March 8, 1999
Why is it that we never hear about good deeds? The news that floods our television screens and daily papers is filled with violent crimes, and we seldom hear about the people who help strangers in need, who go out of their way to feed the hungry, who give of themselves day in and day out and expect nothing in return. Their gifts and blessings are offered with little fanfare or recognition.
Tired of depressing statistics and discouraging news, psychologist Kathleen Brehony set out to find the many overlooked people who devote themselves to helping others. Her goal was to determine what motivates such people, and how we can learn from them and draw on our own strengths to make the world a kinder place to live. Across America, Brehony discovered individuals from all walks of life quietly dedicating themselves to doing good. Whether they volunteer once a week in a soup kitchen, or have found innovative ways to take back the streets of the inner city, their dreams are built on the very simple – and often unarticulated – belief that anyone can find a way to reach out and act with compassion and generosity. Together, their stories serve as an example of how we can choose to live.
As you read, you will come to realize that the people Kathleen Brehony describes are not so different from you. They are not superhuman. They have not attained some special enlightenment. They have simply found a way to clear a space in their lives for simple kindness. More than anything, they serve as role models, and should inspire people who feel unsure of how to help others in need.
Although there is no easy recipe for compassionate living, this book helps us understand – and act on – the many different ways in which ordinary grace can be expressed. Brehony has written an inspiring book, one that will encourage us to examine the enormous potential within ourselves – to wake up and recognize the good that is everywhere around us, to find joy in the small things that make others happy, and put our capacity for compassion and charity to good use.
Kathleen A. Brehony holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She has been in private practice for twelve years, specializing in periods of transitional development, including midlife, death, and dying. She is the author of Awakening at Midlife: Realizing Your Potential for Growth and Change, which was a finalist for the Books for Better Life Award. Dr. Brehony divides her time between Virginia and Los Angeles.