6 Skills That You C.C.C.A.A.N Strive Towards.
Here are some of my essential skills to supercharge your self-development. Last time we looked at Courage, Connection and Compassion. This time we are focusing on Authenticity, Altruism and Neuroplasticity. Let’s see how many you can tick off your list and how many could be a new focus for you.
Authenticity, Altruism and Neuroplasticity
Authenticity is a must for supercharging our self-development. It forces us to grow, mature and is a vital human skill for managing life and all our relationships. Being genuine and real are desired and desirable qualities that can elevate our self-development and understanding of who we truly are. Steven Joseph PhD defines authentic people as;
- Having realistic perceptions of reality.
- Are accepting of themselves and of other people.
- Having a non-hostile sense of humour.
- Able to express their emotions freely and clearly.
- Open to learning from their mistakes.
- Understanding their motivations.
Equally inauthentic people show the following characteristics.
- Are self-deceptive and unrealistic in their perceptions of reality.
- Look to others for approval and to feel valued.
- Are judgemental of other people.
- Do not think things through clearly.
- Have a hostile sense of humour.
- Are unable to express their emotions freely and clearly.
- Are not open to learning from their mistakes.
- Do not understand their motivations.
Authenticity is a real way to supercharge your self-development and a challenging process to discover who you are and be able to face the world and act with value and integrity.
Supercharging your self-development means you need to demonstrate (rather than give lip service to) your ability to act in ways to increase the quality of life for other human beings and be concerned for the happiness of others. These acts can be materialistic, emotional and spiritual but are focused on the benefit of others to improve their circumstance.
Dale Miller in his research The Norm of Self Interest believed all human behaviour was and should be, driven by selfish motivations. Miller proposed that a ‘norm exists in Western cultures that specifies self-interest both is and ought to be a powerful determinant of behaviour. This norm influences people’s actions and opinions as well as the accounts they give for their actions and opinions. It leads people to act and speak as though they care more about their material self-interest than they do.’ However although in western cultures we may act and speak as if our self-interests are the only thing that matters to us, the reality is quite different.
The 2016 World Giving index registered billions of people all over the world giving time, money and offering help to strangers, even when they themselves were struggling. They did these acts of kindness and altruism with the expectation they would receive nothing in return. Consumerism and economic drive make us think in ways that push us away from compassion, generosity and altruistic acts when it is human nature to want and demonstrate kindness. In fact, caring and giving for each other is integral to who we are. The real norm is altruistic interest which research has shown improves our wellbeing in many ways. In fact, altruism improves our lives by the following ways;
- Helper’s High: Researchers have consistently found that people report a significant happiness boost after doing kind deeds for others. Giving to charity activates brain regions associated with pleasure, social connection, trust and may trigger the release of endorphins in the brain, giving us a “helper’s high.”
- Mental and Physical Benefits: Acts of altruism such as spending money on others and volunteering may lower our blood pressure, reduce aches and pains, give us better overall physical health, and less depression. Older people who volunteer or regularly help friends or relatives have a significantly lower chance of dying. Researcher Stephen Post reports that altruism even improves the health of people with chronic illnesses such as HIV and multiple sclerosis.
- Makes Financial Value: Research indicates that altruists may receive financial rewards for their kindness as others will feel compelled to reward their kindness. In donating money to charity businesses, are seen as more valuable in the eyes of their customers and the society as a whole.
- Improve your love life: David Buss surveyed more than 10,000 people across 37 cultures and found out kindness was the most important quality in choosing your partner. This was across all cultures and a universal similarity. Research has also found altruists have more sex.
- Cure for addiction? People with serious addictions who choose to help others, even in small ways, improve their chances of staying sober and avoiding
- Belonging: Altruism builds social connections. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky believes, that ‘being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably [and this] fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.’
- Be smarter: Using altruistic learning in class with a solid curriculum incorporating real-world community service improves academic performance and connectivity to the school community. Cooperative learning promotes positive relationships, better psychological health, and those students are less likely to bully.
In other words, promoting self-interests over altruistic interests isn’t necessarily how we really behave, what we really believe and isn’t mentally, physically or financially better for us. Supercharging your self-development means avoiding this cultural inclination or false belief and focus on being open and upfront about how you care for others and what you do for others.
We’ve all heard about the brain that changes, how we can create new pathways and structures in that grey matter. This new research contradicted old ways of how we thought about ourselves and our brains. We are not stuck with how our brains work. We now know that with the right tools and determination we can alter some parts of our thinking and brain behaviour.
The term Neuroplasticity (or brain plasticity or neural plasticity) is by definition the ability of the brain to change throughout our lives. We have found out that our brain activity, in some but not all areas, can be transferred to a different location, our actual grey matter can change, and synapses can be strengthened or weakened. Things that can affect the changes are
behaviour, environment, or neural processes. We can follow how the brain engages in synaptic pruning. This means our brains can actively delete some neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful. In the same way, we can strengthen the connections we need.
This is important when we are talking about the effects of negative thinking because it demonstrates how what we think can change our brain. Knowing how to strengthen, grow and flex our ability to change our thoughts means we can be ‘better salespeople and better athletes, and learn to love the taste of broccoli, treat eating disorders, lower our risk of dementia by 60% and help us discover our true essence of joy and peace.’
Training the brain to think differently alters our mood, beliefs and quality of life.
We can literally grow happiness.
So, we have been talking about the CCCAAN of supercharging your self-development. Why not pick one of the six ways to improve who you are and focus on building that strength, your human skill. Once you have conquered that superpower, begin on your next skill.
Remember that brain of yours is ready and designed for change, and now is as good a time as any to find out how much you can change and grow.
EFA Employee Family resources
US Berkley College greater good magazine
Dale Miller (1996) The Norm of Self Interest
Steven Jospe PhD
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky