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Caring for others helps us build resilience against stress - how might we use this as an incentive?

In this talk, Kelly McGonigal highlights how caring for others helps us build resilience against stress. How might we use this resilience as an incentive to encourage young people and older adults to come together and care for each other?

Photo of Jes Simson
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Kelly McGonigal talks about how caring for others helps us build resilience against strength, including alleviating some of health implications caused by stress.

How might we use resilience building as an incentive to enourage young people and older adults to come together and care for each other?


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Photo of Lina Padilla


Thank you for sharing this video. It is so interesting how "caring builds resilience". Her words are so insightful about how thinking and acting help us to deal with and understand what happens in our bodies naturally. In addition to the comment below from Kaushik, we need to encourage young people to get in the habit of caring for others and thinking about others. Practice makes perfect :) You are right to offer an incentive at first, but the hope is that they realize the true value and benefit beyond the reward that they get. Hopefully we can cultivate empathy and have dramatic and meaningful impact! Thanks!

Photo of Jes Simson

Hey Lina, thanks for your feedback, you make a really good point!

I completely agree that we need to move away from the 'what will I get from this' mindset to encourage young people to get in the habit of caring and thinking about others. However, I still believe that incentives / motivation is a really important factor to consider if you want to encourage long term mentoring engagement. I agree that relying on extrinsic motivations (like getting physical rewards (college application benefits), financial or status rewards) may not really lead to long term engagement, in that as soon as that reward or motivation stops, the incentive to participate dwindles.

However, I do think that long term participation in part relies on intrinsic motivations - basically those internal incentives that keep you going because you enjoy the process and what you get out of it. I think you mean the same thing when you say that mentors need to see the true value and benefit. It could be that caring for others has health and resilience benefits (as above). It could be that you feel good about yourself because you are doing good. You could really enjoy the impact- you are helping one person in a really tangible way. You enjoy contributing to and helping to build your community. You might enjoy the company, making new friends and building social bonds. You might learn from the person you are mentoring. You might enjoy teaching and sharing your skills in a valuable way. You might enjoy building better better empathy skills. You might just really enjoy the process and journey. My gut says that people will be more willing to participate long term if they get these kids of 'rewards' from the process. They might not identify these factors as motivators or rewards, but they have to be present. My personal experience is that I tend to fall away from volunteer roles when the experience doesn't heed to one of these incentives. I'll stick at it for a while, but it's not sustainable in the long run.

Photo of Annie Valdes

I love the conversations coming out of this contribution because it's important that we understand the different motivations people may be bringing to both sides of the mentoring equation. Better understanding these perspectives could inspire new ways of engaging these groups—for example, not everyone is compelled to act for the same reasons, so a program that emphasizes "credit" for participation might get very different participants than one that emphasizes building relationships or community, and this is a good thing! The more diverse the options, the more diverse the participants, so I say bring it on!

I'd sure love to hear more about how different kinds of programs are working different angles of motivation...

Photo of Lina Padilla

Hi Jes,

Oh absolutely! I don't mean to take offering incentives off of the table. I just mean that there is a reluctance- because ideally we want them to want to help to want to help. But of course- we have to get the audience interested first :)

Annie- You have a point!! By offering the incentive or changing the wording, we will find a diverse volunteer group which is always interesting to learn further! Thanks!

Photo of Jes Simson

Hey Annie - great point about how appealing to different types of motivations will foster different cultures and encourage different participants. As a teenager I used to volunteer at my local Surf Life Saving Club. Because kids and teenagers largely used the club as a means to make and hang out with friends it had a completely different culture to other organisations where people participated for other reasons. It also meant that participation wasn't particularly sustainable, as that incentive was easily satisfied elsewhere.

It would be really interesting to pair different types of programs with possible incentives and experiment to see which pairings work . For instance, an academic "credit" type incentive might work really well for academically focused mentoring programs where skills are exchanged and taught (like Granny Cloud). A program that encourages young people to help older people with everyday chores (Like Participle: might be better off designing a system that helps participants tap into their desire to help build their community and impact someone's life in a meaningful way.

And Lina, I completely agree that we really should aim to get people engaged because they want to help. From an incentives perspective, people who actually want to do good for the sake of doing good might engage more deeply and volunteer for greater periods of time.

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