by Anjali G. Sharma and Deepika Ahuja
Compassion is an inherent human trait. As we move towards an increasingly perception-based outlook, we are slowly in danger of disconnecting with our empathetic, humane nature. In the busyness of life, we are slowly losing touch with our compassionate self, losing what could be our biggest strength in bringing peace and harmony. We need to have more conversations around compassion with people around us. The easiest way to start these conversations is through stories. Compassionate acts performed by our children sparked a thought in both Deepika and me to reach out to other parents. We felt they too would have stories to share of their children performing similar inspiring acts in daily life. "My Act of Heart" is our attempt to restore the essence of compassion by reaching out to where it exists in its purest form- to children. We envisioned a diverse and inclusive compilation of stories of compassion to reach out and inspire children and trigger conversations around the subject. We started spreading the idea on social media. We reached out to Marilyn Turkovich, Executive Director Charter for Compassion. She along with Charter for Compassion worldwide network helped us immensely in spreading the word. The idea was loved and welcomed by one and all. It spurred a flood of entries from children worldwide -India, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Chile, the USA, and Israel. We received stories directly from children, schools, and non-profit organisations written in English, Hindi, Spanish, and Tamil. Each inspiring entry told us about how children acted with compassion, grace and courage when faced with a challenge in real life. We thank every child, parent and educator who trusted us and shared their child's act of compassion with us. We stitched these submissions into an engaging quilt of stories to serve as inspiration for our readers. Perhaps they would change their approach to daily life challenges by reflecting on the power and courage of compassion. The grouping of stories in this book is according to who benefitted from the act to make it easier. We started from self-compassion, extending outwards to friends and family, to strangers, to their communities, towards the environment and finally, towards animals. While the stories were adapted wherever needed to make them more engaging, we have ensured to preserve the voice of our stars of compassion. Each story has a subsection - an activity or reflection as 'Compassion in Practice' for the Reader to practice and motivate them to fuel their compassionate nature. We're so grateful that you have chosen "My Act of Heart". We hope you enjoy these heart-warming real-life stories and that they will resonate with and inspire you to look at quotidian things with more empathy, compassion, and gratitude. Perhaps our endeavour shall plant a seed to always choose compassionate action when faced with a challenge, thus paving the way to make compassion a movement.
~ Anjali G Sharma & Deepika Ahuja
Here is an excerpt from the Introduction: Foreword
The world loves a good story. What could be better than the stories coming from children and youth. As their stories unfold, a sense of wonder and imagination seems to spring off the page, naturally, without censorship or reservation. It is all right there for the taking. At times we can be found smiling to ourselves and at other times tears may well in our eyes, as we are bowled over, reading of the kindness of children. How often are we moved by pictures of children at play, with parents and cuddling animals? As Nelson Mandela so frequently mentioned, love comes more naturally to the human heart than hate, especially to children who are born without prejudice. Neuroscience tells us that we are wired for kindness and compassion. Perhaps the wiring gets a little frayed as we grow older. Thankfully those of us at an advanced age, through skill building, can repair our connections to compassion. Perhaps we can also awaken ourselves to compassion by observing younger generations as they maneuver themselves through this world they will inherit. Let them help us remember the purpose of play, the thin line between fantasy and reality and the enthusiasm for possibilities. As we read through and digest "My Act of Heart", we immediately come to the realization that the future of the world is in good hands. At the Charter for Compassion, we believe that education around compassion cultivates basic human values as skills for the purpose of increasing individual, social and environmental flourishing. By covering a range of skills from self-regulation and self-compassion, to compassion for others and engagement with complex systems, such as those in which we engage in our daily lives, the offerings in 'My Act of Heart' brings us closer to understanding the planet we inhabit.