Meet Our Optimism Instigators
A collection of people we admire for what they do to initiate small things that spur positivity in a contagious way around the world.
A few months ago we travelled to spend time with our Hush Puppies family in India.
Meet Juhi Sharma from Delhi India. She runs a non-profit called Light Up – Emotions Matter Foundation. Their mission is focusing on harnessing the emotional intelligence (EI) of children, parents and, teachers by developing their social and emotional competencies, and providing them with tools necessary to form a cohesive, non-violent, and caring community that ultimately equips them to lead happier and successful lives.
Tell us about living in Delhi. What do you love about the city and culture?
I was born and raised in Delhi, I have lived here all my life. Delhi is chaotic, dynamic and full of life. I love the diversity in Delhi. Rich in character – people, culture, colour, art, music, rich food, heritage, governance, student politics and history. Being the capital of India, it is an eventful place to be.
“Delhi is chaotic, dynamic and full of life.”
Tell us about your background. Did you always work in the non-profit world?
I am a management professional who started my career with research and communication. I wanted to make a career in luxury brand management. Once I experienced being in that industry, I started feeling like a misfit in the ecosystem. Then I happened to have diverse community experiences and my life turned around. I knew I belonged in the development sector to do something purposeful with my life. The switch was hard and full of obstacles but I am glad I decided to stick it out. I don’t see any other place that can give me the same fulfillment and happiness.
“I don’t see any other place that can give me the same fulfillment and happiness.”
What is your advice for someone wanting to get involved in non-profits? Or those looking to change careers?
If you are planning to get involved with on-ground community work, I would suggest spending two years minimum [in the community] to understand context and solidify your program. Spending time in these communities will help you better understand the capacity in which you can contribute effectively. It’s very important to be in line with the social issues at a grassroots level. Find the right mentors to direct you, build a support system to manage one’s emotional well-being and introspect on the purpose of your career shift to sustain your path in the long run.
How did you become involved and inspired to teach people about emotional intelligence?
I was a part of a life-transforming project in a juvenile care home, in 2012. I saw children experiencing trauma at a very high degree with no outlet to process bitter experiences. It used to take a toll on their well-being, relationships, creativity and learning. I felt there should be a subject dealing with managing emotions and how to cope with day to day struggles and trauma. What started with research on emotional literacy slowly transitioned to an organisation decoding emotional intelligence for the underserved population.
How do you define emotional intelligence?
Emotions matter. They impact learning, decision making, relationships, well-being and mental health, and our overall effectiveness. Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.
“Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals.”
Part of optimism is giving back to others. Do you feel like your work has made you more optimistic?
Of course, the change I see in children through our work fills my heart with hope. The hope for a more caring and compassionate future. It has expanded my life and my world view. I am a lot more grateful to the things that matter to me.
“I am a lot more grateful to the things that matter to me.”
How do you keep yourself positive and healthy while often taking on other people’s emotions as well?
Recently, I’ve tried to take short breaks just for myself. I am always surrounded by people and I think my energy really gets consumed. So, I have started taking time off where I just spend time with myself. I meditate to be in a position to give and share my energy with others. I address my concerns and communicate to people who take care of me. I am blessed with a beautiful support group who are always around to help me and make sure I take out time for myself. I also practice maintaining a gratitude diary.
“I meditate to be in a position to give and share my energy with others.”
Who is your favorite musician?
What’s your favorite color?
Yellow and Black
Do you have any pets?
Nope but how I wish. 😊