Each day we interact with friends, family, and many other people. During these interactions we often strive to make meaningful connections. There are so many ways we can connect, and one is the most prominent: talking with each other. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have recently seen a wonderful TedTalk by Celeste Headlee about 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. This is a wonderful speech that helps us understand different ways to connect with others through conversation.
The World We Live In
Celeste begins her speech talking about the shift in how we hold conversations with each other due to the integration of technology. Many people spend most of their time communicating through emails and texts. Celeste makes a good point: this world we live in has great potential but can quickly devolve into arguments. Think about how a text that is misread triggers us to feel a wide range of negative emotions. This communication trend is especially prominent in children and teens. “Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We’re less likely to compromise, which means we’re not listening to each other. And we make decisions … based on what we already believe.” If we are not holding balanced conversations and listening to each other, we are losing out.
A VIP Skill-Communication
A high school teacher, named Paul Barnwell, gave his students a communication project to teach them how to speak on a specific topic without notes. It became apparent that conversational competence might be one of the most underdeveloped skills for students. This difficulty is partly due to kids spending hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens. Rarely do these kids have an opportunity to develop interpersonal communications skills. Barnwell asks, “Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?”
How to Have a Great Conversation
Most of us have an idea of how to actively listen and participate in a conversation. Some of these tips are: look the person in the eye, think of interesting topics before you meet, smile, and repeat back a summary of what you heard for further clarification. Celeste Headlee argues that we should forget all or most of this in an effort to have not just good conversations, but great conversations. We all have had interactions that we walk away from craving more. This drive to have a longer interaction is a sign of a great conversation. These connections allow us to feel engaged and inspired, and that we are perfectly understood.Headlee has ten great tips to achieve this result almost every time you hold a conversation.
Right off the get-go, Headlee hits the ground running! We all should avoid multitasking. Juggling your “to-do” list with the argument you had with your significant other three days ago while talking with your best friend is not devoting caring time with your best friend. When we do not multitask, we are present and in the moment with the person(s) we are having a conversation with.
Next, Celeste strongly recommends not pontificating. When we pontificate we become predictable and have a harder time keeping an open mind. “You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.” This can mean setting aside your personal opinion for the time being, allowing the speaker to have room and encouragement to open up.
Thirdly, when asking questions, use open-ended questions. Part of this technique is psychological. When we have a strong word prompt, such as terrifying, we respond to it and formulate a comment that reflects the same intensity and mood. To hold a better conversation let the speaker identify the thought and feeling. “Let them describe it. They’re the ones that know. Try asking them things like, ‘What was that like?’ ‘How did that feel?’ Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you’re going to get a much more interesting response.”
Number four: Try to let go or go with the flow. Thoughts will appear; even if these thoughts do not relate to the conversation, let them go out of your mind. Sometimes these thoughts are lists of groceries, or a really great question we DO want to ask the person we are talking with. The issue can be that we are not actually listening, and maybe that really great question was already answered.
Five: If you don’t know an answer, admit it, and move forward. This surrender to not knowing everything helps us become more relatable to the other person we are talking with. Also, it can help us build or maintain our credibility, and hopefully strengthen our relationships. So, say that you don’t know in an effort to err on the side of caution.
Next, is an important note to remember. We do not want to equate our experience with the other person’s. Each experience and feeling is unique to the person it pertains to. We can never feel exactly the same. Think about the proverb: You can never step in the same river twice. This is true because the water is constantly flowing, and therefore never the same in any spot. “More importantly, it is not about you. You don’t need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you’ve suffered.”
Number seven: Try our hardest to not repeat yourself. The repetition can become boring to the listener, and possible condescending. Take a moment during your next conversation to count how many times you repeat yourself, and you might realize that we tend to repeat ourselves a lot.
We are coming to the home stretch of Headlee’s list. Eighth in line is advice for many situations outside and inside of conversations: try to avoid using too many facts. Most people are less interested in how many years you did “such-and-such” or the names and dates of your 20 second cousins twice removed. What truly matters to others is the genuine you; what you are like and have in common.
Ninth in line is VIP: LISTEN. Most of us equate active listening with holding a great conversation, and truly listening takes many of the state steps into account. Many successful people believe and share that listening is perhaps the most important skill that you can develop. Headlee paraphrases Buddha with pizzazz. “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” Why is listening so hard when it is so important? Well, it can come down to controlling the conversation through talking, especially if we are afraid. There is an additional reason: We have short attention spans (a.k.a. we get distracted, easily). On average a person talks at a rate of about 225 words per minute. However, our brains can listen to 500+ words per minute. In the 275 gaps between we tend to fill in or lose focus on the conversation. As another example, think about how quickly we lose interest in a video on Facebook or YouTube? If the content doesn’t grab us within the first 20-30 seconds, we move on. It takes a great amount of energy and effort to pay attention to someone while holding a conversation with them. Otherwise, you are just shouting monologues that might overlap with each other.
Last but not least, number 10. Celeste Headlee keeps it simple as she shares a quote from her sister: Be brief. “A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”
What is the basic concept?
What is the common thread we find in all ten of Headlee’s tips? The answer: “Be interested in other people. …assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them.” We can be amazed at all our caring community has to offer when holding truly great conversations with each other. We encourage our caring community to share the caring by connecting through conversations. And remember, caring conversations with ourselves can be a form of self-care!
Watch the full TedTalk by clicking HERE!
Would you like to read more caring blogs? We have other blogs on topics on UCA benefits: Medical Bill Negotiation, Nutrition to Help Prevent Depression, and Gut-Brain Connection! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter!
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!
Most of us love to cook with care. We gently wash the produce, plucking leaves off mint for tea, or even the act of folding whipped cream into a rich chocolate mousse bring joy into the world. With the holiday season in full swing, most of us are taking up our spatulas and pans to create scrumptious meals for ourselves and those we love. Just one trick to overcome… when will we have the time to cook a feast?! Unified Caring Association (UCA) has a solution for you! We have just put together a cookbook titled Care to Cook: Casually & Quickly. This cookbook is filled with caring recipes that are simple to make and delicious to eat!
Nutrition is important for everyone, and can be overlooked in our busy lives. We want to help people in our caring community plan meals to be healthier. This cookbook was created with those of us who are strapped for time. (Think about people who work two to three jobs, have families and have no time to dilly dally. Yet, they love home cooked food that is flavorful and a delight to the pallet.) This cookbook is designed to provide recipes that are uncomplicated, yet delicious. Unified Caring Association members have access to this cookbook under the benefits tab for nutrition. AND soon to come, UCA will have a printed copy available for purchase in the Caring Community Store for all who visit to buy!
At the beginning of the cookbook there is a short introduction and index. It is here that we can find suggestions for substitute for butter, salt, and more. Also there are suggestions for appreciation and gratitude for the food we eat. Following this is a nifty cheat-sheet for cooking times that are needed for produce, meat, poultry, etc. This sheet comes in handy at any point during a cooking adventure! Now we get into the index proper. We see a list of a variety of entrees, appetizers, desserts, and more. We just start to practically drool when we read over these recipes, and know that our caring cooks will too!
Taking a Sweet Sneak Peek
Below is a preview of one of the recipes that is in our caring cookbook, Care to Cook: Casually & Quickly. Try these candied pecans as a fun thank you holiday gift for those you care about. Whether they are your family, friends, or coworkers, they are sure to enjoy the gift given with kindness.
Whether you are heading to a party or just getting home from a long day at work, these recipes are a great way to take care of yourself and the ones you care for. We are glad to have this caring cookbook to help fuel our caring community. With the nutrition and TLC that comes from our food, we can continue sharing caring around the world.
Would you like to read more about Unified Caring Association? Caring Connection 24-7, UCA & Scholarships, How to Improve the World By Caring, and It All Starts With Self-Care are just some of our other blogs that are wonderful, quick reads. Or, check out our website to read more about Unified Caring Association memberships, caring communities, our Caring Challenge and more! We also love connecting with our followers on social media (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to share caring throughout the week!
Mental strength can aid our focus and motivation, while also helping to achieve our goals. There are so many thoughts and activities in our full days that we often get burned out. Other than a nice relaxing spa day, doing yoga, or going on a hike, we can do small practices that help us build our mental strength. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) were recently asked to look at how to explain mental strength and how to improve it in a caring way. We gladly took up the challenge!
Mental strength is…
The short definition is: having the ability to maintain our self-confidence and drive during stressful activities. This ties into our resilience and being able to bounce back when we encounter stress. Some characteristics of mental strength are composure, persistence, positivity and self-motivation.
When do we need it?
Maintaining mental strength is something we would love to have at all times. However, we are human and to be human is to juggle life. Sometimes as we elevate one part of our life, a different part lowers. The key is to refocus on each part as they are in movement. This is when we enact our mental fortitude. “…you need fierce determination and tenacity to reach your greatest potential … [it] will help you develop resilience to overcome those hazards and continue on your journey. Mentally strong people overcome setbacks with confidence, because adversity only makes them better.” (Psychology Today)
How do we develop it?
Building up our mental strength is much like monitoring and improving our physical health. Practicing each day, and doing activities that help exercise our mind is a big part of developing our mental resilience. Start with celebrating the small victories. We are more apt to continue building and maintaining a habit if we have positive reinforcement. For example, patting yourself on the back after holding your focus during a project. Like in meditation, learning a new sport, or getting better at math, practice makes perfect. Below we have a handful of suggestions found on the Forbes website for activities that can help build and maintain mental strength.
All of us are on a journey of self-care and developing our physical health, emotional intelligence and mental strength. That is how we become more resilient. With these skills we can bring more caring into the world for ourselves, families and community.
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!
We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are no strangers to the chaos of life. Sometimes the chaos is overwhelming and we get lost in a sea of “things-to-do” while the world seems to be against us. Fear not, because there are ways to simplify your life through organization, mindfulness and self-care routines.
A Caring Journey
While reading an article on https://simonsinek.com/, we were moved by the author’s (Kristen Hadeed) journey from realization to caring acts that helped them out of their slump. It all started when Kristen was at work, feeling frustrated and discouraged before a big, long team meeting. The first thing she did was to be honest about how she was feeling when asked. “I told everyone how I truly felt without sugarcoating any part of it.”
What Kristen experienced was an incredible blossoming of support via the team listening. We often forget that our peers, family and friends are here to support us with caring thoughts and acts. Kristen painted the image perfectly when she recounted that “[her] team listened. They hugged me. They helped me make sense of my feelings. They validated them.” Kristen has a super team because they took the caring two steps further. “They owned their part in what led to me feeling the way I did. They came together and created a plan to move us forward.”
Dealing With Discouraging Moments…
Discouragement is something we all can encounter in our lives. What we do in those moments makes all the difference. Below are some suggestions that Kristen Hadeed used to achieve success in dealing with her discouragement.
Taking the time to reflect on your day and feelings brings clarity. This clairity helps us become more in tune with our emotions (i.e. helps build emotional intelligence). “I was able to pinpoint how I was feeling last week and what was causing it.” (Kristen Hadeed)
Being honest with others and yourself is crucial. If something is causing you to feel negative and down, one of the worst things you can do is minimize it. Stuffing feelings inside like a turkey on Thanksgiving is one of the most tragic things you can do when feeling discouraged. We can all related to Kristen when she writes, “If you pretend your feelings don’t exist and sweep them under the rug, they’ll continue to build and build and build. Eventually you’ll explode, and when you do, it won’t be pretty.” If you are honest with yourself and those around you, you are able to let go of the negative emotions, build a plan, and begin self-care efforts. Remember, no one can help you if they are not getting any communication from you. People are not mind readers. As Kristen expressed above, her team created a caring support net for her and helped her develop a plan to dispel the discouragement.
Answers Can Come From All Around
To tie into honesty and communication, solutions can come from more than one place. We can find some within ourselves, from the people we know, or even researching online. “When we’re emotional, we’re usually not logical. When we’re too close to the problem, we’re usually not able to see a clear path forward…You invite people in, you give them a chance to make a difference, and you build trust by showing that you’re human. Asking for help is courageous.” (Kristen Hadeed)
Reprioritize and Organize
Taking caring action is the next step. One reason we can feel discouraged is because we are over-extended. Setting up your to-do lists in sections with labels for the level of importance and how time sensitive they are. If the task is not crucial, it can wait until later. There is nothing wrong with hitting that pause button and picking that task up later. Better yet, maybe there is a way to share or delegate the task out to get it off your plate completely!
Reflecting on how many good things happen each day is a quick and easy way to alleviate stress and get rid of discouragement. Kristen lists around ten things she is thankful for before starting the day. We can also can do this at night in the form of a gratitude journal. If ten seems to be a bit much, start with three and build from there. The consistent flood of gratitude will help reset your brain, wiring it to be more open and positive.
Refuel To Reset
Think about what energizes you. What things do you love to do that bring out your best attitude? These are different for each person. For some it is dancing, or painting, and for some others it could be meditating in a quiet forest. What ever refuels you will help reset your emotions and energize you to maintain the caring actions that prevent discouragement.
We all get discouraged at times, but what we do in those moments is key to our success. Taking time admit and express our feelings honestly give us space to take time to build a self-care plan, act on it, and reset our minds (and lives). I addition to our blogs, we at UCA have many tools for our UCA members to help assess their personal well-being, and build a self-care routine that will help maintain positivity and success in their lives.
We love sharing UCA caring news and resources, research, and caring acts in our community through our website and blogs. Or would like to receive more Unified Caring Association caring notes throughout the week? Follow us on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter! We are looking forward to sharing more with you, our caring community!
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.