ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:
A Power of Facing – Compassion and Courage in
the Face of Global Suffering
Head of Movement Building, Action for Happiness — London, England
Who did your Capstone Project serve?
Initially, I thought in very basic and surface terms about climate activists and change agents. As I went deeper, I realized I was carrying my own suffering — a feeling of overwhelm in relation to global suffering and injustice — and that this wound connects me to many others who are carrying a similar burden. My project was for them.
What was the suffering that your project addressed?
It is hard to be an empathic, sensitive and caring person in a suffering and unjust world. Many of us internalize and suppress our feelings to the extent that we feel weighed down (and often don’t know why), are chronically fatigued or are caught in frustrating efforts to bring about change.
How did this project address that suffering?
I sought to help people unlock their emotional resources by practicing compassion and directing that newly found energy towards efforts to effect change. I wanted to show them that the ‘weight’ they feel is due to the empathic distress of resonating with the suffering of the world. I wanted to help people understand that compassion can consciously manifest with a surprisingly nourishing motivational energy.
Who was your audience and how many people participated?
My audience was drawn from the followings of organizations I work with and was designed to attract people interested in developing compassion in relation to global suffering. Around 1,200 people came to my live public talks, a further 2,600 watched my videos online and I have also engaged 36 people in deeper one-to-one calls.
How was the project delivered (the format)?
The format was online public talks, and 1-hour one-to-one calls where we could deepen our reflection and our learning together — and then repeat the process.
What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself?
Participants said the project had helped them better understand compassion (72.7%). It left people feeling inspired to practice compassion in relation to global suffering (90%). One participant shared: “It helped me find another way to cope with the heaviness of the current issues facing the world right now.”
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
I didn't anticipate how deep and meaningful the Capstone Project would be in terms of my own personal journey. In investigating my own motivation to do this work, I tuned into a core, personal woundedness and let that become the fuel and direction for my project — that I might help exactly those who are wounded as I was by the world.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program?
When I was looking for a course to join I wanted to learn about the science of compassion and I was also seeking legitimacy as an authoritative leader. However, my personal process proved far more valuable than any formal learning. If you are ready to serve the world by finding yourself, perhaps ACT is for you.