Fostering connection, one meetup at a time: How The Awareness, Courage and Love Global Project is deepening relationship worldwide

In a world that seems more isolated than ever, The Awareness, Courage and Love (ACL) Global Project is working to unite people in meaningful communication that not only brings people together but also promotes self-actualization. More than just having conversations with other people, ACL is guided by scientific research and purposeful discussion that allows for participants to open up in ways they may have never thought possible before.

A nonprofit organization, ACL was created in 2015 in the form of meetups. The organization began with just one group based in Seattle, Washington, and after years of growth, it is now a worldwide phenomenon that consists of chapters in 29 countries and 6 continents cities and continues to grow.

Mavis Tsai, the Founder and Executive Director of the ACL Global Project, is a clinical psychologist who has made it her mission to ameliorate the widespread public health issue of loneliness. Out of research that she was conducting, she developed the idea of an organization that would allow people all across the world to learn more about themselves and strengthen their connections with other people. Thus, ACL was born and began to foster deep communication and listening among people everywhere.

Origins of ACL

ACL originated when Tsai and her spouse started Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP), which led to five books and a following around the world. Tsai wanted to create a way for people across the globe to have access to the powerful principles of FAP, without having to be in therapy, and so ACL came to be.

“ACL’s mission is to grow a worldwide network of open-hearted change seekers who strive to meet life’s challenges through deepening interpersonal connection and rising to live more true to ourselves,” Tsai said. “We’re looking to alleviate the major public health crisis of loneliness and isolation and reach any person who desires richer relationships.”

At its core, ACL works to deepen interpersonal connection and truth for its members. The organization bases its work on the fact that connection with others is absolutely crucial for physical and mental health.

What ACL does and how it works

At ACL, Tsai and her team make a space for people to come together, connect and create more meaningful and passionate lives. This is done through chapter meetups, with each chapter guided by its own leader. During the meetings, participants practice open-hearted presence, deep listening, embrace vulnerability and respond to contemplation questions that focus on different themes. Themes range from unlived lives and dying without regrets to cultivating resilience and living with intention.

“We help people delve into what’s meaningful,” Tsai said. “This can include addressing unfinished business or the courage to face the unknown.”

In addition to exploring these themes, group members also participate in a guided meditation to acknowledge times when the themes were present in their lives, as well as promote being truly present in the moment.

“If you’re not true to yourself, you can’t connect with others from a genuine place,” Tsai said.

During the pandemic, which has brought a heightened sense of isolation, the meetups have been especially important for people. Currently, they’re conducted through video meetings. As far as connection tips in the time of COVID-19, Tsai said it helps to increase eye contact, to ask meaningful questions, to self-disclose with vulnerability and to reflect with warmth and acceptance.

“Loneliness is as rampant as ever but many people aren’t talking about it,” she said.

In these current times of isolation, Tsai said she has seen that social media can have different effects. During the pandemic, some people find it life-saving and a good way to connect with others.

“Interacting on social media for some people can be like making warm contact at the drinking fountain when people were working at the office,” she said. “We need to be researching and harnessing the positive aspects and decreasing the negative effects.”

At ACL, it’s all about awareness, courage and love. There, awareness is defined as taking notice of one’s internal feelings as well as the feelings of others, and not passing judgment while doing so. When it comes to courage, it’s about taking steps outside of one’s comfort zone in order to live more true to one’s self, for instance verbalizing a vulnerable thought or feeling that may otherwise go unexpressed. Finally, love in this sense is defined as treating one’s own and others’ experiences with compassion and being open to receiving that same compassion back.

Taking these principles, chapter leaders facilitate exercises to help participants practice and experience awareness, courage and love in real time, as well as take learning to the real world and implement them in daily life.

Creating a phenomenal effect worldwide

With each meetup, ACL is making a significant difference and impact in the lives of its members with a grassroots approach to spreading the message and practice. This is a different kind of wellness center.

“I see people changing right in front of my eyes,” Tsai said.  “They become bigger versions of themselves.”

Now present on six continents, ACL currently has 68 active chapters in 29 countries. While there is no official data, Tsai said she has seen more of a sense of isolation in first-world countries as opposed to other countries that have community-focused cultures.

Tsai said they’ve been able to scale ACL by training people to be deeply present and caring. She emphasized that powerful moments of connection are created through the practice of vulnerable self-disclosure and listening responsively with acceptance.

Some of the plans and goals of ACL are to develop hundreds of groups and have one lead coordinator on each continent, furthering the ultimate vision of reaching tens of thousands of people. As part of this process, ACL is also soon launching an app that will make its reach significantly broader.

Grounded in psychology and science

At its core, ACL is rooted in psychology and scientific research. Tsai said during the meetups, research suggests that when deep connections are made, the brain generates higher levels of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. Oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” can increase due to positive reactions.

During the sessions, serotonin, or the mood stabilizer, can increase, which is a result of being present in the moment. Dopamine, the reward chemical, also sees an uptick in participants as they partake in self-care activities.

“We’re really social creatures,” she said. “Our work is grounded in psychological science, and studies have shown that people who lack social connection suffer from impairment in physical systems, immune systems and cardiovascular systems. It’s more harmful than excessive drinking, obesity or excessive smoking. People’s physical health is actually endangered.”

Tsai said her research team evaluates the effectiveness of ACL interventions and the impact of creating close connections through randomized controlled trials and also survey questions.

“We’re collecting feedback data from leaders and groups and using it to improve the work,” she said.

Reaching more people through an easy-to-use app

Soon, people will be able to extend their connections beyond just the ACL meetups. The organization is planning to launch an app that will offer an array of community and connection features that will be available for both iPhones and Android phones.

Anne Gulyas, Chief Operating Officer at ACL, said members have had such powerful experiences in meetups that they want to experience the feeling more. With the focus on mobile applications in society today, the natural next step was to create an app.

“The app comprises itself of all the core elements of the meetings, with a link to weekly ACL meetings and a meditation area,” she said.

Gulyas, who started as a member herself in meetups five years ago, said the experience was life-changing and spoke to how she believed life was supposed to be.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” she said.

To start, the app will be in English, but they have plans to expand to other languages. There will also be exercises, which will ask users meaningful questions regarding awareness, courage and love.

The app will also include a “Thought Garden,” where people can post to a stylized posting board and see other people’s responses and input. The prompt would ask a closeness-generating question and cut past all the superficial, small-talk style questions.

Gulyas also emphasized that privacy and security are top priorities when it comes to the app.

“We want to make sure the people who use the app are secure, and there’s account-level security but also a deeper level of privacy,” she said. “Because there’s a journal feature in the app, nobody except the user will have access to that content, and their privacy is honored.”

She said the app will be paid but will be a small fee, which will help support the enhanced security features and decrease the number of spam or bot activities. She said their team has insisted on an ethical approach to the app’s build, backend, data and metrics that are examined. She said the only information they’ll look at is feedback from users, popular features, the language and guidance.

“We built this app to answer a commonly asked question about how you can take ACL into the real world as well as provide the ACL experience more often whether there is a live group near you or not.” she said. “Mavis’s dream is to make sure ACL is available to everyone, in every city, so we’re working on making that happen.”


Taking A Load Off Occupational Risk
Work health and safety is sometimes known as occupational health and safety. It involves the prevention of health and safety threats for all members of the workplace, including yourself, your employees, your suppliers, your clients, and anyone else who visits your location of operation. By law, business owners are responsible to provide a safe work environment by maintaining adequate facilities and machinery to allow workers to perform their jobs in a way that will not harm their health. By looking after the safety and welfare of their staff, businesses can ensure smooth, uninterrupted operations and high levels of productivity. We’re On A Roll There is nothing quite as comfortable as lying on a freshly-made bed with crisp, clean sheets. However, the experience may not be the same for housekeeping staff who are changing the linens of several beds that they will not get to rest on. If you consider the pile of pillowcases, sheets, and blankets generated in your household and multiply it by ten or a hundred, then you will have a vague estimate of the huge load of linen that hospitals, hotels, and resorts have to deal with daily. The storage, delivery, and collection of such large amounts of linen present a logistical challenge for housekeeping staff, who already have to strain their backs cleaning rooms and remaking multiple beds. In addition, laundry can present a similar problem, particularly when it is wet and exceptionally heavy. Dedicated trolleys specially designed for laundry and linen—wet or dry—can help your staff to move these loads easily and safely. Laundry & linen trolleys: Just like changing bed sheets, stacking boxes is not that much fun either. Yet, a myriad of industries from grocery warehouses to construction supplies revolve around the neat storage and movement of inventory. Hence, there are a variety of trolleys available that are purpose-built to transport objects in different industrial environments. Some equipment such as strong steel dollies can help to ease the transportation of bulky and hard-to-move pieces. Others such as electric scissor lifts can help employees get hefty items up to high shelves. Industrial trolleys are generally treated with a protective coating to allow them to resist wear and tear and extend their lifespan in harsh weather conditions. Industrial trolleys: Just as industrial trolleys are made to withstand the elements, trolleys made for the healthcare industry are produced with the highest quality stainless steel. Because stainless steel does not corrode or degrade when exposed to high surgical temperatures or harsh sterilization methods, it is the metal of choice for the medical industry. Stainless steel can be found in hospital beds, wheelchairs, and even surgical implants. In demanding medical settings with stringent sanitation and cleanliness requirements, stainless steel trolleys can provide storage and supply movement solutions that expedite the job of medical professionals. From medication trolleys to instrument trolleys designed to hold IVs and oxygen tanks, trolleys can help move essential items while keeping them sterile. Medical trolleys: A Win-Win Solution Aside from moving items from A to B, tailored materials handling equipment also assists employers in managing work health and safety risks. Some business owners worry about the costs of implementing safe practices but the hidden costs of workplace injury are a much more pressing concern. When an employee is injured at work, the costs incurred could include coverage of medical fees, paid time off for recovery, and even possible prosecution and fines from government agencies. On top of this, indirect costs such as a reduction in productivity, loss of skill and expertise, poor team morale, and time spent on training replacement staff can negatively impact a business even further. According to the Key Work Health and Safety Statistics Australia 2019 report, the cost of work-related injuries and diseases is estimated to be $61.8 billion a year. The report also states that 36 percent of serious claims by employees were related to body stressing, with 41 percent of claimants suffering from traumatic joint and muscle injury. Thus, it is even more imperative that we provide our staff with the appropriate equipment to protect them from having to perform heavy physical lifting or manually carrying stock items. Particularly in this sensitive pandemic era, it is also prudent to minimize employee contact with soiled linen, dirty laundry, or hazardous waste. For those in the healthcare profession, materials handling equipment can prevent the contamination of sterilized medical instruments. With the advancement of innovation and engineering, there are now numerous solutions for specific industry requirements. Just as we have adopted computer systems to accelerate our administrative and cataloging processes, businesses can take advantage of materials handling equipment to streamline and simplify the movement of their supply and waste. By taking a load off the backs of their staff, business owners can have happier and healthier employees, adhere to government guidelines, and achieve better productivity and profit.  

5 Easy Ways to Keep Up with New Information

The healthcare industry is continuously evolving. With the wealth of information available, it can be overwhelming and tedious to stay up-to-date with the latest discoveries, developments, and information available. Fortunately, technology makes keeping up with new information easier with the assistance of social media platforms such as Hospital Hippo that provide real-time, current information for hospitals throughout the world. Whether a patient or provider, accessing information is easier than it has ever been before and it is mutually beneficial. This article explores five easy ways for people to keep up with the newest information available in the healthcare industry.

1. Apps for Access
Technology has changed the face of the healthcare industry by making information available with the touch of a button. Through the use of apps, users have access to data at their fingertips, making their healthcare experience more seamless. A variety of apps have been developed to address the needs of both patients and providers, some are highlighted here and are effective in providing current, pertinent communication. Additionally, most apps are user-friendly and do not require individuals to be extremely tech savvy.

2. Follow the Trends
There are many websites dedicated to helping users stay informed on the ever-changing healthcare industry. US News & World Report is a site encompassing a wide-range of information inclusive of research, treatments, and the overall future of healthcare. Specifically, the site has a section dedicated to hospitals, Healthcare of Tomorrow, which can be particularly useful when seeking to stay abreast of new health trends and developments.

3. Subscribe to Newsletters
Another effective way to stay informed and obtain up-to-date information on healthcare industry changes is by subscribing to digital newsletters. Electronic newsletters bring information directly to patients and providers with very little effort. By subscribing to healthcare newsletters such as the ones found here, people can obtain current news on an ongoing basis. Likewise, the frequency that the subscription is received can be customized and discontinued at any time.

4. Seek out Publications
Similar to subscriptions, health publications provide users with the ability to obtain information specifically tailored to their areas of interest, such as the best ways to go about choosing a doctor, cancer support, and advance care planning. These publications are beneficial because they often contain detailed, niche information that is not explored in other outlets.

5. Traditional Research
With the plethora of information available, it is necessary to explore multiple channels in order to gather facts, compare and contrast, and obtain multiple perspectives. Additionally, it is important to ensure the resources providing the information are valid. Often times, the material is biased and intended to persuade individuals toward a particular belief as opposed to presenting all the facts so that an informed decision can be made. Fortunately, organizations such as Health on the Net Foundation provide access to vetted, objective, scientifically sound information which is extremely useful in obtaining accurate and consistent healthcare information.

There are many ways to remain informed when it comes to health, and technology has greatly improved the access and delivery of health-related news to information-seekers. Online health information helps people increase their knowledge base. Patients are taking an active interest in their health and providers are providing them with additional resources so they are better informed and more equipped to make much-needed decisions. The flow of healthcare information is ever-changing, but on-demand access to research and information allow patients and providers to work together in order to ensure the best care is administered and received. Healthcare is rapidly changing, but technological innovations make it easy to keep up on the latest developments, discoveries, and trends.


How to Learn Any New Skill Fast

Many people often put off acquiring a new skill because of the effort and time it takes to learn it, especially if they are also dealing with work or a family, or sometimes they are just simply afraid of failure. However, according to business adviser Josh Kaufman, scientists at John Hopkins University, and other experts, there are a number of ways to overcome your fears and learn a new skill, and fast, which can help put you on the right track towards bettering your life.

Overcome Your Fears

Some people put off learning a new skill because they dread they may not perform well, which can lead to embarrassment. However, according to Kaufman, the way to overcome this fear is to simply let go of the idea that learning a new skill means that you have to be superb at it, which can discourage you and make it more challenging to get started.

According to the business adviser, stereotypes can also play a role in people’s fears as it can make them feel as if they are unable to learn a new skill. However, it is also possible for these individuals to overcome these apprehensions simply by following these rules, he adds.

Embrace the Exploration Mode

Josh teaches that the first 20 hours of learning a skill is considered the exploration mode. It is during this time that you decide, after figuring out how the skill works, if you would like to pursue it further or not.

In other words, this is the time when you have either decided that what you have learned has provided value, at which point you may choose to continue to practice the skill in order to reap more benefits, or you have decided that the skill was not for you and that to continue to practice it is not going to improve the results, at which time you may simply walk away.

Embracing the exploration mode also helps take the fear out of learning a new skill knowing that if you at least try it and find that it’s not for you, then you can simply walk away.

Define Exactly What it is That You Want to Be Able to Do

Deciding exactly what it is that you want to be able to do helps define your target performance level, which gives you a sort of blueprint for your actions.

When defining your target performance level, Kaufman advises that you should be as detailed as possible because most people tend to fall off due to a lack of knowing exactly what it is they wanted to achieve.

Therefore, remember, the more detailed your goals, the better, and then focus your efforts towards getting to that point.

Dedicate Enough Time to Practice

Kaufman states that it takes approximately 20 hours to learn a new skill. However, he adds, the first few hours of learning something new can be challenging and frustrating, so be sure to endure it long enough to overcome the hurdle and see improvement,
which typically occurs around the five to six hour mark for more challenging skills.

Practice in Short Bursts

Energy and frustration play a huge part in learning a new skill. For instance, you may find that after a certain period of practicing, you notice that you are tired or frustrated, at which time practicing any further can become counterproductive. Therefore, you should practice in short bursts in order to remain productive.

Vary Your Training

Researchers at John Hopkins University found that slightly varying your training can keep your brain more alert throughout the learning process, which actually helps you learn twice as fast as opposed to simply repeating the same task many times consecutively.

Reflect Along the Way

Experts say that in order to progress from exploration to proficiency, you need to think carefully on what you are learning; otherwise, it will not stick. Therefore, they suggest sharing your goals and consulting with individuals who can offer educational and emotional support, who will hold you responsible and help keep you truthful about your progress.

Online courses provide a great way to learn a new skill, and in the comfort of your own home, which can help eliminate the time constraints and embarrassment often associated with traditional classrooms.