We certainly can use more empathy in a world where national polls have shown an increase in narcissism (self-interest) and a decline in concern about the well-being of others. In an article in Yes Magazine, Roman Krznaric says that empathy is not kindness or the Golden Rule but "the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions." He points out that science has added value to empathy through research proving that human beings are wired for social cooperation and mutual aid.
To make the most of our capacity for empathy, we must practice it in our daily lives. Here are Six Habits of Highly Empathetic People:
1. Talk with strangers or as Studs Terkel quipped, "Don't be an examiner, be the interested inquirer."
2. Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities by keeping an open mind and heart.
3. Try another person's life by expanding your experience of others.
4. Listen hard and open up; listening and openness are two practices in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, and they are necessary to be an empathetic conversationalist.
5. Inspire mass action and social change as a concrete outcome of our empathy for others.
6. Develop an ambitious imagination, which means expanding our circle of empathy in creative ways.
Krznaric calls the 20th century "the Age of Introspection," and wants us to see the 21st century as "the Age of Empathy" where we all get involved in "a radical revolution in human relationships." We believe that the resources we provide for your spiritual journey on Spirituality & Practice can be used privately or in groups to inform, exercise, and expand your empathy. We're happy to be part this radical revolution in human relationships!