Our ability to care for and about others sets us apart from any other species on our planet. Yet, when I asked my students for feedback on my teaching over the past year, I was taken aback by the number of anonymous comments which praised the fact that I cared, either about the topics or the students themselves.
My enthusiastic teaching approach and use of well-being polls to check in with and sign post students were very much appreciated. So the big question is; when did caring become something that feels unusual and others feel the need praise?
We all care about different things for different reasons. It might be that we have a personal motivation to back a cause. Perhaps we care about something because we really enjoy it. In some circumstances we might have to care for others, because there is no other option.
The reasons I care about science and teaching are deep rooted inside me. I find science fascinating, I love learning and seeing the “lightbulb” moment on someone’s face as they understand a new topic for the very first time. I am incredibly fortunate because I love my job and what I do. My job aligns with my values and allows me to showcase science and help and support others along their awesome journey’s in science.
Studies have shown that caring is for others is good for us, it can reduce stress and increase our happiness. I hope you have all been fortunate enough to experience that warm glow of happiness when someone shows you that they care. Well, the science shows that caring helps everyone involved, the person doing the caring and those being cared for.
But this got me thinking, as someone who cares a lot, can you care too much? I think the short answer is probably yes!
Caring for someone or something creates an emotional attachment and that can take a considerable amount of physical and emotional energy. Caring is a good thing, but it undoubtedly takes significant amounts of energy and when we care about other things and other people, it can be all too easy to forget to care about ourselves.
Yes, I do care. Perhaps a bit too much, but yet I am really grateful to see that my students notice it. Caring takes energy, but it is an incredibly powerful thing to see the reaction from others when you believe, support and care about them. It is a privilege to be able to care and to help others as well as myself.
So please remember, don’t be afraid to care!