positive Mind Makes for a Positive Body
When we embody gratitude we feel better and more energetic. This means that we are more likely to go out for hikes or other physical activities. We also are more likely to interact with those we love and be present throughout the day. Geoffery James comments on this in his article, Neuroscience Says Your Body and Mind Get Stronger When You Focus on This 1 Thing, “According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who keep gratitude journals ‘reported fewer health complaints, more time exercising, and fewer symptoms of physical illness.’” (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/neuroscience-says-your-body-mind-get-stronger-when-you-focus-on-this-one-thingdraft-1562273865.html?fbclid=IwAR0Q-D4cLzOmSlgYxtJTDBzl-u1s1bDStlmgOZIpJ1lnnoqgGSoQ3FHGGsQ) With this increase activity we see healthier and better sleep patterns, and reduced stress levels in those who practice more gratitude. According to a study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information“cultivating appreciation and other positive emotions showed lower levels of stress hormones [specifically] a 23 percent reduction in cortisol and 100 percent increase in DHEA/DHEAS levels.” (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/neuroscience-says-your-body-mind-get-stronger-when-you-focus-on-this-one-thingdraft-1562273865.html?fbclid=IwAR0Q-D4cLzOmSlgYxtJTDBzl-u1s1bDStlmgOZIpJ1lnnoqgGSoQ3FHGGsQ) Both of these allow for a better mental capacity for handling the day and all of its challenges, as well as being key components to help heal the brain.
While we are on the subject of healthy bodies, it is important to note that having more gratitude leads to a healthier and stronger heart. Some of this can be from the increase in exercise and reduced stress levels we mention above. “A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association found that patients who kept gratitude journals for eight weeks showed reductions in levels of several inflammatory biomarkers while they wrote.” (https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health)
A part of a healthy body is a healthy mind. In her article, Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude, Linda Roszak Burton mentions three studies on how gratitude helps keep the mind healthy and promotes overall well-being. “A 2006 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found Vietnam War veterans with high levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder…Stats Show Improved Mental Health – Recently published, the Journal of Research in Personality examined gratitude and grit to confer resiliency to suicide by increasing meaning in life…Emotional Well-Being – A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found the relationship between gratitude and well-being leads to lower stress and depression and higher levels of social support.” (https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health)
Gratitude and the Effects on Health at Work
One aspect of life that greatly affects gratitude and acts of gratitude is work. We can see that a leader who expresses how grateful they are will yield more productive output with happier employees. A study reported by Harvard Medical School and done by researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that “employees who were thanked by their managers made 50% more fund-raising calls than their counterparts who hadn’t heard the same token of appreciation.” We can be apply this to other industries. Just think of how wonderful the world would be in we heard more thank yous at work! This increase in productivity accompanies the idea that gratitude and appreciation creates feelings of being valued. Often when we feel valued we are in productive, healthy relationships. We also tend to have high job satisfaction, and motivation to do our best, working towards achieving the company’s goals.
Our Bodies are Wired to be at Their Best When We Are Grateful
If we pull this all together we can see that our bodies and minds are at their best when we are maintaining gratitude throughout the day. We see an increase in healing in the mind and body. This in turn creates more energy and a drive for interaction with others. All of this leads to an increase in productivity with success shared by all. As the quote from Cicero states, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” We have access to a strong foundation of gratitude within ourselves. It is from this which all other aspects of our lives grow and thrive.
Read more UCA articles on gratitude, self-care, and well-being on our other blogs. Some examples are: Caring Through the Gift of Time, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Thank you for reading our blog, and for being a part of a caring community!
“Successful people are just those with successful habits.” — Bryan Tracy