“The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts”

This is one of my favourite phrases. Originating from Aristotle, some say commonly wrongly interpreted, and far more complex than one may think if returning to original texts. However, as I use it today, it is in reference to that feeling I so often get, when a group of people come together for a common cause, each brings to the table their unique talents, passion, heads and hearts, and somehow what emerges is far greater than the sum of the individual elements.

This is one of the reasons I went into TV and film. It’s teamwork. One of the reasons some of my brightest moments have been those when a group of connected, like-minded souls have joined forces to deliver transformation – and what has emerged is more wondrous than we could all have imagined.

This has been my journey collaborating with our dear friends at Beyond and their wonderful Youth Board these past weeks. This Tuesday 1 June, Beyond will be launching a fundraising campaign to raise money to fund the deliverance of mental health services to schools now. Right now. And as a group of people came together to offer their time, services and love, from world-famous photographer Rankin and his fabulous team, to the special friends and family of Beyond, to us here at Sixth Sense and our collaborators, it has been a joy to see it all emerge. Yet what has been life-changing for me were the conversations I had with Beyond’s Youth Board during our day of filming. This week as I have watched back their interviews and seen and heard them speak time and time and time again (as is the way with editing a film), each moment, each phrase, glance, or silent beat touched me deeply. Their courage to share their journeys of mental unwellness and suffering, their determination to stop future generations from going through what they have, their levels of empathy and compassion for fellow human beings, for me is the true definition of inspiration.

We talk about compassion lots here at the Happynesshub, it underlies all we do. Amongst the many definitions, I tend to revert to: ‘the emotional response when perceiving suffering, involving an authentic desire to help’. Many decades of economists may disagree, but I like to run with the research of another dear friend – Prof Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley who coined the phrase “compassionate instinct.” His belief – that compassion is a natural and automatic response for us human beings.

Research also supports the notion that suffering, as unpleasant as it is, often offers a positive side effect: compassion. Human suffering can be accompanied by beautiful acts of compassion by others wishing to help relieve it.

This certainly was my experience many years ago when I filmed a delightful series in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I dedicated it to our young friend Yasmin, who passed during our production. Yasmin and her fellow patients wanted other children to hear their voices. So they knew they were not alone. So they knew there was help. Knew there was hope.

And so with the Beyond Youth Board. Special souls. Generous hearts. Courageous beings. I can’t wait to share the campaign and film with you next week. But for now Hubbers, wishing you all lovely weekends. And I will leave you with this thought:

“We can’t heal the world today but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, an act of kindness.”

Mary Davis